Reality Science: perceptual field or perceptual void?

Reality science is approached as if reality exists in a perceptual void. Ordinary experience dictates that reality is inextricably tied to perception. Is getting the science right an either/or proposition, and if not, what are the implications to wise and meaningful inquiry about reality?

As children we wonder. As teens we tinker. As adults we order. Exploring the dynamic connections among wonder, tinkering, and order is what professional scientists do.

Noticing this, we can be curious about what it means that the human perceptual condition is necessarily what blends reality and science together. What is today deemed “reality science,” was, before the advent of science, constituted under the guise of the various philosophies born of perceptual experiences.

In theoretical physics today we see reality science assuming the form of intricate mathematical formalisms and fantastical existential twists. Like a toad warming in a pot though, unaware that it is on the verge of perishing, the slow but steady soup created by such a trend is hopeless. It tastes of: "Reality is mathematical. People concerned with the perceptual field they experience best focus on consciousness.” Of course in such a recipe, "consciousness” is little more than a tail-less paper donkey. A hapless catch-all for everything messy (non-mathematical), used to play a child’s game.

Philosophy concedes too much in the face of reality science’s perceptual vacuum. Most disturbingly, it suggests that wholesale resignation of direct, inquisitive perception might be a reasonable basis in assessing reality statements. It’s a dangerous prospect we’re already paying a price for with the state of the media today.

Attaining a state of engaged cognitive exploration — being not just an observer but an Inquisitive Observer – must not be diminished, such as in excluding perceptivity in action from what is valued in society.

We might also ask whether it’s true that meaningful perception makes a reasonable, if not a better, standard for reality science than scientific objectivity. Objectivity towards the whole of reality is an intrinsically unattainable ideal. We have no ability to directly assess and limited ability to fathom something of that scope. This warrants a less flawed goal than objectivity when it comes to reality science.

A few things come to mind along with being curious about meaningful perception. First, we might demand that reality science be given strong justification only insofar as it is able to lay a path for logical understanding and perceptual satisfaction outside of mathematical formalisms.

Finally, I observe that no claim of objectivity, no matter how methodological, can supplant the possibility of the bodily ability to perceive real order beyond that which instruments designed to be objective might detect. At times too, beyond what language of any kind can easily communicate.

Science is not just a method. Nor is it solely a formal history of inquiry. It exists in keeping with the human body’s capacity to perceptively inquire and to participate with others and with all of nature. We don’t inquire nearly enough what it means that the capacity for science itself exists in conjunction with our bodily makeup.

What we’re more likely to be presented with are dire assessments pointing to the limited capacity of our sense organs. It’s an essential story when it comes to justifying ever more elaborate instrumentation and intricate mathematics. It’s shortsighted when it comes to reality science.

Both logic and perceptual complexity, including finely tuned intuition and inspiration, are capacitated directly into bodily existence. Our bodies are our primary instruments. It’s our direct line to insight and understanding. Our nervous systems, sense organs, and biological functioning co-exist in direct relationship within the natural world and other systems they find themselves within. This intimate connection between perceiver and reality can and often does enable a wide range of experiences that resonate with both a felt sense of and conceptual interest in the nature of reality itself.

Being perceptive beings is where we must lay the groundwork for the future of science and philosophy to intersect constructively.

[Image - from the film Contact, based on the book by Carl Sagan]

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