Friday, 20 April 2012

The Noumenal

I want to show you something. You open the door into a large room and see everything inside is covered by a large dust sheet. There is nothing to tell you what lies beneath the sheet, your only clues are the undulations and peaks of the fabric. The lie of the land. Now suppose you are a fly. You take wing across the room and alight wherever you may but still you cannot detect what is below the fabric. You can walk on it but you cannot lift it, nor can you see or drill through it. You sniff, taste, listen, touch and look but what the veil conceals is remote. Being a fly you don't find this strange. Understood as a metaphor the scenario portrays the separation between total reality and the world known to our five senses.

Helen Keller was famously both blind and deaf and with only three senses you have to wonder what her locked in world was like. Not like ours, yet in a similar fashion our five senses would give us no knowledge of an unsensed larger reality. On TV I saw a shark that was sensitive to the muscle electricity of its prey, if that were us we would be able to find each other in the dark and round the corner too. Alas we're as blind to electric fields as we are to magnetism so there are six and seven sort of senses we don't have. On the other hand we do know of them. As evolved organisms biologists tell us we need only be aware of enough of around us to accomplish "the three Fs", to feed, flee and reproduce. We also have a sense of time and space though we have no sense organs for these, they appear to be built into our brains. 

So a three sense reality, a five sense reality and more, but what the total reality might be we don't know. Science takes us into the unknown but it can't lead us to experiences beyond our senses can it? Well who knows because with physicists trying to unite the cosmologically large with the sub atomic small they have devised a 12  or 13 dimensional reality. Historically where science leads technology follows so through our five given senses we might one day be admitted to a larger reality by means of a gadget.

Like Helen Keller who gained a sense through a vibrating balloon touched to her lips and so learned to hear, speak and communicate, and become a professor. I want a gadget like that because I want to break through the veil of unknowing and see the furniture beneath. If there is any, assuming our brains are up to it, which they may not be.

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