Horizon of Perception

Training Education Learning Development

Faith, Rational Beings and the Horizon of Perception

Rationality and Certainty

  • As Rational Beings we have the need to base our decisions on items and concepts which are absolute and certain. Things we know
  • Our universe is, beyond the horizons of our perceptions and in many dimensions unknowable: Spatially, sub-atomically or historically it cannot be directly perceived, only inferred or hypothecated. Things we cannot know

"How can we act rationally living in and being made of an unknowable universe?"

The Horizon of Perception

Everything we perceive and experience either as an individual could be said to be our 'Sphere of Experiential Knowledge'. [Knowledge Accretion describes a theory of how our individual and societal spheres of knowledge develop.], Communities or other groups also have a similar spheres.

Going beyond that sphere is a larger 'Sphere of Possible Experiential Knowledge', which contains the universe which we may possibly appreciate and experience. Due to our physical state, location, technology and abilities.

The outer boundary of this larger sphere is the 'Horizon of Perception

Horizon of Perception
A theoretical limit, the boundary of our possible universal experience as it stands in any given moment

Beyond the Horizon of Perception lie things we either 

  1. know nothing about
  2. hypothecate about
  3. believe about (explain as or with components of our faith)

Current examples of which might be:

  • "What was going on 23 billion years ago?"
  • "Is the universe infinitely big today?"
  • "Is there a universal being watching us?"
  • "What will happen next Tuesday?"

Note: The Horizon of perception is not fixed for us, our ability to innovate and develop new technology allows us to continuously expand our Horizon of Perception

What is Faith?

Faith is a belief system which we adopt and crucially; choose to place beyond question even though does not connect fully into our interlocking jigsaw puzzle of experiential knowledge.

Our faith is a fabricated certainty which may or may not be universally correct, but which we treat as such. Religious or spiritual systems, philosophies and theoretical physics can become items of faith in this unquestionable sense. For me to cease to be willing to internally question something makes it item of faith. 

At a low level our faiths provide practical foundations for our everyday 'rational' decisions by introducing a personal certainty where there is no universal certainty.

In addition, for those who care to think about it, faith may serve to divert attention from or circumvent the following dichotomy:

"How can we act rationally living in and being made of an unknowable universe?"

The answer being: '"It's not unknown because this is how it is....." followed by a description of the faith being held.

Embracing the Dichotomy

One way to come to terms with this dichotomy is to recognize and embrace it:

"I am rational and self determining within the horizon of my perceptions. I recognize that beyond this horizon there is uncertainty and this uncertainty does not impact the rational choices which I make."

A specific faith is entirely optional, personally I do not need to construct or embrace a faith in order to be a rational being, I can simply embrace the obvious: I cannot know everything.

A Course of Action

Regarding the faiths, hypotheses and belief systems of what is beyond the Horizon of Perception, it seems acceptable to form and hold any imaginable idea as potentially true. However surprising such ideas may sound to another individual, concerned only with what is currently unknown. They can neither be proven or disproved and so serve as great topics of conversation in the pub or on long walks.

The rational person choosing to hold on to such items of faith must 

  1. Acknowledge that such ideas are purely intellectual constructions, therefore cannot (honestly) be used as a basis for rational decisions
  2. Remember that the advancing Horizon of Perception may grow to include the knowledge covered by the faith so you may either:
    1. Say I told you so! 
    2. Hope no-one remembers what you said

In the mean time, remember that the Horizon of Perception is NOT static so beware of narrow-mindedness, for without the constant fires of creative thought burning at the Horizon of Perception the progress of humanity would fade into darkness. 

Strain against the Horizon of Perception and advance further into the darkness of faith and theory.  Not in the vain attempt to vanquish uncertainty, but with the noble cause of extending our Sphere of Experiential Knowledge for our children. The greater its unexplored surface becomes, the more fabulous the opportunities that await them.



Copyright 1970-2003, Stuart Edward Jones