George Berkeley, the eighteenth century philosopher who discovered that the visible world is far simpler than scientists and philosophers think
Berkeley’s attack on thought, in 1710
In 1710, the Irish philosopher and scientist, George Berkeley, startled philosophers, scientists and the general public by telling them that the way philosophers and scientists think is fundamentally wrong.
It is wrong because it is based on concepts in the mind that do not and can not exist in the simple three-dimensional visible and tactile world we see and feel.
That is because everything we see and feel is already in the three-diensional past whereas the concepts in the mind that are intended to describe the present and the future use four dimensions.
Berkeley advised scientists to start again and this time, base science only on what is seen.
Fig 1: The difference between what is seen and what the mind thinks has been seen.
What we see are streams of two-dimensional pictures on the two-dimensional retinas in our eyes. Perspective gives the pictures a third dimension, so everything we see is three-dimensional and governed by perspective. Everything we feel is also three-dimensional.
Everything we see and feel has already happened when we see and feel it.
Everything we see and feel is in the past.
The things we see far away lie on lines radiating from a point in the past. That sound’s like the big bang doesn’t it? The big bang is four-dimensional though. What we see is three dimensional and the point is a perspective ‘vanishing’ point. We see railway lines converging to a vanishing point but scientists think railway lines are instantaneously parallel in the instantaneous present so they think we see instantaneously parallel railway lines. Then, having discarded the past, they have to add a fourth dimension to describe time.
Why theories about a four-dimensional past, present and future are wrong
Scientists concede that we can not see or feel the present or the future but they think the present and future are like the past which they think are instantaneously four-dimensional. They are wrong therefore because the past is three-dimensional and irreversible, so it is impossible to deduce anything from it about a hypothetical present and future.
It is impossible to represent concepts like instantaneous speed on a two-dimensional screen so it is replaced by a rapid series of slightly differing pictures. The concept itself is invisible. Its use is justified by scientists by the assumption that instantaneous speed is like a series of slightly differing pictures but that is false because instantaneous speed is four-dimensional and a series of slightly differing pictures is three-dimensional.
Science does not have a law which forbids the use of invisible concepts.
For the last 2000 years and more, tolerance of invisible concepts in science has allowed any Tom, Dick or Harry, or Newton or Einstein or Schrodinger or Heisenberg or A. N. Other (insert your own choice) to add any fantasy he or she likes to science and then to crow that no-one can prove it wrong.
Berkeley corrected that slackness in 1710, but he was not understood. As a result, nothing was done and there is still no law against invisibility in science. All theories use invisible concepts so a law of visibility would remove all theories.
Berkeley’s Visibility Law
If you can’t see it, it isn’t science
Visible things are three-dimensional and four-dimensional concepts are invisible.
Berkeley’s Likeness Law
Invisible concepts are not like visible things
Berkeley used the word ‘idea’ for ‘visible thing’ but he made his meaning clear by writing that we see only ideas and an idea can only be like another idea.
Elsewhere he wrote that ‘the explanations proper to science are not causal explanations but ‘reductions to regularity’. Causal is an invisible concept and ‘reduction to regularity’ means reduction to visibility by expelling invisible concepts. He wrote ‘regularities (visible explanations) provide the sort of explanation proper to science by rendering the particular events they subsume unsurprising. That gives the third law.
Berkeley’s Simplicity Law
If it isn’t simple, it isn’t science
The fourth law is implicit in the other three…
Berkeley’s law of theories
If a theory works it isn’t a theory
It is geometry dressed in the symbols of a theory. Examples are given later.
Everything I know about Berkeley I have learned from Lisa Downing’s long article on Berkeley in the on-line Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy. See sections 2.1.1 and 2.1.2 for his likeness principle and the end of 3.2.3 for reduction to regularity and ‘unsurprising’ science.
Downing remarks that ‘If Berkeley’s Likeness Principle, the thesis that an idea can only be like another idea, is granted, representationalist materialism is in serious trouble’. She is not satisfied that his explanation of the principle is convincing. To make it convincing Berkeley should have included his discovery of ‘reduction to regularity’. Then he would have written A reduced ‘idea’ can only be like another ‘reduced’ idea.
The Berkeley conundrum has fascinated philosophers for 300 years and is the best detective story in science. Read about it in Downing’s article.
Summary so far: Thinking gets in the way of seeing so we should not think about what we see when we see it. We should record first and then think.
Science is not science that thinks but never learns,
And by thinking thought a valid way to know,
Is led to think perspective is illusory
And so to alter it to fit a theory.
On retinas there is no space and time,
But a single line of miles and seconds,
But thinkers say the world is fashioned
From space and time and miles per second,
So thinkers know of four dimensions,
While learners find only three,
And there we stand until pigs fly,
Or knowers learn, what learners know.
