Thursday, December 23, 2010
Part I: Subjectivity and Objectivity: Where the Line Is Arbitrarily Drawn
I'm going to take this slow in order to work out the bugs that will no doubt pop up. I'll give one example here and then wait for an obvious counter argument, I hope, and then address that counterargument. By that point I might be able to develop more clearly the glimpses of a new theory of minds, brains, and consciousness along with what the dividing lines should be between the 'who' (Subjects)and the 'what' (objects).
In the history of physics, Maxwell was the first to theorize that light had a wave-like property. Hertz later revealed the frequencies of the electromgnetic spectrum, which included visible light. It became clear from research in this field that light, with color, corresponded with a wavelength.
All of this research is of interest to philosophers, bringing up questions about what is perceived and what the nature of an independent, objective reality is, if there is one. The widely held view by philosophers of perception today as well as people in general living in a technologically advancing society is that of assigning sensations such as that of the color yellow as being not intrinsic to an object itself, but rather as something that becomes added onto the object by ways of a neuronal process, or by way of something mental that ascribes properties like color on to the object.
With the discovery that the color yellow also exhibited a wavelength came the seeming support that experienced color is simply something that our brains (or selves, or minds) add on to the object, or to the world. The object in 'objective' reality, it is maintained, is a wave and nothing more. One has from this conclusion the worldview that the independent world is a swirl of numbers, waves, and parabolas.
This view is, at the very least, prejudiced. When light is seen to have an accompanying wavelength, one sensation (seeing a wavelength) is merely replaced for another (seeing the color yellow).Revealing that light had a wavelength merely gave it a new dimension that was not typically experienced, but could be shown to exist by careful manipulation.
The obvious questions that should be asked are what current paradigm or way of thinking about ourselves makes it so easy to put 'color' in our heads, but not the 'wavelength'? What model of our brain, or of reality for that matter, makes the notion unlikely that a color, like yellow, could be an essential part of the world? What makes it so that wavelengths could exist independent of our existence, but not yellow?