Plato's Electronic Cave...or, Reality is an Abstraction.
I wrote this really in an attempt to clarify my own comprehension although it was originally written as a private joke to two good friends of mine on the subject of apprehending Reality when we first formed
Socialrebirth.org and I added a note on Korzybski's 'General Semantics' to
make it complete....
"What Is Reality?" ~
"LOL to both of you…
Inspect a little closer guys…that solid ground may not be as secure as
first impressions would suggest.
Examine your precious reassuring boardwalk of reality a little closer, and
you will find that you are nonetheless still standing philosophically and
scientifically in the shifting quicksand of Time and Space.
How considerate of me to remind you both.I am touched by my own magnanimous
empathy for you!Our conception of Reality consists of our subjective
experiences (not a good start) and our collective, repeatedly measurable
Personal experience is inherently subjective and therefore questionable as
a means of understanding reality unless it draws on objective knowledge,
external reference and observation.
Ok? Fine so far?
Follow the dots scientifically i.e through empirical data using mathematics
however and we wind up with two irreconcilable world views...
i.e the Einsteinian view of the space-time Continuum and the Quantum view
with it’s weird effects like ‘entanglement’ and bits of matter, ‘real’
matter being in say on average ; 2,000 places at the same moment in time.
A quantum particle travels through a wormhole back in time and returns to
the same location in space and time.
And oh, did I forget to mention the wonderfully weird effects of
This doesn’t bode well if we are to comprehend our experience of reality
Obviously something needs to shift and unfortunately for all of us, it
involves the fundamental foundations of our weltanschaung, our World-
view..is that solid reassuring boardwalk of reality feeling slippery yet?
Ultimately we follow the dots down the rabbit hole and we arrive at the Max
Planck scale where light is both a wave and a particle simultaneously and
the wonderful world of Strings and string theory...but as String Theory is
impossible to test and has not made a single verifiable prediction since
it's conception, it remains for me little more than creative thinking i.e a
As our Mathematics & Science collides and crashes in on itself we need to
recognise at this juncture that our ‘understanding’ is mutable and
constantly shifting subject to the passage of Time…in other words we stand
on shifting sand.
We pause to gather our bearings and gain some perspective …
We begin peering into the darkness with our instruments and discover that
70% of the entire Universe consists of Dark Energy, 25% of the remaining
Universe is Dark Matter.
So in effect 95% of our observable and/or our measureable Universe is a
complete and utter mystery..in other words not part of our collective
reality at all.
We have no idea what Dark Matter is nor what it consists of,Which leaves us
and our precious reality clinging miserably to a fragment of porous
material, a hybrid life-raft cobbled together by a set of mutually
Our raft is the remaining 5% of that deeper mystery and is often termed ;
‘the known Universe’ which makes up our tiny sliver or fine shard of so-
called measurable reality…
This axiom is also in line with Quantum Physics in the now famous Double-
If we acknowledge the old precept that propaganda, the opponent of truth is
as much an omission as a distortion of knowledge it seems axiomatic that
there is therefore then a further challenge to our contrived, gestalt view
of reality and it’s integrity, which comes naturally from the world of
In other words we are not neutral observors here.
The mechanism of Memory for example, the memory of a perceived Past is now
understood to be a pure construct.
We can and do create false memories effortlessly, simply by being asked
leading questions for example...our minds tend to fill in the gaps, the
This process of generating fantasy in the form of false memories is a
creative aspect of our human consciousness and as a phenomena it was first
detailed by Sigmund Freud and C.G.Jung and later became a part of the
interesting daily work of Hypno-therapists at least it's where I first came
across it in the text books of the excellent British Psychologist H.J
We actually construct Memories i.e we don't just experience them as being
'washed over' by a wave of recollections, and it is a part of the human
condition to manufacture these false memories when required.
Therefore it becomes evident upon even the most basic reflection, that our
brains are innately deceptive mechanisms.
The psychological realm, when attempting to apprehend reality personally
becomes a major problem for us.In addition to our Memory constructs, we
need to factor in the inherent bias of our perceived viewpoints, our
particular pathologies, quirks, syndromes, sub-conscious influences and
forces, all of which protect us from associating psychic pain – and thereby
through omission or psychosis alter our consciousness further still.
Originally a Freudian theorem, it is recognised nowadays as orthodox
thinking and now, (and this is by no means the end of our list of
influences shaping our reality) throw into the mix the often paralising
effect which the neuro-peptides flooding our brains have on our
apprehension of reality, chemicals which further contribute to influence
and critically shape our views and you see that our comfortable bedrock is
beginning to look rather porous and sketchy;
“For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks
of his cavern.”
~ from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell by the immortal William Blake.
