All knowledge is an illusion. While this declaration does not mean that we should support the supernatural or ignore knowledge, I trust that it is essential to accept some limitations of knowledge that relate to its source. Unless we consider some fundamental premises, we may be surprised to come across pronouncements that only repeat these premises. In the following discussion, I try to explain how and why knowledge is an illusion.
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Most people acknowledge as evident the existence of reality due to the nature of the universe. While this is the common adage of many people it is not the only feasible theory that can describe the nature of the universe. Possibly, the earliest theory that we learn after we come to the world is that we perceive things to be real after seeing. This theory has been in existence since time immemorial. For instance, the doubting Thomas could not believe that Jesus had risen until he could see him physically. While the emergence of modern technology demonstrates to us that most perceptions could be unreal, this premise holds a firm place in the current society. For instance, most people in the current world believe that what people think about someone is more significant than what the person is in the real sense.
In the science discipline, the theory of perception has gone through vigorous modification and substitution. Many scientists attempt to express reality by employing alleged observations to build general ideas. Originally, perceptions became restricted to natural senses including touch, sight and hearing. Currently, there exist other modes of perception including radio telescopes, and computerized scans. After scientists had developed abstract knowledge, they came up with the theory of the existence of reality and truth, which can be established through examining and analyzing observations.
One such example involves quantum physics. The key issue revolving around the scientific study of the mind and quantum physics entails how physical processes in the brain may create or even control subjective encounters. For instance, Koch and Hepp claim that the substance of consciousness has a relationship with the firing action of an extremely versed figure of neurons (611). On one face, these authors denote that the firing action of many neurons relates to consciousness. On the other face, these authors make a nonscientific remark that denotes that any cognizant thought should be expressed through an extensive combination of neurons that are firing collectively. What they forget is to use scientific information to support the second statement. Rather, this second statement is an unconfirmed premise that buries the rigid problem as if it is nonexistence.
Scientists fail to recognize that every mental event becomes exhibited as a physical incident. This implies that mental events are just connected brain processes. The truth is that there lacks any proof to verify that there exists a relationship between neural coalitions and mental functioning. Science only explains that there exists a causal relationship among some neuronal firings and their allied mental processes, while the character of mental events remains undiscovered.
Besides, just stating that mental phenomenon resembles the coalition of neuronal firings as a scientific fact devoid of any practical evidence, or even coherent rationale is ambiguous. The approach of overlooking the hard problem and indicating the problem has found a solution impedes innovative and creative thoughts that can be used to tackle the problem. Daniel Boorstin claims that illusions of knowledge that involve the conflation of unconfirmed postulations with knowledge, act as key impediments to scientific discovery (Proctor 314). It seems that Koch and Hepp uphold such an illusion of knowledge as they allege that mental actions become exhibited in connections of neuronal activity, with no empirical evidence or rational arguments (612).
The key concern, in quantum physics, is measurement. The actual problem is how the action of measurement changes quantum processes, which are mathematical in nature, into real physical facts, with real velocities and positions. Koch and Hepp pick an easy target in battling the broadly opposed suggestion by Neumann-Wigner (612). The suggestion claims that consciousness has a direct role in breaking up the wave function. Koch and Hepp also pick a new, easy target called the microtubule hypothesis of Hameroff and Penrose, in demonstrating the link between the brain and quantum mechanics (612). The microtubule hypothesis identifies severe difficulties. Using this method, Koch and Hepp decide to handle the difficulty in measurement as if it does not exist by bringing in the idea of decoherence (612). Nevertheless, the third is just an assumption and not reality as decoherence lacks the capacity to solve the measurement difficulty. The theory just covers the problem and makes the problem appear immaterial for the entire physics discipline, and in comprehending the world in general. The density of this problem does not obtain regard in this work, and this presents one further knowledge illusion in physics.
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Similar to how Koch centers on neurobiology intensely in order to explain consciousness and ignores the hard problem, Hepp discriminates quantum physics in the world by assuming that nature covers quantum effects by decoherence. The approach taken by Koch in the study of the brain does not bring anyone nearer to perceiving the real character of consciousness. Similarly, Hepp’s description of solving the issue of measurement does not help us in obtaining the real aspect of consciousness. However, with their small, skilled approach to the brain and quantum mechanics, they make readers believe that what they cannot perceive does not exist or is immaterial.
