Well, this post has to start somehow, so I might as well start it with something that might draw the reader in, seeing as the most obvious purpose of a blog website is for people to read it. I really like the web comic xkcd. If you’re not familiar with it, check it out. But also note that with every comic, you can get a little extra by reading the mouse tooltip (just leave your mouse over the comic for a few seconds). One of them was talking about physics/engineering and philosophy, and how philosophy can’t explain away or change the properties of the physical world. The toolip of this comic read: “if you click on the the first link of any Wikipedia article, and continue clicking the first link, you’ll eventually get to ‘philosophy'”. I found this very interesting, and someday I’d like to create a visual map of all the Wikipedia articles, to see all the points and connections. Perhaps we can gain a whole new view of human perception, thinking, or general knowledge or presentation of knowledge. But I’ll save that for later.
The purpose of this post is for me to start describing reality using the terms we’ve created in the English language (but I’m sure it would work in any language). All right, let’s go!
I believe that all of existence exists because of the ability for something not to exist. I’m sure millions of philosophers and late-night drunk-talks have said the same thing. Basically, to prove that something exists, the simplest way is to prove that there is something that does not exist, and show that the thing is different. For example: black is black because it is not white. You can take this kind of thinking and start talking about absolutely anything, and eventually will run around in circles and never get any further than “existence exists because of the possibility of non-existence” (similar to the Wikipedia “game”).
So, somebody has an idea on how to describe something, or simply noticed that something seemed to work a certain way, according to some set of pre-defined rules. For instance, Newton’s apple. He noticed that it, as well as all objects on the earth, seem to always fall “down” (i.e. perpendicular to the ground). From this “theory”, one has to go through all these proofs (which the “scientific community” has decided upon) that must be done in order to prove a theory into a postulate, theory and eventually physical law). And all proofs are are showing the difference to other theories (or even non-theories) enough such that it can be individually observed and studied.
All right, so now let’s assume that humanity has observed many physical phenomena, has had theories about them, and has then proved beyond a reasonable doubt, that these physical laws apply to our reality. Examples: no particle can travel faster than the speed of light; matter can neither be created nor destroyed; the average acceleration for gravity on Earth is -9.8 metres per second per second. So when we discuss “physics”, we simply discuss the study of our physical universe in an attempt to be able to comprehensively describe it, so that we might be able to use this universe to help us. That leads us to…
Engineering (Applied Physics)
So, we now basically know how this universe works, and can follow the process of how we proved our physical laws all the way back down to the idea of difference. And now we use these laws to develop “tools” to aid or lives (medicine, electronics, fashion). However here is where humanity splits off (or maybe ends).Let me explain why.
Engineering takes the physical description of our universe and attempts to create physical devices for our use as humans (or for animals, or in the future maybe aliens and ghosts). But there are not only engineers in our world: there are also fashion designers, artists, homeless, physically/mentally impaired, teachers, and so on. And what they do, similarly to engineers, is take ideas and try to create tools. For instance: a fashion designer learns about how which fashions are fashionable, and tries to create based on those assumptions. And perhaps they learn about these “fashion laws” from a teacher, who in turn studied sociology and human psychology, two branches of science which have to do with the human mind.
Of course the human mind is a complex concept, and until now is recognised as having at least the human brain as a part of it. Without going into more tangents, I’ll simply say that the human brain could at some point be understood enough that we could read and manipulate the mind? I mean, one could argue that the brain is at a physical level only electronic signals traveling through the brain cells, much like perhaps a computer, and in any event entirely physical. So in a sense, the physical study of the brain does indeed lead to what a fashion designer does. Or, in other words, fashion design is applied physics.
I know it’s all a stretch, but we simply cannot go any further without acknowledging that everything is this universe is based on the application of physical principles. Even the unexplained (the supernatural, theoretical physics) has the possibility of being explained using perhaps a new set of descriptors similar to the mathematical and language descriptors we have today to describe our universe. I would wager that everyone has had at one point a simple “gut feeling” on something, that one could in turn attribute to causality or predestination or even chance.
And the very last portion of our reality is our ability to think, ask questions, rationalise, and indeed, live. And that is what philosophy is: taking thoughts to their (not always) logical conclusions. So no matter what you do (or don’t do), you can always think about it, or think about thinking about it, or follow this path I’ve outlined here to see that our reality is truly based on the ability to exist or not exist.
I’ll leave you with one parting thought: could you imagine a universe where there existed not only existence and non-existence, but rather a third measure or perception perpendicular to the plane of existence?