TED Conversations

Mike Aparicio

This conversation is closed.

What is Reality?

The concept of Reality is profusely used in posts, replies, comments and arguments. But the fundamental and strongest meaning of Reality seems very confusing and subject to multiple interpretations.
Is "reality" something to do with the past? Is there any reality in the future?
Our human nature, evidently equipped with a collection of senses, seems to be designed to operate in a timeless environment, where there is no past or future.
We can only see, hear, smell, touch and taste IN THE PRESENT.
If we consider the intellect a 6th sense we can only think in the present too!
The present, but the actual present is a very narrow point between what is called past (actually memory) and future (actually dreams).
Or is it we can call "present" part of the past or even worse, a segment of the future?
People, mostly intellectuals have a very diluted sense of the Present. Some speak of the "present years"; others of the "present centuries", which seems to be a total aberration of what the Present actually is!
The Present is OUR Moment of Power. We can only act in the Present.
Or is it any other way?
According to most psychology views, a person is suffering from some mental dysfunction in proportion with his or her separation from the actual, the real Present.
Certainly we can do NOTHING in the past. The same is true in the future.
Of course we can study the past, we can imagine about it, we can accept many fantasies about the past but we can do it all NOW!
Yes, we can make plans, we can speculate about the future, we can even predict it but we do it all NOW!
All those appreciations of time are illusory as the only time we have is NOW. Our NOW is permanent, never changing but always different!
We can't trap it as if we do we are holding to the past and getting out of focus from the actual Reality.
Can it be different?
Could it be there is something more REAL than the subtle, fast moving, always staying, never delayed, never going ahead PRESENT?
I am really interested

Topics: God time
Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Jul 23 2013: The past is past reality... As you also have past fiction...

    The present reality is our current cosmos.

    'reality is what remains after you eliminate all fantasy' someome once said.

    Our descriptions of reality are approximative models, and some of them are so good, that it's better to stick to them until you or others come with an even more refined version of it.
    The best ones have been provided through scientific investigation and observation and research and critical thinking.

    as for time: you can consider it as the arrow of thermodynamics we happen to follow. This description seems to fit reality quite well... Time is a part of reality... however you like to describe it.
    • thumb
      Jul 24 2013: Man! That is the kind of "flexibility" I mentioned at the topic start post.
      The past is not "past reality".
      It is just past memories or records.
      Reality cannot be the past or the future.
      There are no things "in the past or the future".
      The whole universe of universes is full of stuff being or existing NOW!
      And not when I just said NOW! it is past memories already.

      Except if we take the B-Theory of time, where other physicists say ALL events exist permanently, including past, present and future.

      One notice: No one can be absolutely right or capable of accusing any other of being wrong, about ideas on time.
    • thumb
      Jul 25 2013: All those you describe are relative realities, not an absolute one.
      Does your opinion imply there is not an actual fundamental reality, from the human standpoint?
      I do think there is one.
      When people is being asked to concentrate into something, like watching a series of events or performing a certain analysis, the concentration takes place in RealTime.
      The time gap where we can individually concentrate and deepen our focus is the Present or an ultimate reality.
      Paradoxically, it is different for each individual but it is the same in essence. It is the gap between past and future.
      If a human on Earth and an alien in Tralfalmidor are focusing to the Present Instant they are sharing the Reality of Time, no matter the perceptions are totally different, the act is the same.
      • thumb
        Jul 26 2013: The assumption of time is a rather good one, as it gives a really coherent model of the cosmos/fundamental reality.

        I think you focus on how we humans experience the present (you refer to memories and records). I would not assume that our experience of the present is sufficient to build a sound theory.
        It strikes me as odd that you ask a question while you seem to have your own answer already very fixed.

        Note: one can show one is wrong (this is called falsification cfr Popper). Showing one is right is the hard part. This is due to inductive reasoning (cfr Jayness).
        • thumb
          Jul 26 2013: Christophe:

          We can make questions although we might have already an answer. I don't see anything "odd" in it. As I explained before, I issued the question to grab as many different ideas as possible to establish a comparison in concepts.
          If I have extended my point of view is to stimulate others contradict, as you are doing, so the conversation gets richer with more ideas.
          When you say "The assumption of time is a rather good one", which assumption of time are you referring to?
          Mc Taggart, Einstein, Hawkins, A-series, B-Series...?
          The Human Present is the one you think I am focusing on, but not exactly. I am pointing at the True Present which would be the same with or without humans.
          With or without clocks; with or without observers.
          The main flaw in the Time Flow Theory is the supposed "time speed" cannot be figured out.
          How fast actually time flows? (If it flows?)
          Einstein's Relativity proposes a static time-space plane, where events occur along the plane in more than one dimension. Weird but with it's own mathematics.

          I think I am free from Popper's and Jayness as I am not trying to be right or wrong.

          P.S. I see you are a TEDx organizer! Great! We at Galileo University in Guatemala have also done something within the program and TEDx participation! (I think....)
      • thumb
        Jul 27 2013: Thanks for the clarification Mike,

        I see time probably according to Einstein, but I'm no physicist and don't know the equations nor how they operate.
        I see time as a dimension, such as the spatial dimensions. There might be more time dimensions, but there is no experimental data that underpins such idea.

