Intellect under Tutelage
Understanding internal processes is one of the most important issues encountered in social life. In daily life, we ask certain things of ourselves: “I wish I hadn’t done that!” Do we really have the power not to do that? Did we want and achieve it? Could we do it? When we want to do something, does that give us the power to do it? When external conditions allow, can subjective processes lead to the same result? Why is this desired? To have the ability to shape one’s own life; to be the master of one’s own destiny: the desire for freedom. In other words, this is how you free your intellect from tutelage. When a person’s intellect is placed under the tutelage of other intellects, that person becomes enslaved, whether they like it or not. This is the case, even when they claim “I am free, I can do whatever I want.” This may even be worse. In what sense? Someone who is unaware that they are enslaved may even be in a more difficult position. I believe they are in a more difficult position. What are we to question, then? If someone is unaware that they are enslaved, can they feel discomfort? How can a person realize that their intellect, life and feelings are enslaved – if they can ever do that? If these questions are posed as a successive and evolving process in human history, this process could be referred to as the “History of Enlightenment.” Drawing upon the concept of the “History of Enlightenment” and the term “Enlightenment” itself, we could –both in this context and in the philosophical sense of the term– talk about the European Enlightenment. The concept of enlightenment was dominant in the 18th-century philosophy, and spread through society as an ideology, influencing the overall discourse of the period in literature, philosophy and politics, and thus gained both an ideological and philosophical character.
Questioning one’s consciousness means questioning oneself, or questioning the materials used by the consciousness, and its historical and logical aspects, and methods. Carrying out this questioning from within our own system of thinking is important in terms of the historicity of our thought. The materials and methods used by a consciousness hold a mirror up to the consciousness itself. The ability to directly study, perceive and criticize our consciousness, to consider what it can and cannot do, and to think about feelings in an intellectual context and in the context of social relationships, using our reason and organism, requires intellectual action. Accordingly, the questioning, inquiring and examining aspects of intellectual action require philosophical thought based on scientific foundations. If this cannot be done with competence, consciousness becomes conditioned to the materials and methods that it uses. Furthermore, other consciousnesses that examine, inquire and criticize those materials and methods come to control your consciousness through these materials. This is the case in sociology, philosophy and psychology. As a more dangerous field, art needs to be considered separately within the world of symbols. In our work, we shift the weight of emphasis to symbols and art, to enlightenment in a philosophical context, and to the scientific discourse from time to time, trying to establish inter-disciplinary connections between them.
Science as a Religion
If we were to ask ourselves what the most reliable form of knowledge in daily life is, the answer would be easy: Scientific knowledge. Why? When we ask and think about this question, can we really give an answer? Can we give this answer because we are educated? Could uneducated people also give an answer? Yes, they could. When scientific knowledge is used properly in daily life, with appropriate references, it is accepted without questioning or objection. If another type of knowledge were put forth, however, be it philosophical, artistic, faith-based or concerning some other field, we would hear from people from all social segments, whether educated or uneducated, with their own requests, ideas or objections to the issue. This shows that scientific knowledge enjoys the trust of people; and this is true even in our society. Even the weak education provided during the post-Republican period managed to build trust in scientific knowledge. This was referred to as “positivism” in the Age of Enlightenment, instilling trust in scientific knowledge, and perceiving and constructing one’s life on the basis of scientific knowledge. The wave of positivism that emerged in the West immediately followed rationalism, in which there was no trust in any knowledge that was not based on experiment. Over time, it became the ideology of modern life and modernism and shaped the consciousness. As education systems were based on positivism, people assumed that knowledge of this kind, acquired through its methods, was reliable. What led them to make this assumption? It was because the opportunity to directly utilize experiment and observe, in other words, to directly participate in experiments under laboratory conditions –as the proposed scientific method– was not available to the masses. We were also among “those who made this assumption”. Even in such classes as physics, chemistry and biology, which are based directly on positive science and experimentation, we conducted very few experiments, maybe one or two, that were given as examples. Empirical science was taught theoretically! Even the term “theoretical instruction” would require a stretch of the imagination, as we only memorized propositions, rather than constructing or learning about the theory behind them. When we look back at that period in our education, what is striking is that we learned about the foundations of the laws of physics –even when it came to the most basic tools, such as pulleys and levers– through pictures in books, memorizing rules and taking exams that were designed to measure rote learning. We were graded on the basis of our memory. A scientific approach requires taking part in an experiment, and shaping our consciousness through the method of experiment, but we failed to acquire this attitude. Those who were able to acquire this attitude did so in the limited environments that allowed experimentation offered by a very small number of schools. These people were the elite, the crème de la crème of society, in terms of education. As access to materials, physical facilities and educators were a matter of economics, education could not become widespread.
