Pretty philosophical post ahead. Maybe it’s weird to discuss these things on a lifting forum, but there are some really smart people here that I’m sure can contribute with insightful observations.
Relationship between what is perceived and what exists
I can’t help but have that thought in the back of my mind, about how what can’t be perceived cannot exist. By perceiving, here, I am referring to both the perception that takes place with our senses, and also whatever piece of machinery allows a phenomenon to be (maybe electronically) measured (and hence, indirectly be known of).
If something can’t be perceived and there are no ways to measure it with tools, can it exist? Sure, there likely is a plethora of phenomena that aren’t currently measurable and cannot be studied or stated, but they’ll eventually be. Think about quantum computers. There are some algorithms that have been shown by means of logical proofs to work, but can’t currently be made work yet.
However, can something really exist outside of any organism’s field of perception?
Senses, and why I think this is a hard question
If we now restrict the meaning of “perceiving” to our senses (which, by the way, are by now known to be more than the usually stated five), it becomes apparent that there are lots of things that exist and cannot be perceived.
Take electromagnetic fields. There are some animals (some species of birds) that have a sense that allows them to feel electromagnetic fields.
In the past, I read about an experiment in which scientists gave a subject a belt to wear that would vibrate according to electromagnetic field presence. Eventually, that man seemed to have developed a way to sense those fields even without the belt.
If we somehow expanded our set of senses to sense everything, would the number of things that we could perceive still be finite? Would that set coincide with the set of everything that exists?
Limits of the senses we do have
The above question is something that I haven’t been able to try and find an answer to. Can we even imagine a sense we don’t have? How would you describe to someone who’s been blind since birth what seeing “feels” like? What about a deaf person? And why is it easier to imagine being deaf than blind?
I can imagine what absence of sound feels like. But not seeing anything? That must not be equal to darkness. I once read that blindness looks like what you see past the corners of your vision.
What do you see behind your head? Nothingness. It’s not darkness.
Also, the senses we do possess come with restrictions. We can’t see everything. There is a range of visible light wavelengths and similar restrictions are in place for our other senses (even touch has a “minimal resolution” and we can’t really tell smaller things than that apart with touch).
Limitation or gift?
Is the above just a limitation? Or did mother nature make us that way because, only perceiving a relatively small set of things, we can zoom in on the important stuff for our survival? If we could see all the wavelengths of light, and hear all frequencies, wouldn’t everything just end up becoming noisy and chaotic? Would we not be able to tell the stuff that counts apart?
Given a brain with infinite computational power, would such a being “benefit” from being able to perceive everything?
Reality ⟺ perception?
It feels like reality is just all that we can perceive. It sometimes feels to me like it’s not independent of our perception. Would anything even exist if there were no observers out there to feel it in some way? What does the universe really “look” like free of limitations in perception by imperfect beings like us?
These are some of the points I wanted to discuss. There are more floating around my head, I’ll write them if someone actually finds these topics interesting.