I’m officially starting this post a day before I publish it because of the complexity of the thoughts I’m attempting to sort through. After watching a few documentaries over the last couple of days, I’m currently wrestling with numerous ideas in an attempt to remove the roadblock that stunts our ability to know something in its real and philosophical sense.
The films—which are likely considered controversial or fake news—compelled two overarching questions as my mind reacted to what I was seeing and hearing:
- How can we discover objective reality while knowing that our subjective worldview shapes our consumption of information?
- In what ways does the visual cortex filter the information we might otherwise consume if we did not have the power of sight?
The documentaries were The Plot Against The President, No Safe Spaces, and Hoaxed. Each of them covers alarming trends in the legacy media and our bedrock institutions, both public and private.
I will assert that the films are a decided departure from the sort of content found in most documentaries. The people who produced them are not well-received in legacy media circles. Finally, each feature openly promotes an agenda. I’m offering this information both as a disclaimer and assuring you that I have no intention of discussing politics in this post.
The films themselves were merely a starting point for how I cogitated around the questions I listed above. I’d like to spend the remainder of this blog discussing both concepts as I understand and can articulate them.
My first question focuses on objective reality. For me, I find objectivity through Nature and the Natural Order. I intentionally capitalize those terms because I believe they are part of God’s Divinity. It makes little difference whether a person believes in God to acknowledge the symmetry and objectivity of Nature.
We can see in flora or fauna, in mammals or reptiles, and in the sentient or intuitive, the scope of objectivity in our world. When an animal is hungry, it looks for food. When it is scared, it resorts to fighting or flight. When the seasons change in the hemispheres, far removed from the equator, plants burst forth during a full growing season and shrink during the colder months.
This reality is objective. Regardless of how each of us subjectively interprets and consumes the natural world, it follows this routine until some outside force changes the homeostasis. This change can be temporary, like a fire or drought. It can be permanent, as the climate has consistently changed over time since Earth was formed. The natural world resumes what order it can after any such change or adapts to create a new balance among the living organisms that can survive in the new environment.
And understanding the example of Nature as objective reality demonstrates proof the concept exists. If it exists in Nature, it can exist in mankind. I say can, in this instance, because we have to remove ourselves from the emotional decisions we make to observe the world we live in through a rational lens. Even then, not every event or statement, or phenomenon can be rationally explained or objectively understood. Man can act in both rational and irrational ways. This gift, or curse depending on the situation, allows us to select an objective or subjective interpretation of reality.
Ultimately, if we intend to observe objective reality, we must divorce ourselves from our emotions—even if only for the briefest of moments to engage in the intellectual exercise—to draw conclusions based on rational thinking.
My second question focuses on the visual cortex. The portion of our brains that collect, analyze, and filter the visual information we use to make decisions is a fantastic piece of hardware. Try as scientists may, I doubt they will ever be able to produce a system that works with the synergy, speed, and processing power as our eyes, visual cortex, and reasoning skills.
The information we consume visually is often the most dramatic sensory information we receive. Vision is our dominant sense. Please don’t take my word for it. That statement comes directly from Dr. Thomas Politzer, the former President of the Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Association.
Knowing the importance of the information we consume visually allows us to compare the value of that information against a person who was not born with the gift of sight. A person born into blindness can only accept others’ descriptions to understand the superficial features of our natural world. Even then, the blind man has no frame of reference to contextualize the physical gradations that allow for nuance. With no color palette to compare minute differences of shade, the blind man must accept another’s interpretation of that which he cannot see or forego the exercise altogether.
The example of the blind man tells us that much of what we consume visually is interpreted subjectively. As a result, we enter into each new interaction with a running total of prior experiences based on similar visual stimuli that shaped those experiences. It is the very process of visual discrimination. Please do not misunderstand me here. In a benign sense, visual discrimination merely allows you to recognize the door seated in the wall. Your eyes look for the outline and guide your hands towards the knob or lever to open the door. If you could not visually discriminate—much like the blind man—you would be forced to rely on other means to find the door. You may grope in vain until your other senses developed to a point where you no longer missed your visual acuity.
In this sense, our power of sight deceives us. It compels us to observe new visual information in reference to previous visual information. While it is a natural and protective survival skill, it carries judgment. The judgments we make based on new visual stimuli may be right or wrong. They may lead to a positive or negative outcome. They may elicit joy or fear or any range of emotions in between. Regardless, our reliance on visual stimuli—understandable, given the overwhelming power of the combination of our visual cortex and reasoning skills—disrupts any attempt to enter into new interactions without at least some degree of reference to prior interactions of similar scope.
As I make sense of all of this, it leads me to wonder what it must be like for us to know one another only through our souls and minds. As nobody on earth can accurately depict what Heaven will precisely look like, I imagine that in Heaven, we are only our souls and minds. The superficial is wiped away, and we have no need for the most powerful of earthly senses—sight.
If we could know one another through soul and mind, with no context for the superficial, we could discard prior visual judgments that stain our interactions. We would likely become more rational as the visual information we consume would cease to exist, no longer producing irrational responses.
All of this is conjecture. I cannot prove how we would behave in a world that offered no sense of sight. It is an intellectual exercise. The purpose of the exercise is to recognize that we make choices, either consciously or unconsciously, based on the visual information we subjectively consume.
For me, knowing that objective reality exists, and knowing that a rational discourse might exist if we were not burdened with the power of sight, leads me to believe that we can still find common ground and understanding on issues dividing us. We need to divorce our emotions when we judge reality; else, we will never see it objectively. We also need to recognize the incredible—yet sometimes subversive—power that comes from our subjective interpretation of visual information.
If I could only see your soul and mind, I would be forced to interact with you on a rational basis. The same would be true for how you see me. Our superficial identities would cease to exist. We would be left with only empirical data to determine the good and evil in one another.
As always, this has been the World According to Chris. Please hit the like button or leave a reply.