        I sometimes compare time as a 'falling to the future', metaphorically such as gravity pulls us.
        And if nothing were to move (i.e. all particles and probabilities stay the same), then there would be no time.

        As we see it, through experiment, we uncovered the idea of entropy (where I roughly follow the
        Boltzmann's interpretation) and see that entropy and time seem to have a relationship.
        If you look at Wolfram states when he talks about computation, I think he also needs change and a time axis that implies the unfolding of the algorithm.
        This is for me sufficient to accept there is an "arrow of time" (from past to present) that we experience on our scale (even if it might be different on a sub-atomic level)

        If you indicate points on the time line (or plane, or (n)-space depending on your assumptions), and compare them to the "current point", you can measure the distance and compare.
        Being able to measuring time, indicates it exists, and thus I see the past (where the now has passed and the that state of the universe was then) something that was real (compared to fantasies that were not present in that state then). Same goes for the future: which will be the case then, will be real, and the other things will be fantasy.

        Whether we can assume a perspective where you can see it all, or "remains" somewhere... in imagination we can, but I don't know if that's real.
        If you say that there is 'only now', then it is probably something that is relative, as Einstein showed.
        I imagine that kind of 'now' as a snapshot (space- curved) and such snapshots are different for each position you take in that space-time)
        • thumb
          Jul 27 2013: Very nice and illustrative Christophe!
          Very good interpretation of Einstein's concepts. Might it be you are adapting some of the concepts to your particular view, but that is good for the purpose of this conversation.
          Perhaps you forget mathematical demonstrations are valid when there is no possibility of doing experimental research.
          Another lateral conception, maybe not accurate is the notion of "measuring time". It seems so far, there is no real way to measure it. What we do is to measure some kind of motion. Plain displacement with mechanical clocks, electronic flow while charging capacitors in electronic clocks, particle emission (motion anyway) in atomic clocks, shadow motion in clepsydras (solar clock), sand motion in sand clocks, etc. Hence, what we measure is motion: How many turns the clock hands did, how intense is the charging current in a capacitor, etc.
          Time is not really measured.
          Thermodynamics entropy changes could simply be different states at a given time-space plane and no "time motion".
          When you say "the now passes" I would think it twice... Does the NOW really pass? Try to sit down, calmly, emptying the mind from ideas and watch. does the NOW pass? To me it looks permanent, single, unmovable but paradoxically ever changing but not "passing".
          We cannot escape from the NOW except with delusions with the past or future, but we escape only mentally. There is no way we can escape from it physically. It seems to me we are permanently (as long as living) in the HERE and NOW.

          This is really interesting and it is very pleasurable to converse with you!
      • thumb
        Jul 27 2013: - I don't know exactly how Einstein thought about time, but I think he and I might have differed in opinion if we lived in the same "now" -

        I agree that as a human, I cannot but experience something that is "now"-like (though there is a severe problem when you realize that our brains do have some processing delay that are influenced by your attention: http://www.jaimeoliver.pe/courses/ci/pdf/levitin-1999.pdf for example).

        The speed (distance over time) of your neurons (especially synapses) give a problem. Our brain tries to solve it by making projections, so we'll get adjusted for the near future (i.e. an illusion) by the time we realize it. (This also has been shown in a number of experiments).

        As I stated: you can see time as an amount of change (relative to other things that change slower. Change (displacement of clocks, photons, atom decay) is coupled to time and time cannot exist if there is no change. Change happens (this text wasn't here before your last post). whether this is continuous or discrete: I experience it as continuous, but maybe, as the Planck-constant, there might be a finite minimal amount of time.

        As a human, I cannot but say: yes, my experience is what I call the 'now', and only there lies my experience. The recorded changes from past experiences give me the idea that there is something we call a time-line, and that seems to be a really good way to interpret the world on our level (given our size, expected lifespan and sensory limits).

        This conversation does stretch my thinking a great deal.
        • thumb
          Jul 28 2013: Christophe:
          I just read again the Jaime Oliver article you linked, and It is interesting to know I worked together with InStep Systems in Canada to develop a Neural Analysis System to meassure differences in response to stimuli!

          Although interesting it really has not a deep relation to this thread, because "speed of reaction" is not really transcendental to discuss what is Reality!

          I said before, Actual Reality has to be the same with or without an observer or human perception of any kind.
          Subjective Reality is part of the personal ideas about reality but not common features, as the true Reality should have.
          I hope you continue to exchange your good ideas on this thread!

          Thanks!
      • thumb
        Jul 29 2013: Mike,

        I mentioned it because we humans have temporal processing. But indeed, I think that at the time of the dinosaurs, there was also the reality, so we can try thinking without an observer (while still using observed evidence).

        So what would you call history? Something that once was reality?
        If you then place this "once reality" on an axis (to simplify a linear one dimensional Euclidean one, but the same goes for other versions), then you have things that were further away. If we project that line to things to come, then we have our axis that we call "time"

        If you assume there is only the now, and the rest is no longer existing or not existing yet (only when the now slides by). Wouldn't time be a very useful concept to describe our cosmos?

        So if we say "only the now is real, all the rest isn't real", then we still need to differentiate between past and future and what was real at that time and could be real at that future.
        In this sense, I think I can agree, though I would suggest we coin some new words in order to express these things: pre-reality and post-reality for example.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.