Critical Mass, Perceptions, and Reality

The primary way we experience the world is through our senses. This is something most scientists, scholars, and theologians can agree on, although you might have a difficult time actually getting them to do so. Still, as long as no on is being obstinate, we all know reality is revealed to us through our senses, Through our eyes and our ears, our noses and our mouths, we get to know the universe.

Is reality, as they say, really in the eye of the beholder? Different eyes see different things. Sometimes the same eyes see different things at different times. Different ears hear different sounds. What could be music to one set of ears might sound like chaos to another. Different noses smell different smells. What may smell like garbage to your nose may be a sweet perfume to another.

smelling flowers

“Aww, these flowers smell like farts!”

So we experience reality through our senses, but each of our senses can produce wildly different perspectives on the same things. Is there any kind of consistency? Is there such a thing as Universal Truth? Are there universal good sights, or universal bad smells? Or is the only true reality whatever perspective we happen to have in the present moment, even if it contradicts all the perceptions we have ever had before?

The problem with determining truth is that we are presented with conflicting sets of information. Science envy is among the worst maladies of the philosopher, but we should still ask what a scientist would do with conflicting sets of data. For most scientists, the best thing to do is just gather more data.

What if you needed to answer how much an apple weighs, in general. Not the weight of a specific apple, but a number that can stand in for the weight of any apple. Well, every apple has a slightly different weight from all other apples. You will never be able to say with certainty that you know the exact weight of every single apple in the world. Science, however, does not provide us with exactness. It provides approximations that are as close to exact as possible while still being useful.

So you weigh a whole bunch of apples to get an average. The more apples you measure, the better. Though you will never get an answer for universal apple weight, you can still develop a reasonable expectation for how much an apple is supposed to weigh.

weighing an apple

“Why are we doing this again?”

The most exact expectations are brought about through the amalgamation of information. So the most exact knowledge should be brought about by the gathering of perspectives. A reasonable expectation is not the same thing as the truth, but its probably close enough, and can be used to develop an even more exact approximation of everything.

We can go around in life gathering as many perspectives on as many things as possible. I wonder, what happens to a mind that is filled with a great pressure of perspectives? Could it be the same thing that happens when a certain uranium isotope is bombarded by rogue neutrons, or when an enormous cloud of hydrogen is pulled together by its own immense mass? Eventually, the gathering of perspectives reaches a critical mass, whereupon a new truth emerges. This new truth can be a terrible as a nuclear explosion, or as promising as a brand new sun. Or maybe even both.

If reality is a collection of perspectives, and truth is derived from the fusion of these perspectives, then our quest for truth has fallen into a cycle. Perceptions gather, reach critical mass, and fuse into new truths. This new truth leads to more perspectives which gather to a certain point and then react to form another truth. Then this truth can be compared to other truths until there is a reaction that provides an even truthier truth. And so on…

How long can this go? Can you reach an ultimate truth if you go around enough times? Does the cycle ever end?

Those are not the best questions. I would say it is like asking when the universe will end, but that doesn’t seem quite correct. It is more like finding someone on a country lane who has been singing The Song that Never Ends for a very long time, eons even, and asking when they will stop. The real question is, why did they start singing in the first place?

shari lewis

Some lady with a puppet promised me answers when I was young!