Re: virus:Other Reality

Bill Godby (
Wed, 08 May 1996 01:21:54 -0400

John A wrote:

> We can infer the existance of "absolute" reality. Einstein and Newton
> lived in two completely different societies, seperated by time and
> geographic location. Their discoveries about the natural world went
> together, except for some errors made by Newton. If reality is defined
> socially, then how can scientists from different locations and eras have
> scientific theories that are even close to each other?
I think there is a very big difference between the two. Newton built his
theories upon induction, formulating theories then proving them with
experimentation. In contrast Einstein's theories were built upon
deduction and mathmatics, of course building upon and overthrowing
Newton's legacy. These are very fundamental differences that I would
argue are reflected throughout both of their perspective societies.
Consider the art, music and architecture of 17th c. Europe, in contrast
to that of the late 19th and 20th c., there is definitely a huge
difference, and they reflect the difference in perceptions of reality.
The ideal of science and what could be known and discovered by it was
markedly different between these periods. This can easily been scene by
reading philosophy of the period, which is of course closely related to

> there is a natural world that does not exist solely in our minds. As we
> have said, reality to the individual is completely subjective; if the
> natural world is solely in our minds then scientific discovery and the
> advancement (or destruction) of civilization through scientific means
> would be impossible. There is an objective natural world that is real.
> "Absolute" reality is what the natural world exists in. To say that
> there is no absolute reality is the same as saying that objects only
> exist when they are percieved. If absolute reality does not exist, then
> the entire natural world is illusory.

A quick review of anthropological materials (ethnographies) amassed in
the last century may convince you that concepts of nature itself are
constructed. There is no immutable notion of nature that we are born
with. I will not argue that there exists a natural world, this is for
sure. However it is the way that meaning is garnered from it that is at
issue. This is at the heart of cultural difference, cosmological
theories, generally theories of knowledge, all memetic. Science pretends
that it is objective and that it transcends this problem but if you look
at the history of science or the philosophy of science it is clear that
scientific knowledge it just as bound to social structure as anything
else. I'm not arguing that there _is_ no natural world, but rather how
it is defined. Regarding physics of the late 20th century and our
"reality" as it is portrayed and seen in art, architecture, literature
and music, Quantum Theory has undeniably played a profound role.
Heisenburg's uncertainty priniciple has not proved something easy to
live with however.

Bill Godby