For every observable property φ conceived by us to be an objective feature of the world, we must concede the possibility that φ be sensorily detected by means other than the particular means used by us.
Paul Churchland, Scientific Realism and the Plasticity of Mind, Cambridge University Press, London, 1979.
Looking for something completely different, I stumbled upon this– a note I must have written nearly 20 years ago. Which led me to this, from the same
crappy old book.
The book is a classic in the philosophy of mind, but we’ll set aside its grander– and finer– points to focus on a little exercise you can do just after sundown on a starry night.
The premise is that, if asked, each of us could draw out and explain the organization of our solar system– as in Fig. 2. But,
One only need do two things in order to experience this “gestalt shift,” which Churchland calls, “rather striking.”
Rather striking is an understatement. For me– and I done this many times and it’s always the same– a knee buckles, and I spontaneously shift my weight. The Girls and everyone else I know who have done this experience something similar.
So what must one do? 1) Become familiar with what a few of the planets look like in the night sky, as compared to the stars. This is easy. “They stand out like beacons.” Their colors and intensities make them readily recognizable (see Fig.1). 2) Change– or be prepared to change– your conception of what your horizontal plane of reference is. In other words, be prepared to think not of our earthly, local horizon, but of that of the ellipses of the plants revolving around the sun (Fig. 3 below).
In order “to see the situation as it really is” (as it appears not as you look at the earth’s horizon but of the ellipse) simply tilt your head to the right and line up those planets on an imaginary horizontal line.
I swear to the Good Lord Almighty, you will feel as if you are falling off the planet!