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On the Inside, Looking Out

Perspective on perspective taking

We are forever on the inside looking out. This is one of the first things impressed upon us by the likes of Stephen Hawkins (amongst others) is that we are doing science on the universe from within the thing we are studying, reviewing a brief history of time where time can never have a beginning or an end.

A God’s-eye-view is truly a supernatural perspective. Where would you stand if you were outside all existence?

This can be difficult to get used to. We want to look all around a thing, get under the hood, kick the tires. When we imagine the universe, we think of it as an edge-on light cone or the flattened globe of the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation, but this is only our imagined view, a conjecture our amazing mind can make, knowing the science, and creating a visual where no light exists, an image only ever to be appreciated by the mind’s eye.

Even this mind’s eye perception is inside looking out at a formless, shapeshifting, multimedia consciousness. Experience in all its narrative and sensory forms is made of a consciousness unique for each subject, a non-dual strange loop that is the wellspring of meaning and morality. While offering only the most subtle signals on the nature of our enclosure: impervious to deception, timeless, with a depth of feeling; it is the only reality we’ll ever know.

Paradox and mystery arise as we realize that our imagination (is the only thing that) can take us to the edge of the expanding universe, but that we will never see even the common reality of our own kitchen outside our mind. This reality is not limited—far from it—it is just different from our ordinary conception of it. Upon introspection, we know it’s our mind’s eye that looks out, that constructs reality from the things-in-themselves that are out there.

But we can do much more than just recapitulate reality—we can overlay it with our imagination and invention. The characters and plot in a good novel overlays reality in an effervescent way. Our science instantiated in VR creates worlds that we can never travel to and narratives that make us appreciate one another from inside, looking out of another point of view. We come together and create a more fulfilling world this way.


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