After more than a millennium, philosophers are still wandering in Plato’s Cave.
The muddy footprints in the cave lead to countless labyrinths in which the wanderers have sought reality. Carved into the cave’s primordial walls, there is graffiti: “Plato was here,” “Kant was here,” “Hegel was here.”
With the advent of science, scientists stayed out of the cave. They chose to seek reality in the sunlight of logic, experimentation, mathematics, and the extension of the senses via microscopes, telescopes, and other technological gadgets.
In an instant—when measured against the timeline of civilization—a significant number of scientists have joined their fellow wanderers in the cave. Ironically, their search for reality there is fruitlessly aided by unparalleled technology.
For various reasons (including reason itself), I don’t intend to dispute their choice to seek reality in the darkness of the cave. But I’d like to express the thoughts that flash through my mind when I hear of ethereal cosmological concepts. Those thoughts arefor want of a better wordwhimsical. Indulge me!
I pretend that I’m on the mirror side of reality. That is, I imagine that I am pure energy and totally devoid of epistemological faculties: I am without senses, and therefore without experiential knowledge. I am purely metaphysical, but loaded with ‘nous.’
And here is the extreme extent of my fantasy: I reverse Descartes’ notion, I think therefore I am to the reality of which we all know: I am, therefore I think. Suddenly (and inexplicably, of course), I perceive the material worldearth, water, air, and fire.
What an exquisite revelation of reality! Galaxies! Stars! Atoms! Solids, fluids, gasses! A hot sphere at the center of other spheres revolving around it! Oceans, deserts, and mountains! Life!
Rather than hide reality from me, as the cave dwellers believe, my senses reveal it to me. Now, being dazzled by a reality I could not have perceived without my senses, I know what it was my intuition whispered to me when I was no more than a shadow of some Ideal Form outside Plato’s cave.
Taking my whimsy a step further, I compare communications from the cave with those of scientists, classic and quantum, past and present. Having just been empirically connected to the universe, I am dazzled by the reality I now perceive.
But, in tune with current cosmology, I observe a number of cosmologists who have wandered into the cave. Akin to their philosopher counterparts, they posit convoluted theories. Among those, is the Holographic Principle. It is unnecessary to describe it here. You probably are already familiar with it. If not, it’s a hot enough topic to pick up easily online.
Unlike disciplined classic or quantum physics (!), the Holographic Principle is based on fantasy. Although it includes familiar concepts like black holes, event horizons, and dimensions, it is as irrelevant as the shadows on the walls of Plato’s cave.