The View From In Here

When I’m not here are you?

When I’m not present, does the world continue?  Or, do things take form and function only at my pleasure?  If I’m not there, does the Amazon plunge over cliffs and glide past cut-banks, does a Raven rasp in a Sitka spruce, does a tornado rip across Oklahoma City, do waves kiss Waikiki, does Sun bake the Gobi Desert?  Do people haggle, laugh, make love, and kill in my absence?  When I sleep, does the Universe exist?

The classic conundrum: If a Douglas Fir falls in the Mt Hood National Forest and I’m not there to hear, does it make a sound?  The pragmatic answer: A falling tree vibrates air molecules, impacting tympanic membranes in my ear, sending electrical nerve impulses to the auditory part of my brain, I “hear”!  The larger question: Do the tree, the Mt Hood National Forest, the Cascade Mountains, North America, Earth, Sun, Moon, the Universe exist when I don’t see and hear?  Or is it all a potential, waiting to collapse as sound and shape at my pleasure?

In physicist Dr. Fred Allen Wolfe’s Taking The Quantum Leap, I learned my grandiose notion has philosophic and scientific support.  It even has a name, “Solipsism.”  The hypothesis that I can only know my experience.  Nothing “outside” may be assumed as “real.”     

Of course, folks far smarter than I have long since recognized the central and crucial role of an “observer” in what is observed.  Robert C. Crease and Charles C. Mann’s The Second Creation; Albert Einstein’s Relativity, “The Special and General Theory.  A clear explanation that anyone can understand”; Paul Cavies and John Gribbin’s The Matter Myth; and Stephen W. Hawking’s A Brief History of Time From the Big Bang to Black Holes seem to point in a Solipsist direction.  Quarks, bugs, trees, cities, continents, Earth, Sun, and Supernova, even you my friend, materialize at my discretion!  I create Reality!