Behold the Humble Cube…
A central problem in quantum physics is the philosophical debate between realism and idealism. In the case for realism, it has been argued that if we reject realism — that is, an absolute perspective — knowing the truth becomes impossible. This argument is based on the idea that, independent of our beliefs, there is a structured reality which serves as the norm against which statements can be known as “true” or “false.” On the other hand, the argument for idealism is based on the premise that consciousness and the constitution of reality cannot be viewed as separate because observation (which implies consciousness) — and hence the observation of reality — is wholly subjective. This is not to necessarily imply that reality is an illusion of consciousness (a la Berkeley), but that consciousness is an intrinsic part of reality.
In quantum theory, reality is observer dependant: There can be no “knowing” beyond that which is evident to the observer. Special relativity informs us that objects in space are altered by the conditions of observation and perspective, and that time passes at different speeds for observers traveling at different speeds (identical clocks carried by observers traveling at different speeds would each record different times, and none would be more correct than the others). The uncertainty principle infers that the methods and conditions of observation determine what we see. The Copenhagen Interpretation, Bell’s theorem and the Aspect experiments all correlate to a holistic, Platonic conception of reality.
The assumption that reality is objective is not a scientific necessity, but a bias born of the seventeenth-century dualism which separated physics and philosophy. Empirical evidence clearly supports idealism. As we move toward a broader understanding of the role of perspective in science, the paradox of perceptual relativity may well become the new paradigm.