Another attempt at expressing the “brainarium” world

November 10, 2009

I think now of my friend’s difficulty in understanding the concept of the “brainarium.” He and I and all people will acknowledge as almost trite that the tree that is in our actual sight is not a tree but merely the image of the tree and is caused by the real tree as it affects our eye. So there is a real tree out there in space and time and we can all point to it and describe it, but the tree which is actually in consciousness is merely this image. No big news. We all know this and do not mention it. The image of the tree in our eye gets larger and smaller per the distance, but the real tree does not change and remains always the same. So: there is a real tree out there in space and time and my friend and I can look at that same physical tree and acquire two slightly different “takes” or perspectives/intuitions in our two brainariums. Again: no big news to anyone.

Now here my friend, as an unlettered person with respect to Kant, has little interest in any further discussion of this, because it is so obvious that it does not need to be mentioned. Kant on the other hand and for his primary purpose (critiquing the presumptions of pure reason) insists on considering this further.

He would reason about so: since all we are ever given are these objects (or images) in the brainarium,* how is it that we ever come to the notion that there is something else involved, a so-called real tree that does not change, such that what we see are images of this real tree? All we have are the objects of the brainarium, where there is nothing except the image. The answer? obviously we dream this object up ourselves, a thing which is conceived to exist on its own and is not changed in quantity through time. Indeed we had to dream it up, and we validate our presumption in doing this via the recognition of external things, i.e., by the recognition of what science has simply assumed (and rightly so for the purposes of science), namely that what we see is in our eye (actually in the bainarium) and is an image of an external object (external to the brainarium).

* This is not Kant’s term, but was suggested to me in reading Schopenhauer.

The presumption is validated in the recognition of the object, e.g., the tree. Later Kant will show that there is no recognizable object given by pure reason, e.g., immortal soul, free will and God.

What Kant has essentially done here is to recognize at least two entirely different and incompatible views (perspectives/intuitions/Anschauungen) on reality in space: 1. taking the specter/appearance/Erscheiung (image) as a reality just as it appears, e.g., actually getting smaller physically at a distance, or 2. taking the appearances as merely the representation of real things, i.e., images of the those things or else just appearances, like the illusive rainbow in the rain (which cannot even count as an image*).

* Technically the rainbow is not an image but is the real and entire thing. To be an image there would have to be a bow literally out in the distant rain such then that the rainbow in our eye would be the appearance of that.

But then Kant starts getting difficult. He realizes that since we see things in a real time and space, but which is entirely within the brainarium, we have to admit that the time and space in which all is spied is entirely within us and merely our take on or view of things, i.e., that things are here and there and now and then. And so what we have done is to dream up a real world and a real time and space such that what we experience in the brainarium is merely a perspective within that real time and space which contain the real things on their own, e.g., the real tree. This is the way we consider specters/appearances within our respective brainariums: I see the tree there and the bush here. I really do see them, but always only within the brainarium. And so we let our actual brainarium world represent this real world in real space and time to us; again so that what we experience is a perspective of that real world in real space and time.

Thus the object of experience we dream up, e.g., the tree, is really there in time and space and in that there is no illusion.* But how to conceive of these two really existing non-things called space and time (that we have simply dreamed up to make experience possible**) is very difficult. For they must be thought of as two infinite nothings which must exist in order for anything whatsoever to be able to exist. Two infinite nothings which are necessary. That is very difficult to understand.

* Illusion only arises when we take the appearance or image as a real thing on its own, e.g., physically getting smaller at a distance.

** When I open my eyes and see the tree, I see it in time and space, all of which is within the confines of the brainarium. I dream up a real time and real space to hold the real tree, and utilize that dreamed up reality to correspond to the space and time and tree in the brainarium so that the tree I see is not considered as a real thing on its own (an illusion), but only as an image of that real thing. In brief: I imagine a space and time independent of my looking within the brainarium, and it is that space and that time that I consider to be real.

So we are to continue with experience and science and common speech and speak of a real tree which corresponds to the apperance or image in my eye. That’s the great reality of our existence, the foundation for experience. But when we wish to speak about the existence of actual things in this real time and space we need to keep in mind that the real space, etc., are merely called real for the sake of science and experience and communications, and what really be apart from the brainarium, we have no earthly idea.

Let’s put it together: We dream up an object called the real tree in order to recognize our vision and other impressions as a specter or image of that tree. We rightly assume that this real tree exists in time and space whether we are looking or not. We build all experience and science on this assumption and it is validated in our very distinction of the tree and the image of the tree (in the eye or on a piece of photo paper). So we dream it all up but then are able to justify and validate it by recognizing that the specter/appearance is the image of the tree and not a real tree on its own.

But we are apt to fall into trouble if later in consideration of pure reason itself we forget to distinguish the “real tree” of science and experience from the thing on its own; and they can be very confusing. In other words when I consider the thing on its own, I am negating all that the brainarium suggests to me and am trying to imagine the unimaginable, i.e., a real thing on its own without any reference to human perception and sighting.* And then we could enter the arena of creative imagination and conceive of Matrix worlds and whatnot, or worlds of spirits or worlds of the undesirable and inexpressive. Let’s be satisfied, Kant would have it, to be fortunate in the advances of the sciences, and not be concerned in experience about things on their own except as that is understood as the real object out in “real” space and time, the real tree I am pointing to now. What things may be on their own independently of human sighting is inexpressible, and of no interest to science.

* Here we might think of what something looks like when it is not being looked at, or what something sounds like when no one is listening.

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