I started writing this post in an epiphany where I imagined that our senses betray us and that what we perceive is a stream of consciousness and had this ironic meta realization that I had an urge to look things up. This isn’t objective knowledge, so what is?
As beings with limited sensory capabilities and limited imagination and limited intellect (and I posit this despite what some people would like you to believe about the supposedly limitless and boundless nature of the human imagination or intellect), we are destined to have approximate theories as best. Evolution continues its long march and allows us to fall behind the landscape – as evolution itself falls behind the landscape and is manifested in it itself, somehow – and the biospheres where we exist as a species. We shape the landscape and then fall behind because we’re too slow or too self-encumbered a species and inevitably reshape again to the extent we can. We are not the humans our ancestors were, and our kids may most likely change and evolve differently and in unpredictable ways compared to the changes our parents underwent.
The grand theories of the universe that past generations had were based on the observations and imagination of past generations, and the theories we have now are arguably better, but how much better? We don’t have a way of measuring the effectiveness of theories (perhaps we do and perhaps I’m ignorant) but perhaps we can say that we have better ways to make observations. But do we have better ways to imagine? I believe so, but I wonder if these are wholly better ways. It is not unlikely or impossible that the feats of imagination we’re ordinarily capable of these days were prevalent in some long lost society of the past. However, it seems at times as though there is some very deep purpose for the human race’s imagination – but perhaps this is a delusional hope I have, since we’re capable now of being more imaginative about how we perceive and / or interpret something when compared to a few generations ago.
Which brings me to the question I had originally – how objective is our knowledge, compared to the knowledge of those who came before us? How objective can we get indeed, given the limitations of our senses and the limitations of our instruments? It is hard to say, and only fools would claim certainty, because what seems like an elegant theory today may someday be the stumbling block of some romantic thinker’s imagination as seen by someone in our society’s future who may know enough to entirely discredit or discount certain trees of our collective philosophies. Perhaps we may realize in time that there are certain things that are unknowable – and perhaps this list of unknowable things will be narrower than they are now. And then, perhaps, someday, some species that evolved from us, in some unrecognizable landscape, may develop the tools and the imagination to observe everything so that at least for one moment, they have accomplished what we think is unthinkable – peering into the panorama of our cosmos and of existence with what we may called an infinite number of infinitesimally sized eye in all possible directions. Perhaps they may realize afterwards even that may not reveal everything.