JUN 06, 2020 8:34 PM PDT

The Philosophy Lab: Can We See the World Objectively?

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

Can we see the world objectively?

The long-standing philosophical question was recently answered by Johns Hopkins University researchers. Using 1) methods from cognitive science 2) a series of novel computer graphic experiments 3) and laser-cut "coins—scientists found that it’s almost impossible to separate an objects true identity from someone’s own perspective of it.

What exactly is objectivity? Watch this video below to learn more:

"This question about the influence of one's own perspective on perception is one philosophers have been discussing for centuries," said senior author Chaz Firestone, an assistant professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences and Director of the Hopkins Perception & Mind Laboratory. "It was really exciting for us to take an experimental approach to this question."

The unique combination of the interdisciplinary studies brought a "philosophy experiment" at the bench.

Findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences making the answer to the objectivity questions a flat ‘no’.

"Objects are stamped with our perspective. Our subjective approach to the world stays with us," says lead author Jorge Morales, a post-doctoral fellow. "Even when we try to perceive the world the way it really is, we can't completely discard our perspective."

"This is a project that really surprised us -- we expected 'objectivity' to totally overwhelm any influence of the subject's perspective," said Firestone. "This is a nice example of how ideas from philosophy can influence the science of the mind and brain."

Source: Science Daily

About the Author
  • Nouran is a scientist, educator, and life-long learner with a passion for making science more communicable. When not busy in the lab isolating blood macrophages, she enjoys writing on various STEM topics.
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