Seeing is believing. We construct our reality based on our experiences. More often than not, what we do not experience is not part of our reality. What we can not see does not exist.
Seeing something, touching something, experiencing something is what makes this something real. It takes imagination to believe in things that you can not touch and can not see. It is irrational; it requires faith.
Of course, plenty of things exist that most of us would classify as real that we can’t see nor touch. Love. Gravity. Numbers. Your favorite song. A dream. But what makes these things real? How are they different from what we would call hallucinations, visions, phantasies, and delusions?
Each of us lives, dependent and bound by our individual knowledge and our awareness. All that is what we call reality, however, both knowledge and awareness are equivocal. One’s reality might be another’s illusion. We all live inside our own fantasies.
If something is more abstract, does it become more real or less so? I’m not sure. Are numbers less real than a pebble? Is beauty itself more real than a beautiful woman? What lasts longer? The abstract thing or its instantiation? What if an abstraction becomes reality? What if the basis of reality is pure abstraction in its core?
We can not describe our base reality without “imaginary” numbers that we dreamed up before discovering their usefulness in regards to describing quantum mechanics. Similarly, we can not even make sense of time and space without the most abstract of notions.
Any author who uses mathematics should always express in ordinary language the meaning of the assumptions he admits, as well as the significance of the results obtained. The more abstract his theory, the more imperative this obligation. In fact, mathematics are and can only be a tool to explore reality. In this exploration, mathematics do not constitute an end in itself, they are and can only be a means.
Does perception follow comprehension? Or is it the other way around? It seems to me that, unless expertly trained and willfully self-destructive, we do not perceive what we do not comprehend. We do not trust our eyes; we trust our beliefs. Seeing is believing, but only if our worldview is not endangered by our seeing.
- German translation by Der Geier
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