r m p









Science fiction has become less fiction, more science. Arthur C. Clarke's wacky idea of a communications satellite turned out not to be so wacky. Space travel is another example. Speculation seems to be prophecy, as Edmund Hall, the New Adam says: in a universe of infinite possibilities and infinite time, every possibility must sooner or later be actualized.

In the last few years, scientists have even speculated that the science fiction fancy of parallel universes may in fact be true. One way this could be is if the binding forces between some atoms do not clash with each other. The space between atoms is so vast that many objects could co-exist in the same space and pass through each other as long as their binding forces did not smack against each other. But it is obvious that there are already many universes in our own experience. There are two kinds.

First, the kind we can move between; second, the kind we can't. There are the Permeable:

a) Universes are social spaces created and maintained by common consent, a game with rules that no one questions as long as they work. These are "cognitive universes," "symbolic universes" (Bergen & Luckmann). They are maintained by "plausibility structures" of peer pressure and assent. Such a universe is a map of reality a group has decided to adopt. To those in another group, these people's interpretations of reality seem to be delusions of reference.

b) But in the common round of daily activities all of us visit several worlds. They may be divided according to the roles we play among the people there. We relate to them in different ways. Sports, theatre, religious services, etc., are also parallel worlds, "finite provinces of meaning," in which different beliefs, rules, standards of  behavior apply, different costumes are permitted, even required.

And then there are the Impermeable: Each person walking down the street is a world unto himself, herself. It is momentarily staggering to become suddenly aware of this. As many worlds as there are people in a rush hour crowd.

As Kant said, the universe, the world, is a transcendental construct. It is a conceptual category we use to synthesize the wide variety of our experiences. And all of us synthesize them differently, so we all have, or are, different universes.

Leibniz & the monadology. Must we always, inevitably, encounter others as functions of our own universes, according to our construal? Can we even encounter them in their otherness? You have had the experience of not being able to penetrate the impression someone has of you. They are operating with a self-sealing premise about you. Any attempt you make to penetrate or disarm it will only be taken as evidence that his or her perception of you is right after all. Because their self-serving picture of you (formed to make themselves look good, to justify themselves) is the paradigm through which they interpret signals that come from you. Maybe you can outfox them by providing so much anomalous data that they will be forced to reconsider their old paradigm and adopt a new one.  




Copyright©2009 by Robert M Price
Spirit of Carolina Web Design