How do we know what we know?

I took this picture yesterday morning before 6AM. I was having breakfast with a co-worker. There are plenty of cats in the city and before this cat has gotten my attention, other cats have been stealing food from other people sitting near us. This cat walked towards the front door and stopped there. The cat didn’t walk in or anything, just stayed there as if thinking about his/her order. I laughed, took my phone out, and took a picture. Curious, my co-worker looked and shook his head. I asked, “If you were to give a deeper meaning to this sight, what would it be?” He said, “Boundaries”.

The cat knew boundaries, indeed. But it made me wonder, how does the cat know this? Why don’t the other cats know this? Maybe the cat doesn’t know boundaries at all and perhaps, the cat has his/her own reasons for not walking in. Then my perspective switched to humans and the rules we follow and more specifically, what we refer to as “common sense”. Where does common sense come from? Why do we “just” know what we know?

I asked, “If you were to give a deeper meaning to this sight, what would it be?” He said, “Boundaries”.

I read some pretty interesting books related to quantum mechanics. Some of the lines that really stick to me is what Michio Kaku, a theoretical physicist, said about common sense. “Common sense has no place in Quantum Mechanics.” And if I’m any good at remembering the words I read, I recall him saying that we are often trapped in common sense. Ironically, it made perfect sense to me. Complex thoughts occupy my mind every day and I find it hard to explain such thoughts. After reading my thoughts through these books, written and thought by someone else, everything became clear. It’s as if someone said what I’ve always wanted to say and freed me from a dungeon of insanity. Of course, I am sure we’re not the only ones who share the same views on common sense and that gives me relief.

“Common sense has no place in Quantum Mechanics.” – Michio Kaku

How do we “just” know what we know? For me, common sense is built based on a collection of experiences and observations. We don’t have to touch fire to know that it will burn us. We know that fire will burn us because we’ve seen it burn other things or we’ve been taught since we were very young by people who have observed fire burn things. One part of me tries to be all scientific and say that as species who desperately want to survive, we developed a way to detect danger through evolution. Another part of me demands more details. Does that mean that initially, man does not consider anything to be dangerous? Does that mean that humans and other species had to die many times before realizing what would hurt or kill them? Does evolution have some sort of list of dangers that updates for every death and sacrifice? When we’re wiped out of the planet and we start over somehow, all those information are erased, right? So we die all over again.

Another part of me tries to interrupt the heated debate and failed. She said, “No, initially we already perceive some dangers. The list expands as we experience new things.” A sarcastic part of me cuts her off, “Initially? Like what, intelligent design?” The hows turn into whys. Why do we know these things? Why do things work out this way? And why do we somehow agree on the same rules of living? If I would be brave enough to share the wildest thoughts I had on random hours of my daydreams without the fear of looking like a conspiracy theorist or a mad one, I would proudly shout over and over again that reality is a drug. A drug that gives us the delusion of common sense and a familiar world. Reality is a fraud, a fucking lie, and there’s no way out of it. There’s no way to rehabilitate.

I may go as far as saying that each one of us is a computer. We are all connected to a main server called the universe. And just like a computer, we sync for updates or patches made or initiated by the server. We sleep and wake up with new abilities, memories, and strange things that we’ll otherwise classify as “not normal” if we remember how things were the day before. Perhaps, the reason why we feel so out of sync with the world when we haven’t slept for days is because we’re missing some patches or changes in our system that haven’t been applied unless we restart (sleep). Maybe when the configuration is done, we normally wake up feeling refreshed and when we wake up abruptly before the configuration has finished, we feel groggy and out of sync.

But never mind that, that’s just my brain talking.

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How do we know what we know?

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