What learners know
Everything seen is a picture on a screen
At the back of an eye, of something that has been,
So people never see skies, fries, ties or flies,
But pictures of these things on the backs of their eyes,
And no-one ever sees, hills, rills, frills or pills,
But pictures of these things in the form of stills,
And astronomers never see, stars, black holes, big bangs or galax-ise,
But pictures of these things on the backs of their eyes,
So science is not as it is thought to be,
About trees in quads that people think they see,
It is two dimensions, growing into three,
On the retinal pictures, –
That we actually see.
How perspective combines into three dimensions the properties attributed in theories to four dimensions
What we actually see
Fig B1 is an example of what we see. It is a photograph taken in the hills above the village of Youlgreave in Derbyshire. Though two-dimensional, the picture acquires a 3rd dimension from perspective and the 3rd dimension combines properties separately attributed to space and time in theories.
Fig B1: A photograph of a camera’s 3-d past. The past portrayed runs from the opening of the shutter to about 15 microseconds before that event, and from the rocks in the foreground to the hill in the background about 4.5 km and 15 microseconds away.
The photograph consists of a set of pixels, each with three coordinates. Two coordinates locate the pixel on the plane of the picture and the third is the depth into the picture, conveyed by perspective. The third coordinate answers the question ‘From how far away and from how long ago does the information contained in this pixel come?’ If one unit is used rather than two, the answer to the question is a single number of units so ‘how far’ and ‘how long ago’ can not be separated. ‘How far’ and ‘how long ago’ are two aspects of one thing, remoteness in the three-dimensional past.
A scientist will tell you that the photograph is defective because it does not represent all the objects in it simultaneously and instantaneously like scientists do. He attributes that defect to the finite speed of light-waves. If the speed of light waves were infinite, the scientist might say, all would be well, but it isn’t, so scientists must do something about it, They must re-imagine pictures like Fig B1 without perspective, and correct them to fit the instantaneous pseudo-reality of four-dimensional theories.
Simultaneity, instantaneity, light-waves and the speed of light-waves are invisible concepts with which scientists rip apart the unity of the visible three-dimensional past displayed in fig B1, leaving the wreckage of four-dimensional separated space and time. They call the wreckage ‘science’, their vandalism in changing data, theories’ and unsurprising pictures like fig B1, ‘raw data’.
The continuous updating of what we see
Fig B2 is a time-exposure showing how the slow rotation of a camera resting on the rotating Earth causes the images of the stars to be drawn into lines circulating round the Pole star, every twenty four hours.
Fig B2: The circulating stars. The picture is from Wikimedia Commons.
The images of stars are continuously updated. When the camera turns through a tiny angle a new picture of the star appears in a different place on the picture. Sequences of still pictures create the illusion of continuous motion so the stars appear to rotate around the pole star.
Pictures in mirrors
Fig B3 is a photograph of me standing between a pair of parallel mirrors.
Fig B3: The two mirrors confine this scene to one place but repeated updating carries the images along the 3rd perspective dimension into the past.
The instant accessibility of the stars
When you look at the stars their images in the past are instantly accessible. Due to perspective the images of objects which are far apart in the present are close together in the past. Astronomers tell us that the star Betelgeuse is 640 light-years from Earth and that the image we see instantly is 640 years in the past. That suggests that the 3rd dimensions of the retinas of observers on Betelgeuse and Earth intersect 640 years into the past.
Theories that work
Newton’s Force of Gravity
When Newton saw his apple fall he worked out that things fall s feet in t seconds where s=(g/2)t2 and g=32. That means that the ratio of a second to a foot, s/t, grows by 32 in 186000x1760x3 for ever vertical foot descended on a hill and declines by the same amount for every vertical ascended. As the Earth is approached, mechanical oscillators like those which define seconds in clocks slow down.
Climbing a hill is harder than coming down again because one has to speed up all one’s internal oscillators when going up and away from the centre of the Earth while energy is released when coming down and approaching the Earth.
Newton added the four-dimensional concepts force and acceleration to give a geometrical discovery the appearance of a theory.
The Einstein-Minkowski theories of relativity
These theories describe perspective by putting the convergence of parallel lines into the form of the right-angled triangles of reference frames and making use of Pythagoras’ theorem.
Fig C1. How the numbers giving the lengths of the sides of a triangle are changed into the names of 4-d concepts without changing them from being numbers
Einstein interpreted E, p, c, m, v, g as energy, momentum, speed of light, mass, relative speed and time dilation factor, when they are, in fact, only numbers.
In Minkowski’s theory the last equation in fig C1 is rewritten p2-(E/c)2=-(mc)2 and then p and iE/c are combined into a four dimensional vector, or 4-vector, where i is the square root of -1 and p is a 3-vector and iE/c is its fourth component. That makes it very clear that Pythagoras’ theorem is being disguised as a four dimensional theory.
These pseudo-theories work because they describe geometrical features of observations as Berkeley urged scientists to do. Their authors disguised the simplicity of observations though in the symbols of theories, giving simple geometrical discoveries the appearance of complexity.
Between 1905 and 1915, Einstein spent ten years learning and applying heavy mathematics so that instead of 3-d perspective we could have his 4-d general relativity, still one of the most complicated theories ever invented.
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