If we acquire scientific knowledge as if it were a religious teaching based beliefs, what would be the state of our consciousness? What form would it take? Some doubt remains even when we acquire religious knowledge based on belief. Even when it is taught in a very persuasive setting, there is always some doubt and questioning. We may not question it out loud, as it may be something we question within ourselves when left alone with our thoughts. Scientific knowledge –more dangerously– shapes the consciousness so deeply that you do not really question, when you are alone, whether it is true or not, being put forward as the most sound facts that require no discussion or debate. You could say that scientific knowledge already demands criticism and questioning. Any educated person could tell you that. “Of course everything changes; our knowledge also keeps changing. Knowledge is not absolute, there is no such thing.” These too are memorized lines, and as memorized lines, they are repeated with utmost confidence, just like when a believer whose consciousness has been shaped by belief, repeats what they heard from a trusted priest. This confidence does not emanate from a form of knowledge production witnessed by one’s own consciousness; it is not the type of consciousness that has this confidence. Questioning this type of consciousness is much more difficult.
When we talk about establishing a democratic and free life, about people communicating freely, and producing and transforming themselves, we assume that those who receive scientific education, choose the modern way of life, adopt a positivist worldview, and have an ideology that is consistent with Western civilization as proponents of this view would find it easier to change, to become enlightened and to achieve self-transformation. On the other hand, we view traditionalist people as bigots whose goal is to stop this development, and because they insist on doing so, as aggressive, dangerous and unreformable. Nations, groups and communities who have recently entered the process of enlightenment and who are meeting with positivism, science and the scientific approach for the first time, often experience these concerns. This is how the consciousness of the so-called “enlightened” groups in developing nations is structured, as reflected in their articles, books, discourses and conferences.
On the other hand, there are now elite universities in Western countries that have moved beyond the phase of questioning dogma on the path to enlightenment, and have started discussing formations of consciousness within scientific knowledge, and the problems in its functioning. These problems are discussed in such elite fields as physics and at certain levels of philosophy by groups of qualified people that include philosophers and are also presented to the public in the form of publications. To what extent they are appreciated and understood, however, is another matter. What is the situation in Turkey in this regard? To the best of my knowledge, there is nothing. There are, of course, those who would question this, who hold meetings and stay in touch, although there is nothing concrete in terms of publications, studies, or any other meaningful impact.
Creativity is at an Impasse, as the Age of Communication Provides Access to “Data,” Rather Than to “Knowledge”
In the West, following the transition from the dogmatic to the scientific attitude, it was thought that the problem would be resolved through enlightenment, liberation, creativity and productivity. Yet we now face much more severe problems. Contrary to common belief, our brains have become stagnant and production has declined. Production in the form of repetition has increased. Repetition, industry and continuous production have reached epic proportions. Begging the pardon of today’s artists, the great works of art and philosophy are all in the past. The magnificent art and philosophy of Ancient Greece are now mere memories. The music, poetry and artistic production seen in the Age of Enlightenment, from the Renaissance to positivism, are no longer. Objective or conceptual productions that are repetitive and fail to break the mold have restricted our lives to a significant extent.