William Blake and the Modern Man, hounded by the Western Media
So when you go skating guys on the surface of your particular ‘reality’…
skate lightly, or you might wind up falling through a hole in your
mathematics or your philosophy…a tiny, miraculous Black hole…
Thanks to a friend of mine ; Rama Godugunar, I have recently, at long last
properly acquainted myself with Alfred Korzybski, the author of "Science
and Sanity" ~ 1933, who had been described by many as being inordinately
As it turns out, putting aside his admittedly grim scientific prose,
conceptually his message is powerfully convincing and his views have become
really quite straightforward and reasonable and not at all difficult to
Korzybski's perspective which surely owes a debt to Kant, unfortunately
only further unravels our assumed understanding of our Reality.
His obsession of sifting through language, and of holding each word up
against objective analysis in order to eliminate false assumptions, is an
overwhelming type of fever which I have a strange affinity with, having
suffered at times from similar obsessional or hallucinatory states
'Grok' is an invented term from the book "Stranger in a strange Land' by SF
author Robert Heinlein meaning to comprehend something completely, to
really 'know' it in a new, yet alien sort of way as the word is used by an
alien in the book...
Heinlein turns out to be just one of innumerable writers, artists,
philosophers and scientists who have picked up and supped from Korzybski's
~ "My God, it's full of Stars!"
Our problems stem ultimately from their classical origins in Aristolean
logic, in a world of categories beginning with what is "A" and "Not-A" and
Korzybski has shown us that Reality is far more elusive and far too complex
for the imperfect tools of our word constructs, and that Reality can not be
confined by our neat little categories of construction which are really
just abstractions or descriptive models.
A superb example of the symbiosis between Science Fiction and Science i.e
more of the Null-A Continuum courtesy of Korzybski.
My own personal problems with Logic began a long time earlier, when I first
discovered that a particle could be in two places at once.
This began the erosion of my faith in Aristolean logic and our language
Fortunately clear thinking people like Alfred Korzybski have managed to
begin clearing away the remnants of our flawed thought processes.
"The Map is not the Territory" is a famous Korzybski line :
"A map is not the territory it represents, but if correct, it has a similar
structure to the territory, which accounts for its usefulness".
This means that our perception of reality is not reality itself but our own
version of it, or our "mental map".
Meaning that our semantic language constructs for something is not the same
as the thing it describes.
The word 'IS' can cause us great confusion; I am not Jules Elbeshausen, as
the term Jules is used to represent the abstraction only and I am far more
This would seem like such a common sense statement and yet we are
constantly being mystified by our language with the use of the word 'is'
with potentially dangerous ramifications collectively.
Today when we hear for example about a 'War' against an inanimate object
i.e Drugs, or a War against a state of mind i.e Terror, I am reminded that
General Semantics is not something which the American Administration is
familiar with, and it shows us the inherent dangers with our old, familiar
Ironically the great Lewis Carroll, in Sylvie and Bruno Concluded (1893),
had made a similar point to Korzybskis with his humorous description of a
fictional map that had "the scale of a mile to the mile".
A character notes some practical difficulties with such a map and states
that "we now use the country itself, as its own map, and I assure you it
does nearly as well".
I feel that the concept of Ignosticism which is a theological position that
holds that the subject of debate (the existence of one or more gods) has
not been coherently defined, as opposed to Agnosticism, which is something
else entirely, is just one of many schools of thought which owes a great
deal to Korzybski and his fearless, relentless analysis of our apprehended
reality via our nerve impulses and the constructs of our languages.
Does God exist will then become a meaningless question as each person's
description and definition will differ depending on their point of view i.e
which means it is pure subjectivity and the bane of rational, objective
All the semantic supports and foundational struts are breaking now, as I go
tumbling through one interconnected rabbit-hole after another.
I am almost free-falling now....
The winds of friction which are screaming in my ears are merely the cries
of defeated logical conceptions and assumptions under the withering light
of Korzybski's searing search beam as I go plummeting with scalpel in hand
through one broken, smashed assumption after another.
Altho I'm not completely convinced that I will be happy with what I find at
the bottom i.e at the other end of this exhausting rabbit-hole and I am
Considering the tortuously complicated philosophical imbroglio in which we
find ourselves, it appears as if we will ever completely be able to 'know'
It seems as if it doesn't matter what type of cerebral contortions one
wishes to impose on oneself, we will never be able to completely escape the
relative position of the 'eye' in the Observer.
Which just happens to neatly tie in with the results of the dual-slit,
wave-particle experiment, wherein it was discovered that matter behaves
differently depending on whether it is being observed or not...
I need to finish this, as I need some sustenance, some Food.
And as Korzybski is constantly reminding us, alas, I cannot eat the word :