“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” Albert Einstein
I’m confused. I was reading an article online that got me thinking. I’m sure at some time or other you’ve heard the question “if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”Well that’s pretty much what I was reading about. It seems that when asked most people answer in the affirmative without a second thought. Their response is based entirely on past personal experiences with sound. Perhaps they’ve heard a tree fall in a forest or in their own backyard for that matter. They recall the loud crack of the trunk splitting and the rustling of the the leaves as the branches rush towards the ground and finally the loud, crashing thud and snapping branches as the tree connects with the earth. They know what they heard so common sense assures them that a tree can’t fall without making a sound, therefore even if no one is there to hear the tree fall, the sound still exists. Makes sense right?
Wrong! Apparently philosophers have a different point of view and have long argued that the concept of sound as well as color, taste, smell and touch are not a part of the natural order of things and exist only within our minds. Therefore in reality the falling tree does disturb the air, creating energy waves that spread in all directions but with the absence of anyone’s ears to receive or ‘hear’ the waves and interpret them, there is no sound. Those individuals who answer yes are basing their answer entirely on a false assumption that ‘sound’ means a human experience when it is clearly a physical occurrence.
Okay so now I’m really confused and have a shitload of questions! I’ve always assumed that unobserved events have the same outcome as those that are observed? But you know what they say about assumption, “Assumption is the mother of all f*ck ups!” So now I’m wondering is sound only sound if someone hears it? If no one perceives(sees, smells, touches) the falling tree or the entire forest for that matter, do they even exist? And what happens if there is someone who actually witnesses the tree falling, but that person is deaf? I’m just not sure what to believe anymore and am left wondering just what the hell is real and what isn’t! It can be mind boggling!
So lately I’ve been laying awake at night wondering about it all and asking myself a host of more philosophical questions such as “If perception is reality and everything else an illusion then are all my experiences taking place within my mind?” “What truly is this thing we call life?” “Can we ever really experience anything objectively?” “How much control do we really have over our lives?” “Am I doing what I’m truly supposed to be doing?” “Is God real?” On and on I go until I either begin to get a headache or I wind up feeling troubled and even a little scared. That’s about the time my mind begins to wander to other more frivolous questions like “if we evolved from monkeys and apes, why are there still monkeys and apes?” “How is it possible to have a ‘civil’war?” Pretty heady stuff right? But the thoughts keep coming and soon I find myself asking “If a mime gets arrested do the cops have to tell him he has the right to remain silent?” “Does a bear really shit in the woods?” and of course the one I’ve long wondered about “Is the pope really Catholic?”
But when all is said and done I always come to the same conclusion. If, in fact, life is but a dream or some grand illusion there is little that I can do about it so who gives a shit! All I can do is try to be a good and righteous person, live and love with empathy and compassion, treat others as I want to be treated, lead by example and hope to high heaven the dream don’t end before I accomplish my mission.
Just a Thought,