The theory of reality in physics, which exists separately from responsive observers, obtains the description of the classical theory (Demtroder 120). Most supposed knowledge close to the finishing of the 19th century and the starting of the 20th century could be associated with natural senses. At this time, physicists felt contented which made them declare that there existed nothing else to learn. Obviously, we realize that this was just insensible boasting from the way things are today.
The discipline of nuclear physics came up with observations, which could not be explained thoroughly with ideas that made up the classical theory. These new observations did not directly depend on the natural senses. This is because nuclear particles cannot be detected by touching, seeing or hearing. We assume that their existence depended on interpretive ideas of calculated information. In order to clarify these observations physicists came up with the modern theory of physics. One such theory of modern physics is the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. This method only favors the use of numerical interpretations. Presently this concept obtains interpretation to mean that the action of observing influences observations. Also, only conscious beings can recognize these observations due to their nature. In other words, this theory implies that reality does not exist unless there is a responsive observer.
As I mentioned earlier, I favor the classical theory and not the modern theory. The fact that I do not carry research in particles or quantum influences my choice. The fact that I do not carry out research in particles or quantum influences my choice. The reason why I believe knowledge is an illusion can be explained further by the following figure.
The figure above denotes reality as that aspect of the universe that is free from the conscious observer. Conception is the generalization of opinions that prevail in the brain of the observer. Perception represents the data transmitted to the observer via the senses or through construes of sensed or calculated data, indirectly. Knowledge comprises the compilation of conceptions and perceptions. As seen in the model, knowledge is evidently different from reality. It is just a framework of reality. While we may know the looks of a chair and the feeling that one goes through when seated on a chair, we cannot say that we know a chair. As we continue to conceive and perceive further about the chair, the framework of the chair becomes enhanced. Thus, knowledge is never really as it is just an illusion. The more we claim to know the more the illusion. A chair remains a chair whether we know it or not. In the figure above, there is a thick arrow pointing from conception to perception. Such response is essential to the premise of knowledge. This part denotes that there can be no perception devoid of conception. When the observer lacks a conception that he or she can relate with a perception no perception can occur. There is a difference between perception and response. For instance, a person may respond to a stimulus devoid of perceiving the stimulus. Also, a sea creature such as fish may respond to a stimulus devoid of conception or perception. Human beings respond through the independent nervous system.
Reflect on this thought experiment. Assume that a short time sound, which is unfamiliar, happens nearby. It is obvious that the first time the sound takes place no person will consciously recognize the sound. According to every person’s knowledge, the sound did not take place. However, after this sound occurs severally, we start to perceive the sound. At the first time, we will relate this sound with the broad concept of noise and later relate the sound depending on possible sources and sound qualities.
This framework of the reliance of perception on conception contains some remarkable consequences. It became once stated that we can just learn what we know. I construe this to imply that we should be exposed to ideas and information, constantly, in order that we build concepts on which we can connect knowledge prior to recognizing that there is something we have learnt. This framework also aids clarify why we usually think over concepts and information in the brain ahead of realizing the answer suddenly. On most occasions, in science, we imagine the reality of things or reactions ahead of seeing these things.
As I make my conclusion on the illusory character of knowledge, I deem that any premise of knowledge obtains authorization to the level that it enables us to appreciate the world. It is impossible to find any distinct theory of knowledge that is truthful. The quest for a distinct, cohesive theory of the world is an attractive goal, although, it is meaningless and futile.
Demtroder, Wolfgang. Atoms, Molecules and Photons: An Introduction to Atomic-, Molecular- and Quantum-Physics. Heidelberg, London: Springer, 2011. Print.
Koch, Christof and Hepp Klaus. “Quantum Mechanics in the Brain.” Nature 440 (2006): 611-612. Print.
This article describes the relationship between brain functions and quantum mechanics. The authors claim that modern physicists ignore the concept of neurobiology in explaining the functions of mind and brain. This article is relevant for this study as it provides a key area of criticism regarding scientific and non-scientific reasoning, which leads to illusion of knowledge.
Proctor, James. Science, Religion, and the Human Experience. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. Print.
This book explains the association between religion and science. The author demonstrates that science and religion can be viewed separately or jointly. The book covers many aspects of science including the working of the mind. This work is relevant for this study as it covers the topic of scientific discovery and illusions of knowledge due to unconfirmed postulations.