What is the nature of reality.

ragdish
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What is the nature of reality.

Starting to read Hawking's new book. I find the chapter on the nature of reality a bit confusing. Maybe folks here can clarify. He and Mlodinow describe a model-dependant reality eg. Ptolemeic geocentric and Copernican heliocentric theories of the universe are different versions of reality. The Coperincan theory does not disprove Ptolemeic theory. Therefore is it rational to say that from a certain frame of reference that it is correct that the sun revolves around the earth?

Basically all that is required to scientifically describe reality is a set of rules (usually mathematical constructs) that fit a set of observations such that the model is:

1. Is elegant
2. Contains few arbitrary or adjustable elements
3. Agrees with and explains all existing observations
4. Makes detailed predictions about future observations that can disprove or falsify the model if they are not borne out.

Therefore is reality totally relative? With this sort of reasoning, couldn't reality then be subject to the prevailing ideology of a group? For example suppose there is a totalitarian religious society that only permits the geocentric view of the universe. It seems that according to Hawking that their version of reality is not incorrect within their censored frame of reference. 

 


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 Well, I don't have the

 

Well, I don't have the book just yet. Even so, I have some thoughts on the matter.

 

First off, I fail to see how the Copernican view fails to disprove the Ptolemaic view. Either Mars has epicycles or an elliptical orbit. It simply cannot have both. Well, there is a mathematical way to show that they can in fact both work together but not the way that Ptolemy had things set up.

 

Past that, yes, reality is dependent on the perspective of the observer. If you want, I can discuss Albert Einstein's landmark paper “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies”. However, I think that just mentioning that I have a copy on my nightstand makes the point just as well.

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ragdish wrote: Therefore is

ragdish wrote:

 Therefore is it rational to say that from a certain frame of reference that it is correct that the sun revolves around the earth?

Well, yeah. The sun is not stationary, is it. So to think of it simply, if you were to draw the path of the sun as it moves through the galaxy on a certain plane it would seem that path winds around the earth.

Gravitational laws make it correct to think of the earth as belonging to the solar system and revolving around the sun. Gravititational mass makes for a logical order of things in the universe, but there's nothing, really, to say that it is the ultimate order of things, so it's still relatively valid to take the Ptolemeic view.

Ragdish wrote:

Basically all that is required to scientifically describe reality is a set of rules (usually mathematical constructs) that fit a set of observations such that the model is:

1. Is elegant
2. Contains few arbitrary or adjustable elements
3. Agrees with and explains all existing observations
4. Makes detailed predictions about future observations that can disprove or falsify the model if they are not borne out.

Therefore is reality totally relative?

It's our ability to know that is relative, I think.

Ragdish wrote:

With this sort of reasoning, couldn't reality then be subject to the prevailing ideology of a group? For example suppose there is a totalitarian religious society that only permits the geocentric view of the universe. It seems that according to Hawking that their version of reality is not incorrect within their censored frame of reference. 
 

Hmm, no, since their view is totalitarian, and that's exactly what Hawkings description appears to oppose the most, right?

I think we sort the value of views pragmatically, and a geocentric view isn't very useful so, I believe, science would say that it's not necessarily wrong but nobody cares.

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Ken G.
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ragdish wrote:what is the nature of reality

      OK now,wait a minute here.I got to get my thinking cap. Your question should be "what is reality" and move on from there.Nature can mean your self in what you believe reality is.Reality is the observable and the unobservable,it's the state of things as they actually are,not as you think they are.And now with Quantum physics,it can be the nonexistent things that we have yet to know about that might matter the most,who knows ? Did you ever see the TV show "Dragnet" he was always saying "just the facts" Well that is reality,nothing but the facts.The Sun rises in the East is a fact of reality,water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit in China as in the USA another fact of reality,and so on.So the nature of reality depends on how you observe the world and your knowledge of nature.    PS. Did you ever hear of the saying "Nature's red in tooth and claw.

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