The Brain's Images:
Reflecting and Creating Human Understanding

"One's conduct of inquiry is largely shaped by one's answer to the question of whether there must always be a single admissable intepretation. ... Singularism is the view that that which is interpreted should always answer to one and only one ideally admissable interpretation. ... In contrast, multiplism is the view that that which is interpreted need not always answer to one and only one fully congruent ideally admissable interpretation.


Must there be a single right interpretation for such cultural entities as works of art, literature, music, and other cultural phenomena? Can opposing interpretations be jointly defended?"

The Answer, for science ("material entities") ...

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there, does it make a sound?

Nope ... it makes (probably) movements of air molecules. Whether there is a sound, and, more importantly, what sound it is, is entirely a function of whether there is a brain there to detect/interpret those movements, and, more importantly, of which particular brain it is.

(see Biology 202, 29 March 2001 for similar argument about color)

OR ... to put it differently:

Physical concepts are free creations of the human mind, and are not, however it may seem, uniquely determined by the external world. In our endeavour to understand reality we are somewhat like a man trying to understand the mechanism of aclosed watch ... If he is ingenious he may form some picture of a mechanism which could be responsible for all the things he observes, but he may never be quite sure his picture is the only one which could explain his observations ...

Albert Einstein and Leopold Infeld, The Evolution of Physics, 1938