Hard Beliefs
sciences and historical facts

The status we attribute to our hard beliefs, including our mathematics, scientific knowledge and our historical facts, is dependent on the view we take of what we think of as ‘reality’ and what we think we can say about it. We have noted that, from our qualified postmodern perspective, we cannot adopt either the extreme ‘realist’ (an objective view of the ‘out there’) or the extreme ‘idealist’ (‘it’s all in the mind’) position. The position taken here is quasi-realist or qualified idealist. This understanding is crucial to the thesis advanced here and the following is aimed at further elucidation of this perspective.

Our freedom of thinking is not absolute. We do not approach the universe with a ‘blank sheet’. Kant famously recognised that the architecture of our brain and senses determines the concepts we form; that our concepts of reality do not emerge from a void:

‘the order and regularity in the appearances, which we entitle nature, we ourselves introduce. We could never find them in appearances had not we ourselves, or the nature of our mind, set them there.’
Critique of Pure Reason

We can recognise also that, in the reaction of the brain and senses with the universe, the universe plays some part in the process. Brendan Carter, when considering the question of the apparently fine balance of the fundamental physical parameters of the universe, first enunciated the anthropic principle thus:

‘what we can expect to observe must be restricted by the conditions necessary for our presence as observers.’
The Anthropic Principle