The Nature of Reality – Unorganized Thoughts

So I was having a conversation about Vicki about a few things, and I kinda had this epiphany, which I will share here. I’ll start by citing Heisenburg1 and his divide between a “subjective” reality, grounded in an ethical dimension, and an “objective” one, grounded in a mathematical, scientific dimension. Note that the “subjective” reality may not always be subjective – we can all agree that the Norway massacre was bad. Nor is the “objective” reality always objective, because of the nature of data and its biases and uncertainties.

Now as usual I’m going to start from a quantum mechanical perspective, that is, the world can be described by specific states represented by solutions to the Schrodinger wave equation. Likewise, we can also think of the world as a linear superposition of states. There is nothing wrong with this since you an either analyze a state by looking at its constituents (elements) or looking at it as a whole (a kind of a Gestaltic wholism). Indeed, quantum mechanics (QM) serves as a good proxy for the workings of the world in general. What QM tells us reflects what is readily obvious in front of our eyes. We cannot know everything; the reality is the superposition and the constituents, but our observation (read: bias, analysis, etc.) often collapses this into one single element.

But for now we consider specific states rather than the superposition. And we use this idea to look into the nature of the “objective” and “subjective” reality. I will expand Heisenburg’s definition, and I will expand the meaning of objective to include the idea of a Fact. Meanwhile, I shall expand the meaning of subjective to include the idea of an Opinion. Now granted, this has ambiguity too… the statement “God loves us” is Fact to a Christian, while Opinion to an Atheist. So I will define Fact as something which is truely true, as in what really is true from an omnipotent perspective. So if the Christian God actually does exist as described in the Hebrew Bible, “God loves us” is Fact. Now Opinion I will define as a *variable* qualifier or label to something that is truely true. (If God does not exist, “God loves us” is neither Opinion nor Fact, as it would not be part of any reality.) Note that objective labels (“there are 4 ducks in this pond”) that are absolutely true are Fact.

Examples: “I think this banana is sweet” is Fact because you actually do think that. “This banana is sweet” is Opinion in that you’re labeling the banana as sweet or not sweet.

Facts describe the objective reality. As such, in the QM perspective, Facts are synonymous to States. There is an infinite amount of states, because we can describe the reality around us with an infinite amount of Facts. Opinions describe the subjective reality. Now here’s the kick. Reality is by definition independent of what you or me say. So I’m going to turn my entire post upside down by saying that there is no such thing as subjective reality! (Well, as we have it now – I’ll change up its definition later.)

But there is such a thing as a subjective and objective qualifier. Let’s go back to the “banana is sweet” thing. It’s objective in the context of what is really sweet – perhaps quantified by sucrose concentrations or XXX ion activation in taste buds. In a more general twist, a statement such as “banana is good” can be dissected into objective facts. Perhaps the quality of something can be objectified by its effects, but that’s beyond the point. C.S. Lewis argues in Mere Christianity that some things are universally good or bad. We just disagree on the more minor issues. Other times, we are oblivious to what is really good or bad – female genital mutilation, for example. Our subjective qualifier clouds the more objective qualifier, and the lack of universality among humans doesn’t change the objective qualifier.

The objective qualifier, then, is what I’m going to redefine as the “subjective” reality. It’s the part of reality that is still there, but is often disputed. “There is a lamp on my desk” is Fact. “This lamp looks good” can be objectively weighed against other lamps based on geometry, compositional qualities, and balance. That is the subjective reality, or the objective qualifier.

Objective qualifiers in the QM world represent, ultimately, energy levels. Each state can occupy at most one energy level, but these are discrete at the most generalized level – the level of good and evil. The two cannot mix. In QM, energy levels represent eigenvalues of the Hamiltonian operator in the Schrodinger equation. Each state, or [non-superposition] solution to the Schrodinger equations, spans eigenspaces of those eigenvalues. Together, these sum of all the eigenspaces of all the eigenvalues of the Hamiltonian make up reality. And so, each Fact can occupy an objective qualifier level. Perhaps “this lamp is on my desk” would occupy the eigenvalue “Neutral”. “80 people were killed by a madman in Norway” would occupy the eigenvalue “Evil”. Something like that. Eigenspaces may have arbitrary amounts of dimensions depending on the number of linearly independent eigenfunction solutions that form the basis of that set (this is called degeneracy). In reality, the eigenspaces are infinite-dimensional – there are an infinite amount of evil and good things in this world, and the degeneracies are infinite.

There are some other little things I have to mention. Some things can be more good or more bad or more sweet than others. The eigenfunctions that form a basis set in an eigenspace may have different lengths, which we will interpret here as the amount of good or bad or sweet in a Fact. In QM, the functions are orthonormal. However, normalization is achieved by changing the weights on each of the basis functions, and is a separate consideration, and so we can ignore this discrepancy.

Finally – and apologies for the post’s length – we talk about subjective qualifiers, which do not consist of reality. Imagine what happens in a computer program. There is an objective bunch of executable code somewhere in the computer’s memory, but this is all abstracted in the higher levels by stuff like objects. In OOP languages, these objects can be referred to by a variable. These variables refer, to the object itself. You can change or swap references all you want, but the object itself remains unchanged. Likewise, subjective qualifiers act as references to the eigenfunctions of reality. We do not know the workings of reality itself, just as for beginner programmers, you do not know what goes on in object instantiation. A legit computer program will swap references and variables all the time, just as people change subjective qualifiers. The nature of reality remains however independent of the references you put on it. We see pointers, not the eigenvalues themselves.

1See Physics and Beyond: Encounters and Conversations, by Werner Heisenburg, pp 82-84.

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