There have been suggestions that communication is important in gaining access to knowledge, and that the awareness and conceptuality to be acquired through communication could expand our horizons. I believe this discourse, contrary to what most people think, is not positive. If your consciousness lacks competency in processes of perception, assessment and reproduction, diving into an ocean of knowledge would do you no good, you would simply drown. In this Information Age, we assume we can access knowledge via the Internet. However, we only access data, not knowledge. Knowledge becomes accessible only after the data has been collected, categorized and processed using a certain method, and when the report based on this processing is compared with other reports. To be meaningful, it must be conceptual and evaluated within a theoretical framework. When you fail in this regard, if all you do is press some keys and display some words, you are merely engaging in a more convenient approach to reading books in a library – you will be bombarded with opinions, and your consciousness may even become inert and sluggish.
The Difference between the Enlightened and the Intellectual
What is wrong with living life based on memory and what has been taught, with no questioning made of methodological issues? If you are unaware of these issues, you will have no problems with them, as the vast majority of any society, referred to as the “masses”, are usually oblivious and are quite happy. Who suffers? People who are aware. It is the people who are aware that suffer. True suffering… We call these people the “enlightened” rather than intellectuals. Intellectuals merely acquire and consume ready-made knowledge – they are consumers of knowledge, or at a higher level, they are people who make a living out of knowledge. An enlightened person is different, as they produce knowledge. Their consumption is necessary for their production. They consume because it is a prerequisite for the production of further knowledge. They refer to existing knowledge as needed when trying to resolve a problem. We, on the other hand, offer knowledge beforehand, and then tell our students to “go and do something with it”.
The Brain also Gets Hungry
What are people supposed to do? The way the brain functions, and the way the brain produces, is the opposite of that. The brain, like the rest of our organism, gets hungry, and looks for things to satisfy its hunger. It equips itself with the tools it needs to satisfy this desire, and applies different methods to achieve its objectives. If this is not the case, then the whole thing is imaginary. “Take this knowledge and use it at once.” To what end? Why would I do that if I don’t need to? Today, the motivation of the subject to produce philosophical and scientific knowledge, and even works of art –in the sense of the urge that leads to taking action– is recognized to be a need. There is no sense without need. In ordinary English, I call this need a “hunger” – the hunger of the intellect. A person whose intellect is not hungry does not need knowledge. If your feelings are not hungry, why would you seek to encounter an artistic object or setting that could refine your feelings? There is no hunger. The most basic requirement for hunger to emerge is awareness, which leads to questioning. This is what we would like to question in a philosophical sense: awareness. What gives rise to this awareness? What methods can be used to create awareness? What should be questioned, and how should the consciousness work if this awareness is to emerge? How can we achieve this in terms of social competence? Can this turn into a passion? Can we pass it down from generation to generation? Can we teach it? These are just some of the propositions, but I will not discuss them further. In a liberal democratic environment, for this environment to be internalized, a competent free consciousness must be present as an individual and questioning must be based on criticism. Criticism is not accusation. Criticism is a concept that involves evaluation.
The Physics of an Age Affects the Forms of the Consciousness of the Age
We have discussed and attempted to explain that the method used for the production of scientific knowledge shapes consciousness. Today, we all know that theories of physics form the methodological and theoretical foundations of scientific knowledge. In other words, the theories of physics, and the mathematical formulations or mathematical language used to express these theories, form the entirety of the methods and materials used by the human consciousness in the name of being scientific. This is also the ground that underlies our formations of consciousness that lead to dogmatic attitudes: science, empirical sciences, the most reliable sciences. These are the environments that feed the soundest and most persuasive data to our consciousness.
Science is a matter for the mind, and not for the reason. What we refer to as science consists of experimentation, observation and measurement, which are all issues of design, aren’t they? Coming up with designs is the job of the mind; this is what the mind is capable of. With regards to the scientific attitude, we can conduct science through verstand (mind), not through vernunft (reason). We cannot conduct science through abstractions. If we have a consciousness that organizes experimental knowledge on this basis, the problem that emerges when our consciousness produces and uses knowledge of scientific or objective reality, whether freely or in a restricted manner, relates to the methods of knowledge, not the object of knowledge. If we were then to focus on the scientific attitude or the scientific method itself –leaving aside reflective thinking, rational abstraction and the philosophical dimension of the scientific attitude– we could question whether or not this method liberates our consciousness. We can understand this questioning, in theoretical physics, by comparing Newtonian physics or classical mechanics with Einstein’s theory of relativity. If the consciousness adopts the forms and methods of Newtonian physics, it acquires an absolutist, uniformist character that enslaves itself; and in time, it becomes a dogmatic consciousness. This happens involuntarily, and is not a matter of choice, and while dealing with this, the method captivates the human consciousness.
