Thursday, June 23, 2011

Photography, Philosophy and a Question

The other day I was looking out from my back deck and I saw this image and took a photo of it. This particular post may be a bit deep, but it might help you think about things in a different light. I ask that you read it with an open mind, respond if you would like, but try to learn something. I know I did.



After taking this photo I recalled a question that caused me to think a bit, and that question is:


"If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" According to Wikipedia this “is a philosophical riddle that raises questions regarding observation and knowledge of reality.”


Years ago I heard this same question and at that time I really did not put much thought into it. For some reason, when I took this picture this question had come to mind again, and for some reason I took time to think about it a bit more.


So I did a Google search and found “In June 1883 in the magazine The Chautauquan, posed this question, "If a tree were to fall on an island where there were no human beings would there be any sound?" They then went on to answer the query with, "No. Sound is the sensation excited in the ear when the air or other medium is set in motion." This seems to imply that the question is posed not from a philosophical viewpoint, but from a purely scientific one.” - Wikipedia 


Giving some thought to this I feel if this is the case then it seems to me that there is no regard or consideration for any other living creatures. Most birds, animals, reptiles, insects and fish have a sense of hearing, this sense is not limited to the human species. In my mind, the answer to the question posed by The Chautauquan is: "there would not be a sound to a human being!" 


The magazine Scientific American corroborated the technical aspect of this question, while leaving out the philosophic side, a year later when they asked the question slightly reworded, "If a tree were to fall on an uninhabited island, would there be any sound?" And gave a more technical answer, "Sound is vibration, transmitted to our senses through the mechanism of the ear, and recognized as sound only at our nerve centers. The falling of the tree or any other disturbance will produce vibration of the air. If there be no ears to hear, there will be no sound." - Wikipedia 


Again, if this is the case then it seems to me that there is no regard or consideration for any other living creatures. Like I stated before, most birds, animals, reptiles, insects and fish have a sense of hearing, this sense is not limited to the human species. In my mind, the answer  to the question posed by Scientific American is: "there would not be a sound to any non-residents!" 


So what are some facts about sound and hearing:
1) When a tree falls a sound is made.
2) The absence of hearing does not prevent sound from existing.
3) The only time sound could not exist to us is if the sense of hearing did not exist.
4) Humanly fabricated audio detection and recording devices capture sound in remote locations.


Here is a biblical twist to the subject. There are many references in the Bible that refer to heavenly sounds and auditory communications. With that in mind, it appears that there is the existence of a spiritual sense of hearing. Some scientists might dismiss this notion since they may not have a test to prove the possibility.


In regards to “Proving Possibilities,” I have been to the Isle of Capri twice in my life and to this day I have no personal validation that it is an island. I did not walk around the entire island myself to verify the information provided to me on a map. But I think we could all agree it is an island. Just because I did not prove it to myself does not reject the fact.


Now, back to the photograph and a different question involving another of our senses.



If the sun is shining on a forest and no one is around to see it, is there sunlight on the forest? I feel the answer to this question is quite obvious.


I feel that the question "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" is not a philosophical question at all. I think it falls more into the riddle category and there are answers to the question. With another example I might be able to make the tree falling question a bit more philosophical. 


I once heard a story about a philosophy professor who gave a one question final exam. If the story is true or not I do not know, but it’s a good story.


The class was seated and ready for the exam when the professor picked up his chair, set it on his desk and wrote on the board: “Using everything we have learned this semester, prove that this chair does not exist.”


The only student who got an "A" had the shortest answer and was the first student to complete the exam.


The student answered: “What chair?” on his paper and turned it in.


If you want to get philosophical about the question "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" You might respond like this, "What tree?” Or, "Did it scare any chirping birds?"


The photo used in this article is not to be considered a good photo. At first glance many may consider this photo not worthy of anything and they may be right in their point of view. But look at how much it did to my thinking. Is there any value in that? My use of photography to take this photo assisted me with a thought regarding a topic in philosophy. It helped me put rational thoughts around a topic. Philosophy can help us answer questions, it can also generate new questions.


We are brought into this world as babies with limited thought and vocabulary, we grow, learn and understand more and more as we age. Our philosophy of various topics in life may remain constant or they may change based on our knowledge, information and experience in life. If our philosophy did not change over time the world could still be considered flat. With what we learn in life we can obtain a greater wisdom and understanding of the world and lives of others around us. We can move ourselves to open up our minds and hearts to see, feel, taste, touch, think, create and hear more both physically and spiritually. If we choose to do so, in a good and righteous manner, we may lead ourselves to live better lives.


You can think about it.


Enjoy Life, Take Pictures!
TMS Photography


P.S. 
“Sometimes photography can distort reality, or is the photo the reality our eyes distort?” 
- Bill Thom


Wikipedia Reference Link
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/If_a_tree_falls_in_a_forest



2 comments:

  1. Nice post! Have heard a rather humourous version of your question some time ago that gave me a chuckle... "If a lumberjack yells 'Timber!' in the forest and there's no one around to hear it, does the guy it lands on make a sound?" lol

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  2. If a golfer yells "Fore!" and there's no one else on the course... Just kidding. Great post!

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