“If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”
This rhetorical question has been a popular topic of debate and conversation for several centuries.
It was first discussed by an Irish philosopher named by George Berkeley around 1710.
Like many things that grow in legend over the years, it’s been rumored that Berkeley himself never posed the actual question.
Instead, it was asked years later in reference to Berkeley’s article discussed above.
Perhaps when the world was bigger and places were more distanced from each other, the question might have been more appropriate.
In this day and age, however, with the world news literally at our fingertips via our various smart gadgets, there is little place to debate it.
The world is a much smaller place and we are aware of anything that happens on the other side in an instance.
We see, hear and read about news around the world that we’re not actually a part of nor is it happening in our vicinity.
The ancient adage also takes away from people like victims of trauma, abuse, harassment and or rape. If someone claims they were raped, is the first question we ask “who saw it?” I would most certainly hope not.
Secondly, methods of verification have increased by ten-fold since the time the quote was first expressed. DNA tests, fingerprints, devices to deduct matter that was there hours before are now all widely available to form an educated guess about something even if a person was not there.
I think it’s time to rethink the basic philosophy of the proverb that if no one saw or heard something, it devalues the significance of it.
Now of course, many have also argued that the quote is not meant to be taken literally but rather, get us to think about what sound and sight means to us. If that is the case, I suppose the quote fulfills its purpose.
But in general, personally, I would advocate the opposite. Speak up against wrongdoings until someone hears you. Don’t let the adage get in the way of justice.
How do you feel about the quote today? Do you agree with it? Disagree? Why or why not? Share your thoughts and experiences by commenting below on our secure servers.
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