Questioning the Type of Our Consciousness through the Theory of Relativity
Let’s read a sentence from Einstein’s theory of relativity: “Two observers in relative motion to one another perceive the other’s time as moving slower.” Let’s think about that for a while. This is not understandable from the perspective of Newtonian physics. With the phenomenon of time dilation, “each perceives the other’s time as moving slower”. The theory doesn’t say “each feels”, it says “each perceives.” This is a phenomenological matter. “A clock in relative motion to an observer ticks slower than a clock that is at rest.” This literally says that an ordinary clock ticks slower when it is in relative motion to an observer. “If we send one of two identical clocks into space on a rocket, and keep the other on earth, the clock on the rocket will tick slower than the clock on earth. For a time period ‘t’ that elapses between two events on the spacecraft, a longer ‘t1’ elapses on earth. Observed from the earth, the events that mark the beginning and the end of the time period occur in different places, and as a result, the time period is perceived to be longer than the actual time. This effect is known as ‘time dilation.’” A concept called “time dilation.” Can our consciousness comprehend this concept? How can we make our consciousness understand this concept? These are the results of the theory of relativity. We could memorize these results and pass exams, but would we understand? I say, let’s delve into this theory, “let’s question”. We would be in error if we simply repeated these propositions and acted like we understood; we should try to understand rather than to just pretend.
One of the twins stays on earth, and the other goes into space and returns on a rocket. How fast does the rocket travel? At the speed of light. “When the other twin returns 30 years later…” Thirty years according to whom? The one who stayed on earth lived for 30 years and got older, whereas the other twin is three years old. When we attribute this to “the speed of light”, do we really understand anything from that? How does it work? It is about speed, it is about the distance traveled, it is about whatever, but we need to comprehend what we are “questioning” when we raise this question. We need to question our form of thinking.
“They may all happen at the same time, but movement and distance create time,” you could say. Or, we could try to resolve our problem by designating a time out of time, a moment that is uniform, with multiple times in flow. It is this on which Newtonian mechanics is built.
According to Newton, “Space is filled with a matter called ether, which is permeable, flexible, shows no resistance at all, does not prevent movement, and does not change direction of movement.” Why did he propose this ether? It was because ether is found all around the universe at the same time, and equalizes matter and time. This is what Newton, and later Kant, used ether for. Einstein does not simply claim that no such thing exists. He shows, experimentally, that ether does not exist. How? In his explanation, he says, “There is no such thing as ether.” Alright, so what? Are we to debate whether or not ether exists? You may notice, however, that this feels like questioning a belief or a dogma. It is akin to questioning whether God exists or not.
Einstein makes no mental or psychic claim, he does not say anything along the lines of “Time passes slowly to the person who is in pain, and faster to someone who is happy.” He says the very existence of matter concerns its internal time flow or the status of its movement, as every existence involves movement. It goes something like this: “This object, now in its own time, and of this form and density, and with these measurements, according to the scientific data and knowledge we have, is not eternal and timeless; it is not absolute. The same object, in another time, has another form and weight, and is in a different dimension and state.” Here, we will try to grasp its time. What is its time, the form of its movement and its existence? We call this reality, according to Newtonian physics. The same object, at this speed, in this time flow, has this reality, while at another speed, it has another reality. It has different dimensions and a different mass, different effects, different magnetic relationships… Everything changes. I am trying to say that words don’t do much either, other than replacing one another. Are these changes in energy? Yes. What did we say earlier? We said “changes in movements.” That works too. What if we said changes in mass? That works too. What about changes in speed? Yes. Are you talking about changes in time? Yes. What do we take from all this? Look, I said yes to all of them. What do we get? What are we supposed to understand? We should question the state of our consciousness.
