Category Archives: other

All posts that do not belong in the categories of buddhism or sustainability goes in here. Please check tags for more details about what the post is about.

On Reality

This morning I took the garbage out, as I do every Saturday morning. There was the sky. There were clouds, mountains, trees, rocks, roads, my car. birds singing, the rice fields, our vegetable garden, my neighbour bringing home a dead wild boar. This is physical reality. The world I see and all its objects, space and time exists. I verify it independently. And you can come verify it as well. The world where you are now reading this is the same but different part of the physical world. I can, if I want to, come to you and verify it independently as well. Few would argue that this is not the world, not real.

Outside my house, as I said, are rocks. The one particular rock that I picked up this morning is real. It existed with the ground, vegetable garden, mountain, clouds, sky. But does the rock “know” of its existence and the physical reality it belongs to? Let me put it down – both physically and metaphorically – for the moment and come back to it later in this post.

There is a physical reality. But how do I know it? I know the reality through my senses and perception of it. There is no other way for me to have knowledge of it. The senses, my, eyes, ears, nose, skin and tongue give me the sensory data, and my brain saves and processes this sensory data to let me know of its existence.

Suppose there was a person who was born without any senses (no eyes, ears, nose, skin or tongue) but with a brain. Would this person know anything of the reality? Now let us suppose there was another person who was born with all the senses but without a brain. Would this second person know anything of the reality as well?

Yes, there is a physical reality. And in the reality there are objects which can know the world and objects which cannot know it. These objects have been called variously throughout history as animate/inanimate, sentient/non-sentient, etc. I prefer either observing/unobserving or perceptient/non-percpetient objects. I am perceptient. The rock outside my house is non-perceptient. There are a multitude of objects out there. They are either perceptient or non-perceptient. I can perceive the existence of perceptient and non-perceptient objects. Others can perceive them (and me as a perceptient object) as well. The rock has no such understanding of the reality. Note, this does not make me “better than” or “superior to” the rock, only that I am different from it, as far as objects are concerned. The non-perceptibility of the reality is the rock’s characteristic. The perceptibility of the reality is a characteristic of my being.

Senses precede sensation, and sensation must precede perception. And perception limits and informs my understanding of the reality. I act and make decisions (inferences) in accordance to my understanding of the reality. Knowledge is the sum of perceptions, inferences and actions of a perceptient object. The rock outside my house cannot know the reality. It perceives nothing, makes no inferences and does not act volitionally.

The physical reality is made up of objects, perceptient and non-perceptient. It includes space which separates the objects, and time in which objects interact within the space. The interaction is complex. To not look at this complexity is to ignore the reality, to ignore space, objects and time.

Generally, I do not like to make analogies but I will make one here because analogies make concepts easier to understand. Furthermore, the ability to make analogies is a characteristic particular to the perceptient object that I am – a human being.

Chess is a game with a physical reality and rules. In the physical space of eight-squres by eight-squares and thirty-two pieces (sixteen to each side) is the game played. There are five different pieces (king, queen, bishop, knight and rook) and the pawn (the pawn is not called a “piece” for some reason). each piece and pawn has its own particular characteristic. The objective of chess is to win the game by checkmating the opposition king. The minimum needed to play chess are 1) to have a chess set, 2) to have a playing partner, and 3) to know its rules. Yet, having these conditions do not make for an interesting and entertaining game. Knowing how to win – the strategies and tactics of the game – knowing how to interact meaningfully in the reality is what is needed.

Defining observing objects

I am an observing object. I observe the objective reality. I observe that I observe, and I observe that I am observed.

Defining Objects

There are numerous objects in the world. They are of two general types – observing and unobserving objects. I am an observing object. I interact with the space and objects as an object. I therefore mark time by interaction and by observing this time.

Defining The World

The world is the objective reality, the collection of independently existing things – space, objects and time. Space is a special kind of object. Time is the interaction of space and objects.

Band-aid Philosophy

It would be very wrong to think we are objective beings able to be absolutely impartial. No amount of trying will we ever reach complete objectivity. We view everything from the very bodies we inhabit never being able to leave it as much as believe we can. Imagining that we do is of course possible but in reality that imagined objectivity is coloured by the entire experience of being who I am. To exactly know who or what I am is an impossible project. We must not exactly give up on this but to let the mystery be just that, a eternal mystery. Only then will be content and be able to move on. To accept that we contain and never cease to perform value-judgements is the first step to move onto understanding ourselves, others and other things. We must always ask what are our values and how did we arrive to them. Only then can some of the problems of the world can be, like a band-aid to temporarily cover a wound, imperfectly solved. We can only hope for band-aids. We should celebrate the band-aids.

2018 resolutions

So many things happened in 2017.

Probably the hardest year of my life. Health-wise was poor, for me and other family members. Work had been extremely busy and will continue to be so at least until the new academic year. My research, failing almost grinding to a halt.

On the upside the children are growing physically, mentally and spiritually. The next generation may well take over sooner than later.

But the world seems a place at crossroads. The Smart Age may not be as smart as its name suggests. I don’t believe the world will ever bring to an end the embodied qualities that all else need. Digital things maybe, but things they are. We must not forget that, for they will not let us forget. If the world is to be a better place than at present we must remind ourselves of values which have always informed us of who we are – physical beings in a physical world. Ideas and thoughts may seem infinite (for that is an illusion) but their consequences are always finite.

This year I will make sure I become the academic and father I had vowed to be. There is nothing to do but to show this by physical, tangible proof.

Does not a belief in a flat earth imply that the planets are flat as well?

I love looking at the moon. I love watching it slowly change from a full moon to a new moon. I love half and crescent moons also. But they are all the same moon in different light.

By observing the moon and watching it change I can confirm that it is indeed a sphere. By looking at the shadows I can point to the direction of the sun, and infer its location relative to us.

But why should the moon be spherical? The more we look out there the more we realise that the other planets are spherical as well. So maybe the planet we live on is as well.

That thought probably prompted man to sail away from the coasts and literally venture out into open waters. The evidence increasingly pointed to the world as being round, or at least not being flat.

This also prompted us to think about how and why things do not fall off a round-edged world into whatever is beyond the horizon. Perhaps everything is falling into the centre – gravity. Eureka! All problems solved.

The fact is we have observed, with our own eyes, the planets and planetary satellites out there, and they are not flat but round. Things don’t fall off the planets because they are round. And the Earth is not special. It is not flat. And we, human beings, are not special. The world neither figuratively nor literally revolve around us, just as the Sun does not revolve around the Earth. It is only ignorance and arrogance that makes us think the planet and us are special. And sometimes people are kept ignorant for reasons of maintaining this power and control over them. This is not unlike the flat-earthers’ narrative that the Sun revolves around the flat Earth, all the while telling you that you are their Sun.