Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Do Shadows Exist?

It may seem at first ridiculous to the casual reader to question the existence of something as commonplace as a shadow.  However, to a critical thinker, for somebody who understands the importance of rational scientific rigor, this poses a fascinating topic.  The foundations of reason draw a distinct line between concepts and objects, but some things like shadows tend to blur that line for some individuals. I hope to help distinguish the two fundamental categories in this by using shadows as an example.

So first, let us define. What do we mean specifically when we say "Something exists"? Commonly we understand that the moon, the sun, the earth, you, me, ect. all exist. If you run into a brick wall that's because it exists, rather than it does not exist.  So what do we mean by that crucial term, exist? We mean specifically that is a shape (i.e. an object, entity, thing) with location.  That is why we break our nose when we run into it, and why it casts a shadow. In other words, the wall exists because it is physically present, an object with location. This definition has been thoroughly justified in several articles across the internet. See fatfist.hubpages.com, youstupidrelativist.com, or monkeminds.hubpages.com

Under this strict, consistent and rational definition, does a shadow exist? Let us examine below.


Clearly, as explicated above, the shadow is a concept involving at least three objects in relation to one another. Attempting to isolate the shadow as an object in and of itself results in a simple object. Without a relationship, we have no shadow.  Objects must stand with shapes of their own, without embodying any tacit relationship. Since the shadow embodies a relationship and has no physical presence, it does not meet the definition of existence.  Shadows do not exist. That's not to say that things don't cast shadows. We just have to understand that they are a trick of our visual processing, similar to rainbows or other electromagnetic phenomena. A shadow must be explained as a relationship between existing objects. The shadow itself does not exist.

Now, such an argument will seem ridiculous to a naive thinker, but this stands as a rational, consistent definition. Shadows are concepts and cannot exist.

1 comment:

  1. Shadows are a lack of something, not a presence of anything. They are purely optical.