Episode Sixteen – Optical Illusions, Proof of the Validity of the Senses


Optical Illusions and the Validity of the Senses

The senses have no power of distortion, what they observe is real.

Optical illusions do not validate the claim that the senses can deceive us. Optical illusions are the senses making valid observations.

What is an optical illusion? It is not the senses distorting reality. It is simply the mind misinterpreting the true nature of something as a result of sensory data. We shall return to this misrepresentation in a little bit. For now, let us focus on the more physical aspect.

For instance, you observe that a straw seems to bend in a glass of water.  It is not because your eyes deceive you. It is because your eyes observe the fact that the surface of the water refracts light rays so that the straw seems bent.

Pencil bent in water.
Not a straw, but it still appears to bend in water. Just as a straw would.

This does not mean that your senses are deceiving you.  However, it does mean that your senses are acting consistently with the fact that water refracts light.

The fact that you experience the sensations of a straw bent by water reveals the actual nature of light interacting with a straw in water.  You experience the sensations of a bent straw because light rays are being refracted by water.

There is no alternative, given that your eyes cannot correct for this bending of light rays. To observe otherwise would be for your eyes to defy the nature of light and water and to contradict their own nature.

The fact that you observe optical illusions necessitates that your mind be able to interpret what you see as an optical illusion.  You should recognize that you must apply logic to interpret what you see correctly.  You can then recognize what you would see if the optical illusion did not exist.

You may then identify that the nature of the object you are observing is not contradicted by the optical illusion.  You should be able to conceptualize around the illusion. And then identify that although you experience the sensations of a bent straw, the straw is not bent.  The context in which you observe it simply necessities that you experience the sensations of a bent straw.

Optical illusions demonstrate that light will interact with certain entities in a certain way. And that your optical organs are not capable of escaping this fact.

They take in light as it is and operate in such a way as to produce sensory data.  It just so happens that some observed phenomena require more intellectual analysis before they can be properly understood.

So, if you see that a straw appears to bend in water, the answer is not to claim that your senses deceive you. The answer is to recognize that your senses can only operate based on what is.  What you see is the result of how light interacts with the surroundings and with your senses.

You must identify the facts which your senses provide evidence of, using your rational mind.  If a straw seems to bend in water, you should discover that light is refracted by water.

This is a fact which the apparent bending of the straw can help to identify.  Then you can identify that the optical illusion is telling us something about reality which is not directly observable.

When presented with an optical illusion, the rational approach is to not to assert distortion of reality but to understand the nature of the entities involved, to be able to recognize it as an illusion.

You know that water does not bend straws. You can test this using touch for instance.

So, the proper attitude is only that the optical illusion provides a different view on reality then you might expect.

One that requires you to step back and think about what you see.  This allows you to see that what you see is what is, it is just that it might not be immediately obvious why you see it that way.

So it is with all optical illusions. They are the senses demonstrating once more that they are valid and that what you observe agrees with the facts of reality.

However, with the careful application of logic, you can “see past the illusion”, by which I mean that you can understand the nature of what you are observing.

The Thinker.
The Thinker sees past illusions. Be like the Thinker.

Far from invaliding the senses, optical illusions demonstrate that the senses have no power of distortion and that the senses are valid.

They also demonstrate that the understanding of reality is not automatic. Although we are seeing reality as it is, we must understand the nature of what we are observing and be able to abstract away the illusion if we want to understand WHY we see what we do!

That is all we have to say on optical illusions for now. I hope you found that interesting. If you have any further questions, please leave a comment or contact us via email or social media.

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