“Those who step into the same river have different waters flowing ever upon them.” (Heraclitus, in Freeman, 25)
Heraclitus observing the world accepted change as the its fundamental nature. Often Heraclitus is paraphrased as everything is in flux. Time is seemingly a fundamental part of observed material reality. It can be observed to pass at a constant rate. This, of course, is all but sense observation. But nonetheless, we function on, coordinate, avoid accidents, play games of tennis with our shared understanding of time. And we have no other choice but observe time with the senses.
Think of coma patients. For day, months, perhaps even years they are in a locked-in state of non-awareness of the “outside” sensed world. The shock comes when they come out of their comatose state feeling something only like a single night’s sleep. For them, time had stood still.
Our daily slumber also feels like this. The time between closing your eyes to sleep and waking up is but an instant in your mind.
This, to me, is sufficient evidence of the nature of time and its relationship to reality. Every night is a miniature coma.
As I watch the clock move its second hand, I hear a corresponding tick, and feel a vibration from its ticking and movement.
Something will be amiss if any one of these senses were to be absent.
From experience this almost never happens. All three senses will be consistent to the process of the clock. And if one sense is consistently “missing” I can assume one of the sense organs is failing, rather than the reality is changing.
Reality has been consistent in my lifetime. It had been consistent in the past. Things we do now we’re done before. So there is no reason to think reality will change in the future.
We often confuse sensation and perception.
Think of the camera obscura. There is nothing but light which is making the image on the wall. Or think of a video camera attached to a video screen. The camera captures the light external to it, turns it into data and turns that data in to the video image on the screen. It does not “think” about the image. It does not “have an opinion” of it. It simply reproduces it.
The eye does the same thing. It captures light eternal to it, turns it into data and reproduces that in your brain. Until then it does not “think” about the image. Thinking occurs after that data is received. That raw data is sensation. The processed data after reception is perception.
If you are still not convinced then this talk by Sheila Nirenberg about her research on the prothetic eye is an excellent real-world demonstration of what sensation and sense data is.
It would be nice if tomorrow I would woke up and a different US president was in the White House. But because there is one reality I have to be content and continue with it.
It would also be nice if I woke up tomorrow morning to find I am a world famous scholar with three important books on my resume. Again, that would not be the case. I must work for those. Sigh.
… is that it ultimately gives one a better perspective of the world.
Last night I posted on my Facebook Wall about the beauty of the stars in a clear sky. And this morning I continued the story with an update about how clear the morning night sky was again. This prompted a friend of mine to comment how she wished she had the luxury of looking at the stars like me.
But what she and probably everyone else don’t realize was that I wasn’t actually delibrately going outside to look at the night sky but rather I was doing the mundane task of putting in the laundry into the washing machine in our creaky old country outhouse. I do it every night before I sleep at nine (put on a six-hour-later timer so that we use the off peak electricity, of course), collect and hang it up just after five in the morning. So all I had done was look up at the night sky as I made the trip there and back.
It isn’t the romantic country lifestyle as everyone seems to think. That is what is so great about darkness. They are like “alcohol goggles” (that is, being drunk): you can forget about reality and enjoy the sheer beauty of the dark clear night sky. But it all comes crashing back to earth when you enter your artificially lit home and see yourself in your run down PJs in the mirror.
As I said it isn’t a romantic lifestyle but it is an ideal one, one that makes me happy and feel closer to nature. And I wouldn’t give it up for the world. At least that is what I feel at the moment. Because if it wasn’t for this lack of convenience of not having space for a washine machine in our house I wouldn’t have seen that beautiful sky, or notice the natural rhythm – night after night – of the world that is beyond the psychological and physical walls which surround me.