Friday, September 28, 2012

Philosophic Question

In general I try to stay away from what I call "conventional philosophy." I don't think anything you can use to help you through life is going to be conventional. But there's one conventional question that's had me thinking for a few years, and it's this: if there's a sound that nobody hears, is it still a sound or is it a mere noise?

Well, my gut feeling has been yes, of course it's still a sound. I couldn't really explain why I thought that. I had a few ideas - for example, is the mere presence of humans enough to change what is? Humanity may be the crown of creation, but we're not powerful enough to change the truth. Anyway, long story short, I found an idea in a poem by Bryant, the Father of American Poetry. He wrote one poem called The Yellow Violet. One thing he says to this violet is that even if he is the only one to see it - even if no one ever sees it - it's still beautiful. So then - is a sound no one hears still a sound? Is beauty no one sees still beauty?

Is honor no one perceives still honor? Is courage no one recognizes still courage? Is righteousness no one praised still right? Is the sacrifice made by an unnamed soldier less noteworthy because it was never noted? Does human observation really change the value of something? No. Of course it doesn't.

In closing, if anyone has anything to say on this subject, please make a comment below. I really want to hear what you think.


  1. lol Hopefully this doesn't ruin your poetic arc, but I'm pretty sure I learned in physics that to count as "sound" some sort of receptor needs to be present. If you and no one else and no animals, etc. are there to hear it, then nothing receives the waves and it isn't a sound. If I'm remembering correctly, it's been a couple years since I took physics.

  2. But the physics also says that the motion of the air caused by the falling tree is always there; therefore the sound is always there, even if it's undetected.

    I think there needs to be a deliniation between "the motion of the air disturbed by the tree falling" and "sound is detected in some form - microphone, animal eardrum, etc". One is always there, the other isn't.

    Just my opinion :-)