Friday, 7 September 2007

Why the Everyday World makes Sense

Some people seem quite confused by the discrepancies between microscopic (quantum) reality and macroscopic (everyday) reality. The fact that the quantum level doesn't follow our normal logic has caused a lot of trouble for scientists (and only slightly less for the general public).

How can a level of reality, that we experience in our everyday lives, make perfect sense when it is generated from a completely illogical, counter-intuitive level beneath it?

The answer has to do with the way we are looking at the problem: macroscopic reality must make intuitive sense. Our minds have developed precisely in order to form predictions about the everyday world. We experience reality at the level of tables, chairs, grass and human actions willed by other minds. Our grip on the world is at the macroscopic level, and over the millenia individual consciousness has developed in order to understand the world at the level where it is active. Our sensory apparatus filters and interprets the world, applying forms and categories to the seething mass of undifferentiated data which bombards us. From this, we isolate and extract narrative threads which allow us to act effectively in the world. We cannot dispute that there are other events going on that we fail to comprehend. There are other narrative streams which simply don't fit into our minds, which don't make it through the logic filter, and so we don't connect isolated events which, seen from another dimension of thought, would be a clear process of cause and effect.

For example, we think in only one temporal direction. We find it exceedingly difficult to view cause and effect running from the present to the past. But doesn't this say more about our minds and the way they work, than about reality itself?

The reason the quantum world doesn't make sense in the same way the day-to-day world does, is not because of a structural shift between two levels of reality; it is because our minds suddenly reach 'home-ground' when we return to the everyday world.

The big question which this is leading up to, of course, is of the relationship between 'objective reality' and the subjective experience. But this is a topic for another blog.

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