To what end do we say these things? What for? What is its object? Matter. What is matter? Has anyone here seen matter? What are molecules and atoms? They are matter. What is matter, then? It is özdek in Turkish, right? So, what is matter? Has anyone really seen matter?
What is a Reference System?
“Observed from the earth, events that mark the beginning and the end of a time period take place at different places, and as a result, the time period is perceived to be longer than the actual time. This effect is known as ‘time dilation,’” we said. We will be using this later. “However, for someone aboard the spacecraft, there will be no such slowing of time; the clock will be perceived to be ticking at a normal speed.” Think about the way we look at our watches now, how we are used to these clocks ticking and their material references; it is the same when we are moving at that speed in space. There is no problem. How do you know? At the very least, we know because the astronaut moving at a speed of 46,000 kilometers a second experiences the same thing, that’s how we know. A person and a clock aboard a rocket move at the same speed. Here, we should consider the reference systems.
A “reference system” is not the same thing as a “reference.” First of all, system is dizge in Turkish. The term “reference” refers to the association of an object with another object. What about system, then? If those objects of reference constitute a whole with their relationships, in other words, are integrated with one another and complement one another, then it is called a “reference system”. In the example of the rocket, we have the following: The rocket is a reference object, the clock is another reference object, and the astronaut is yet another reference object. When we observe these three reference objects in terms of their relationships with one another, it means we are looking at the clock within a reference system. As such, the “time” that the clock shows flows at a certain rhythm, within a specific reference system. But it flows differently according to another reference system.
Einstein, Freud, Marx
“However, for someone aboard the spacecraft, there will be no such slowing down; the clock will be perceived as ticking at a normal speed. If this observer has a twin on earth, they will find that their twin is older than they are.” In classical physics, time flows at the same speed for everyone and for all objects – this is important. This was how they thought about time as a reference. “…and it was considered to have a uniform flow, but the theory of special relativity showed that time flew at different speeds for two observers in relative motion to one another. This was proved in 1920 by American scientist Herbert Ives.” Einstein was a very interesting thinker. I will call him a “thinker,” but he was also a physicist. He was a physicist-cum-thinker. But in fact he was more of a thinker. When you examine Einstein’s theory, you find that it resembles that of Marx. Einstein, Freud and Marx are all similar in the following sense: All three were revolutionaries, and all upended the conventional consciousness and way of living.
The Importance of Comprehending the Phenomenon of Process in Restructuring Consciousness
Just as science severed from its process is not scientific, scientific concepts cannot be understood when severed from their processes. Herein lies the problem, and it is a very enjoyable problem, although it would appear to be difficult. Hegel has a saying; one that I memorized. He says, “Consequences without process are meaningless.” Look, this is a very important principle. This is my motto in life. This is what I ponder and question most frequently for the sake of my consciousness. Let me give you a very simple example of process: Look at this pen, an everyday object. This is a meaningless thing. Yes, it is meaningless. When does it become meaningful? It becomes meaningful when we know about the process of its emergence. Look, this pen is a consequence, it is not a meaningful thing. You can create its process only within your consciousness. As you create its process in your consciousness, you also conceptualize it and turn it into knowledge; you turn an object in your hands into knowledge. This means that the method you use in doing so determines your consciousness. Immanuel Kant questioned this, but without considering its process. Look at Kant’s teachings and you will see that he only compares consequences and states. He examines facts and objects in the here and now, in relation to their spatial and temporal positions.
I digressed here to explain the difference in time. For Hegel, there is no object or fact in the here and now, and thoughts that correspond to them cannot exist in the here and now, either. Hegel argues that our language does not exist in the here and now, either, in that it has a history, a process of development, and stages of emergence. The same applies to objects. For example, this chair here did not come into being in the here and now, it has a history and a process of emergence. Hegel mostly used this to explain thoughts. Marx ran with the following idea: “If this is the case,” he began, and reached the conclusion that societies do not simply exist as they are in the here and now, as a society can only be defined if you are able to comprehend its historical process. I have said that Freud, Marx, and Einstein were all revolutionaries. These three great thinkers exemplified thinking in different ways –the idea of process, context and reference systems– and made us realize one more thing. They focused on a concept –a single concept, a single concept from within the fact– and sought to re-organize and re-develop all of the concepts related to the previous process.
