If A Tree Fell In A Forrest With No One Around To Hear It, It Would Still Make A Sound
Debate Rounds (3)
No need to define anything else.
I'm opening this back up since there was some confusion in my last attempt. This is meant to be short and fun, but I also want it to be a real debate because it is an interesting metaphysical question. You can accept and then I'll get right into it.
If there were no sentient beings in the surrounding areas to perceive to sound waves then they simply would not exist. In order for something to exist they have to be perceived.
Sorry if I don't make sense. I'm new to this.
So let's examine a hypothetical case. Suppose a tree falls in a forrest and no one is around to hear it. But the vibrations it made are somehow trapped in a pocket of air or a tree trunk, vibrating and bouncing around endlessly. (I'm aware this is not practical as the vibrations would be absorbed by the tree, but it is a logical possibility and is not impossible.) A few days pass. Then a person walking through the woods stumbles into that air pocket and hears the sound of the tree falling because those vibrations finally end up in someone's ear. That would mean he heard the vibrations of the tree that it made when it fell over BEFORE anyone was around to hear it.
The vibrations he is perceiving at this time are the same ones the tree made when it fell. Therefore, given what I said in the first paragraph, the vibrations he heard are numerically identical to the vibrations made by the tree when it fell. So to say, "It made a sound when he heard it, but not when it fell" would be to violate the law of identity - because what he heard and the vibrations produced when the tree fell are logically identical things. They went through no change between the time the tree fell and the time at which the person heard it. So to say, "It didn't make a sound, it made a vibration" would be to deny the law of identity. The sound IS the vibration, and whether anyone is around to perceive it is secondary.
You might say this example seems absurd. But all I've done is explicate the slight time delay between a tree falling and creating vibrations and us hearing it if we're standing 100 yards away. The vibrations must travel through air before they reach our ears. But it's incoherent to say that the tree didn't make a sound until the vibrations reached our ears - of course it did (we know because we hear it). In my example this concept is exaggerated but still applies in the same way. The vibrations made at time T are the same vibrations traveling at time T1, and X hears the vibration at T1, he is hearing the vibrations made at T before anyone could perceive them. But of course, they are the same vibrations, having gone through no change between T and T1.
Therefore to maintain that a tree wouldn't make a sound just because no one heard it would be to say that the sound we hear and and the vibrations made are different things - but they are not. The tree had to make a sound when it fell in order for the sound and the vibrations to be logically identical, which they are by definition. Interpretations of those vibrations and the vibrations themselves aren't two different properties of sound - the former exists independently of sound.
And this is no different than something like light. Light is a particle or wave emitted by something - let's say a star in this case. But many stars are far enough away that it takes years (or millennia) for the light to reach our eyes. (In fact, it takes 8 minutes for light from the sun to reach us.) But no one would say, "If a star burned and no one was around to see it, would it make light?" Of course it would. And we know this because some stars that we now see began emitting light before life on earth existed. Does that mean it was not light until human beings or animals came to be? How could that be the case if the same light particles that we see are the ones that left the star before we could see them? For their identity to persist over time, which it does, it has to be the same light. The same holds true for sound.
In conclusion, we've seen good evidence that the vibration a tree makes when it falls and the sound we hear are numerically identical. Therefore to say a tree would not make a sound if no one were around to hear it - just a vibration - would be to suggest that sound and vibrations exist independently, as distinct things - but they do not. Therefore in order to remain logically consistent and to adhere to the definition of "sound," we must conclude that when a tree falls and no one is around to hear it, it still makes a sound. Thank you.
Con argues that these vibrations would not exist if no one was around to perceive them. But this is absurd. If this is the case, con must agree that the vibrations a tree makes do not exist before/until they reach a person's ear if a tree falls a hundred yards away from a person and there's a slight time delay in the vibrations making it into the person's ear. Con must also agree that the light from stars that began traveling before human beings existed did not exist until there was someone to perceive them. But this is to assert something that is totally unsupported and, indeed, contradicted by science. We know the distance of e.g. the Andromeda Galaxy from our own - it's a little over 2 million light years. If the light it emitted did not exist before we perceived it, it would literally have had to spring into being at the exact moment that someone first observed it. But this is manifestly absurd.
The same would hold true for the sound a tree makes. Unless con wants to agree that the vibrations a tree makes when it falls and the sound we hear and numerically non-identical and literally spring into existence when someone is around to perceive them, he must concede my position. But since that view denies what we currently understand about the fundamental properties of light and sound as given to us by science, con will have quite a case to make.
I'll use another analogy to help make this clear. Some people who are colorblind cannot see the color red. By con's logic, the color red literally does not exist for these people, but it exists for me. But surely the color red (that is, the wavelengths of light that we perceive as red) either exist or they do not. Con has no grounds to tell me that red does not exist to me, because I perceive it and I know it does. And just because a colorblind person does not perceive it, that does not entail that it therefore does not exist.
I'll reiterate my argument. The vibrations a tree makes when it falls are logically identical to the sounds we hear when we perceive those vibrations. Thus, when a tree falls in a forrest, it makes a sound, whether anyone is around to see it or not. Con has done nothing to refute this point except to take an extraordinarily controversial metaphysical stance, namely things do not exist outside of perception, but he has provided no evidence for this. Therefore my argument still stands.
Look up the double slit experiment.
The vibrations a tree may or may not make when falling with nothing aground is not sound. The ear of a sentient being is what associates those vibrations with sound, there for creating the sound.
No votes have been placed for this debate.
You are not eligible to vote on this debate
This debate has been configured to only allow voters who meet the requirements set by the debaters. This debate either has an Elo score requirement or is to be voted on by a select panel of judges.