One of the problems that has repeatedly bothered me for the last decade is the distinction between physical properties, their measurements, and the values of properties that are discovered during measurement. I have flip-flopped in my understanding of the nature of the problem and what might be a viable solution. I will use this post to describe the problem and what I believe is the best way to resolve it. I will also connect the solution to ideas about the nature of perception and reality in Indian philosophy. But before I begin, let’s take a closer look at how science presently tries to address this issue.
During recent online conversations with several commentators, I heard an oft repeated refrain about science: science is only a model, it has nothing to do with reality; our models may get closer to reality over time, but we have no way of knowing that they have gotten to reality, nor do we know that they will eventually get there. I was taken aback by this line of argument, because I thought we still had some faith in something. I personally could not imagine an existence in which faithlessness pervades our minds to an extent that we treat all possibility of knowing truth as impossible, and be so comfortable with it. After I recovered from this shock, I decided to explore this idea more throughly a post.
Every area of knowledge begins in the question: What is reality? If I see an apple, is it real? If I see some work of art and think it is beautiful, is it really beautiful? Is money real? Is power real? Is objectivity real? Does she really love me? The question of reality pervades every aspect of our existence, and it is no surprise that it appears within science and philosophy as well.