Describing human existence in terms of Perception Theory (Perception Is Everything, [Jan., 2016]; Perception Theory (Perception Is Everything) — Three Applications, [Feb., 2016]; and Perception Theory: Adventures in Ontology — Rock, Dog, Freedom, & God, [March, 2016]) demonstrates that all perceptions, concepts, ideas, and theories are necessarily non-veridical, due to the subjective trap. Logically, it is possible no product of the human subjective mind is faithful to the veridical, “real world,” empirical data bombarding the human senses; it is discomforting, to say the least, considering the possibility that our collective perceptions over time (our existence) have little or no bearing upon an objective, external-to-our-mind, universe “out there” which we presume and assume to exist. (An in-depth review of the veridical/non-veridical dichotomy can be found in At Last, a Probable Jesus, [August, 2015].) The source of this discomfort is the ontological baseline assumption that we are star-stuff in self-contemplation (Perception Is Everything, [Jan., 2016]), for the more disengaged our non-veridical perceptions are from the raw data upon which they are based, the more removed we are from our physical building blocks (star-stuff), from the very veridical universe of which we are a constituent part. In other words, the less we are “at one” with the universe — the less we see ourselves objectively, as we really are.
I am happy to say that Perception Theory uses the cultural history of our species to avoid the non-veridical discomfort and possible despair of disengagement from the veridical universe, thanks to the help of two recent works by historian Yuval Noah Harari, namely Sapiens, A Brief History of Humankind (2011, ISBN 9780099590088, Vintage, London) and Homo Deus, A Brief History of Tomorrow (2015, ISBN 9781784703936, Vintage, London).
It was encouraging to read that Harari, though doing history, was using a human ontology parallel to that of Perception Theory, especially since I had formulated Perception Theory before I had read Harari. That is, he understands the creative power of the human imagination, the existential, subjective part of human existence as well as the power that same creativity can have on the empirical, objective “real” world of science. He does not deny the benefits to humanity given us by non-veridical scientific theories, but he understands they cannot be purely objective, can be themselves veridical. What I call the non-veridical perceptions, concepts, ideas, and theories of our imagination Harari calls “imagined orders,” a term I will use henceforth for brevity. One class of imagined orders we call “religions” (Perception Theory: Adventures in Ontology — Rock, Dog, Freedom, & God, [March, 2016]; I Believe!, [Oct., 2016]; Hope and Faith, [Jan., 2017]; and Prayer, [Feb., 2017]), with their “toxic theologies.” Another class would be the imagined orders we call “scientific theories,” with their history of human-altering and planet-altering effects. Clearly, essentially any well-developed concept in our minds could be call an imagined order. For example, political theories, economic theories, and ethical theories.
Cultural history has given our species a direction, a clue for our imagined orders. Ask what imagined orders have vaulted us into the world-wide collective of the “modern world,” in which we are benefactors of healthier, longer lifespans, of being relatively free, for the first time, of large-scale famine, plague and war, and of emerging with a consensus idea of the best political, economic, and ethical directions to pursue. The answers have come in the survival of the political, economic, and ethical catastrophes of the 20th century: combinations of imagined orders of applied scientific theories, of non-theological, humanistic religions, of humanistic ethics that reach beyond our own species to other species, of practical capitalistic economies mitigated by tried and true socialist programs like universal health care, universal suffrage, universal, free public education, and care for the elderly, of political cooperatives based upon world trade and free from nationalism and delusions of empire, and of educational imaginative orders based upon how minds actually learn. In other words, history has witnessed our blindly “stumbling” upon imagined orders that “work” for all of us because those orders take into account the natural more than the imagined supernatural, fanciful, or ill-conceived; we now know more imagined orders that “fit” the universe of which we are a part than ever before.
Consequently, I, as a scientist, am, perhaps, more optimistic about our future than the historian Harari. It seems straightforward to me that our cultural history mandates we in future make our imagined orders as veridical as we possibly can, like great scientific theories like gravity, quantum mechanics, kinetic theory of matter, chemistry, biochemistry, evolution, and plate tectonics. That is, make all imagined orders, scientific or not, as veridical as possible; in the vein of KISS!, “keep it simple, stupid!”, AVAPS!, “as veridical as possible!”
Here in the 21st century, we know what past mistakes to avoid repeating. Don’t make the liberal mistake of making equality more important than freedom and brotherhood. Don’t make the conservative mistakes that wealth cannot be created, that there are only zero-sum economies, that some must gain at the expense of others. Don’t confuse education with indoctrination. Don’t base truth upon authority. Don’t create religions and political theories of intolerance; there are better imagined orders than religions, or nations, or empires. There are better imagined orders than liberal humanism, social humanism, and scientific humanism (Homo Deus).
With the help of Harari, it is now possible to apply Perception Theory toward better imagined orders for all of us.
P.S. Thinking toward better imagined orders need not be more complicated than asking the question “What the world needs now is __.” The Beatles have suggested all you need is love, and that means the human capacity to love ourselves, others, and everything outside ourselves needs to be borne in mind. Dionne Warwick sang it more directly with her 1966 hit “What the World Needs Now Is Love.” What do all of us love? Lots of things, sure, but the things that have grown to benefit everyone, like the inspiring contributions of the humanities and the world-altering improvements to our living on this planet of the sciences, engineering, and medicine seem to beckon our ardor. Let me plant the seed of: what the world needs now is more scientists, engineers, doctors, environmentalists, social workers, care takers, historians, and philosophers.
Not long ago I attended a Southern Baptist church in which my wife grew up and in which we were married. At the end of the service a 10th grade girl made public her decision to become a missionary instead of her previous dream of becoming a marine biologist. My heart sank. “The world needs more marine biologists, not more missionaries!” I said to myself.