Is our Perception of Reality a Hallucination?
What are you looking at? Is reality really there? What are we seeing?
These three questions seem simple, and yet when you consider the gravity of their answers they become anything but simple. For instance, answering the first question with a noun will likely turn up a description or label of a thing, something of physical substance. Yet with our understanding of the fundamental emptiness of what we thought of as matter once upon a time actually being wave-forms vibrating at specific frequencies which interact with other wave-forms in interesting ways and our senses take that in and the brain makes an interpretation to present what we actually perceive to our consciousness, we know it’s anything other than that old model of solid things with substance.
The second questions’ simplicity is called into question with that understanding as well, though all we can say for sure is we think so because it seems persistent from our perception. That leaves us pondering the third. Largely it’s a mass hallucination we all mutually agree upon. At least according to Anil Seth, a British professor of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience at the University of Sussex, as he asserts in his Ted Talk “Your brain hallucinates your conscious reality“ from his extensive work in the field. Coupled with the understanding society naturally generates a social consciousness itself based on the collective attitudes and understanding of its members, we really have to question our assumptions of what is real and what is just made up.
What does this mean for us?
There are many fears and protests against such an idea, but the evidence is still clear for anyone to examine for themselves. The measurement problem, the Observer Effect, Quantum Entanglement, Emergence Theory, and the mystery of the origin of consciousness, all coupled with perception tools that just make things up, this all calls into question the basics of our everyday experience. It makes us ask is anyone else ever really there which is the classic Solipsist question. That thought is no more rational than there being others when we consider they may also be participating in a reality with us that is more like what we think of as a dream than we are comfortable admitting.
That’s what we really are from the writing on the wall of our collective dream; from the cave wall, to the poet, to the quantum scientists making amazing discoveries over the last hundred years. The most significant connection may one day be recognized that this line of thinking and modeling reality leads to the discovery of the mechanisms underlying quantum mechanics and maybe the true nature of our reality. Who knows for sure where it will take us from here, but we have to be looking and going that direction with our thoughts to find out.
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