When you read Einstein’s physics and his theory, you are amazed. I mentioned the dilation of time, and everyone thought I was talking about Einstein, right? Yet, it was first discovered in 1920 by American scientist Herbert Ives. This is why I added this line underneath. Transformation was discovered by Lorentz, electromagnetic fields by Maxwell, the uniform speed of light in all fields in the Michelson-Morley experiment, and then De Broglie, Poincaré… Let me ask this question: What did Einstein do? What did this man do? You would be amazed. The concepts of his theory were all created and defined by previous physicists. Einstein did do something, he did the most important thing: He did what Marx did. We can understand it when we look at Marx’s economic theory. Anyone who has read Das Kapital would know. Is it readable? You need to know economics, you need to know philosophy, you need to know political science; only then can you hope to understand, and only if your logic can follow the dialectical method. This is why positivist Marxism made the world what it is. By positivist Marxism, I mean the failure to conceptualize its method of consciousness and method of facts in life. In other words, the failure to adopt or internalize the method of dialectical thinking –a “method” I call it– as a method. So, what did Marx do? All his concepts were coined by previous economists, just like in the case of Einstein. Marx systematized them. Marx says he contributed and coined only a single concept – the concept of “surplus value”.
The saying “Consequences without process are meaningless” is akin to this. We begin without a method, context, or function in the process, and move toward integrated concepts, toward theory. This was the case also with Einstein. Using the concepts of speed, time and energy, Einstein systematized the physical determinations, mathematical propositions and experimentally proven realities that, until then, had been little more than independent experimental or observational data, associating all of them with one another. This association was not imaginary. He put them forward as proof and comprehension of the existence of objects, as the only possible narrative. Understanding and failing to understand are very interesting here. Failure to understand leads you to doubt. In other words, you realize the limits of what exists – that is to say, the limits of your consciousness. Failure to understand, going beyond understanding – understanding a failure to understand. The suffering begins when you understand the failure to understand.
The Difficulty of Comprehending the Relativity of Simultaneity
If “time dilation” is one important part of the theory of special relativity, the “relativity of simultaneity” is another. “Because duration is relative, events that are perceived to be happening at the same time by an observer will not be perceived as happening at the same time by another observer who is in relative motion.” There are two events that, according to one observer, happen at the same time. For example, a lightning strikes both here and there. According to this observer, the lightning strikes at the same moment. Another observer, in motion on a train, observes the same events, but these two events will be perceived differently by the observer on the train; and so the same events will not produce the same knowledge. “In other words, two observers in relative motion at a constant speed will have different perceptions of the time that passes between two events that take place in two different places. If one of the observers perceives these two events to be happening at the same moment, or simultaneously, the other will perceive a time lag between them.” When it comes to the perception of objective reality, high speeds in space matter a great deal. In daily life, however, where relative speeds are low, we don’t notice anything. The manner in which an external fact is conceptualized and formulated does little to change you. What will change you is how the self-existence of an object, or in other words, the fact (movement or existence) of motion has a different time relative to another object, or exists with that time difference. Once you start comprehending this, you may be led to ask the question: “Are we really living in the same universe?” From which vantage points are we looking at one another? In which dimensions? Time and existence. If we had a standard existence, and its movement created time, we would have no problems. Newton’s physics was just fine, was it not?
Back to the relativity of simultaneity, then. “A train in motion…” I am using the same terminology used by Einstein. I should make direct quotes, so you will have an easier time understanding these issues when you look at literature and see the same example. “Assume two lightning bolts striking both ends of a train in motion at the same time. An observer outside the train, who happens to be at the midpoint of the train when the lightning bolts strike, will see both of them striking at the same moment.” An observer stands at the midpoint of the train, and the lightning bolts strike both ends of the train. The distances are the same. Why did they strike at the same moment? Because the time period, the distances involved and the space are the same, and the speed of light is constant, so the light travels the same distance in the same amount of time to the observer, who subsequently says, “These two events happened at the same moment.” “However, an observer inside the train, also at the midpoint, will claim that the lightning bolt that struck the front end came earlier.”
Assume they have cell phones and are talking. The outside observer will say “Wow! Lightning bolts struck both ends of the train at the same time.” The observer in the train, however, will say “No, the one at the front struck earlier; you must be mistaken.” Goodness gracious! Is there a delusion, or are feelings involved? No. Here is the interesting part: We have different realities. It is very interesting how verities can be the same, but realities are different. Verity, in other words law or concept; determining an objective reality according to a law; verity or truth. This is the same, because it is a law; it is not a fact, it is a law. Reality, on the other hand, is a fact, it is different. There is not a single fact, but multiple facts; there are realities. Multiple realities. What about the truth? There is one truth: law. For you conceptualize realities according to a law. This is what we call “reference.” “However, an observer inside the train, also at the midpoint, will claim that the lightning bolt that struck the front of the train came earlier. As the train is moving toward the lightning strike at the front, the observer will perceive the light coming from the strike at the back later. If the train was moving at the speed of light, the observer on the train would never perceive the light from the strike at the back.” This observer will simply not perceive the light, no matter what you say.
What was science? What was scientific knowledge? Science is experiment, observation, and measurement. What about something we cannot observe? Experiments are conducted to make observations. There is no such thing as experimenting for science, there is only experimental observation. The difference between experimental observation and pure observation is this: Observation means observing unchanging objectivities or events and facts. The word “unchanging” here means unchanged by the subject, or more appropriately, “mere observation, observation without interference.” They may of course change for other reasons. Repeated perceptions are called “observation.” Experiment, on the other hand, refers to observation after changing the conditions of something and by interfering –called a “setting”– we don’t leave it in its natural state, instead, we set a trap creating an experimental setting. What do I do after changing the conditions? I accumulate perceptions, or observe. Experiment exists for observation. In the final analysis, scientific knowledge is measured through observation. An experiment, on the other hand, is a subjective intervention that involves a conceptualization and a will that sustains observation. If we cannot have scientific knowledge without observation, who, in reality –see, another reality is being born– is to benefit from lightning striking the rear end of a train moving at the speed of light? The observer would benefit, of course. For non-observers, however, no such reality exists. How amazing!
Berkeley, one of the most prominent proponents of subjective idealism, said: “There is no objective reality as long as I don’t perceive it. Objective realities are limited to my senses.” Everyone became angry with him, and especially the materialists, who claimed that “They don’t exist if I close my eyes” equates to “I wish they didn’t exist.” But they do exist. What Berkeley meant, probably, was the finding we encounter in Einstein’s physics: In the context of observation in reality, if your perceptions, experiences or observations do not permit measurement, there is no scientific knowledge. As such, everything requires measurement. Measurement is what gives us scientific knowledge. The others are prerequisites for measurement. What you cannot measure, you cannot know. I only know what I measure. So, what are my references for measurement? My methods and references for measurement constitute my reality. In this case, different realities mean different measurement and reference systems. Lightning bolts that strike simultaneously according to the observer outside the train are perceived to occur at different times by the observer on the train. Here, it would be meaningless to ask “Which one is true? Who is telling the truth?” Both are telling the truth. So, what sort of truths are these? They have different realities, that is to say different reference systems. Please think about this point. Artists, scientists, please think about this. Reflect this in the production of works of art, in forms in poetry, in painting, in music – whatever your specialty is…
* Based on the recordings of a series of speeches given by Metin Bobaroğlu between January and June, 1999, in the Faculty of Fine Arts of Marmara University on “Einstein’s Theory of Objective Relativity”. Translated by Dr. Emre Eren Korkmaz, and revised by the editorial board.