...and there's no one there to hear it, does it make a sound? Why or why not?

asked 19 Nov '09, 00:58

Vesuvius's gravatar image


edited 19 Nov '09, 01:14

It depends on the definition of sound. The first two definitions at Dictionary.com would lead to opposing answers to your question.

"1. the sensation produced by stimulation of the organs of hearing by vibrations transmitted through the air or other medium," and

"2. mechanical vibrations transmitted through an elastic medium, traveling in air at a speed of approximately 1087 ft. (331 m) per second at sea level."

In the first case, no, the tree would not make a sound because no organs of hearing were stimulated by the event. In the second case, yes, the falling tree produced mechanical vibrations...etc., so it made a sound.

Beyond these differences by definition, your question is fascinating in the issue it raises about our sensory perceptions. We experience our reality through our senses. There is a world full of waves that never reach our ears, and many which do reach our ears but are not perceived. So there's much more reality around us than we can perceive with our senses. So our experience of reality is limited. The downside of this is that we're missing out on so much that is all around us. The upside is the recognition that in reality creation, we don't have to feel limited to what our senses tell us is possible. Our potential and possibilities are without limit.


answered 20 Nov '09, 06:40

John's gravatar image


Thanks John the first definition backs up everything I wrote, the second definition kind of destroys it though. lol It is very interesting and I agree about our sensory perceptions.

(21 Nov '09, 17:00) Wade Casaldi

The tree did make the sound because it was heard by the insects and animals just not by an human. The insects and animals hear us as we walk through the woods. Sorry, I just had to join in with my two cents if you don't mind. Great question it does make you ponder though.

(23 Nov '09, 08:40) flowingwater

You are right I included animals but left out insects, there is always something around to hear. :-)

(23 Nov '09, 10:41) Wade Casaldi

So if the earth was thrown out of orbit, and lost its atmosphere is the process, so that the earth was enveloped by a vacuum, then would a falling tree make a sound (all creatures would be dead and there would be no elastic medium to transmit mechanical vibrations). Would an observer on a spaceship imagine the sound it would make? If the observer had an imagined sensory perception in his or her mind, would that be "sound?" If we imagine something, does it become real?

(25 Nov '09, 08:21) John

NO, than no sound would be made John unless maybe someone in space was astra traveling and had ears to hear and heard the sound with their astral ears (smile) or someone in an spaceship practicing remote veiwing than they would hear the sound I am presuming now. But none in the earth far there is no air to breathe so no insects, animals, or humans to hear. Now if someone was seeing from the past to that time or from the future to that time I do not know far I think you you could hear it but you might not. Oh that right no one from the future for all is dead on the planet from lack of air.

(02 Dec '09, 04:07) flowingwater
showing 2 of 5 show 3 more comments

Well at the root of this question is what is classified as "sound" if it is what is received when the frequency hits the ear drums and vibrates then no it can't until there is something to hear it be it human or animal. Until there is a receptor to pick up or tune in there is no "sound" like a dog whistle to humans it makes no sound but to dogs it certainly does make a sound a very high pitched sound!

Another example is radio waves we can not hear them at all but they are all around us even right now there are bands playing music and people talking about the news and police officers saying "I'm there now, lets get him" fire men and ambulance drivers, CB people and so much much more all right now all around you and you hear nothing until you have the proper equipment to receive and amplify these signals to an audible level.

All of that is not classified as "sound" until we actually hear it but it is there always all around us, including thought and I don't doubt it someday we'll have a radio that can tune into that frequency too.

This leads me into a very very interesting lesson from The Secret Teachings of The Rosicrucians by Magnus Incognitus

This will blow your mind!!!!

Take a top and start it spinning you have movement and lets say this top instead of slowing down increases speed indefinitely. This first increase is a low hum Next a medium hum as this goes faster and faster this hum increases higher and higher pitch as well louder and louder. From this very high pitched hum next it goes beyond the human capacity of hearing, it sounds like it goes silent but as I said before a dog would hear it. This goes higher still and now it is starting to get hot, it feels a little warm but as it keeps spinning it heats up more and more hotter and hotter until it feels near burning hot! Now it starts glowing a dull dim red but as it keeps increasing in speed this glows brighter and brighter changing from red to orange then yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet then bright white and gets very bright white and next it seems to go out of the visible spectrum into infra red through to ultra violet. Next it climbs in the lower radio waves spectrum (yes the same radio spectrum that you listen to music on) it keeps spinning faster faster this goes higher through the radio spectrum into Gama waves and Micro waves and Ex-ray waves but it keeps spinning until it has gone through all waves and all spectrums and is so fast now it has finely hit Thought waves, the speed of thought it self it is now a thought!

Think of your Bible and the word and all was made from the word, to make that top would be everything I just wrote in reverse.


answered 19 Nov '09, 06:53

Wade%20Casaldi's gravatar image

Wade Casaldi

+1 for the first sentence, although I liked the rest of your answer as well.

(19 Nov '09, 20:12) Vesuvius

Thank you Vesuvius I am glad you liked it. :-)

(19 Nov '09, 21:02) Wade Casaldi

I agree Wade, there is no sound only a vibration in the air, until the vibration is recieved by something that produces the sound. like a eardrum, recording device, etc...

(03 Apr '11, 19:39) RPuls
showing 2 of 3 show 1 more comments

Yes, it makes an sound because it is an physical tree living in an physical world and when it falls down from rotting or being cut it makes an sound and we may not hear it because we are not there but the animals and insects will.

If you stop and tune your self into the world of the animals and insects. You will be surprise what you will hear. The sounds of nature or quite remarkable. Also if you listen to nature and pay attention to nature you will learn a lot.

You can literally feel danger in the air as it vibrates danger and your body will pick it up through the waves of energy passing through the air.

Now there are many sounds we do not pick up with our ears even when we are there simply because we have maybe unconsciously decided to tune that particular sound out of our conscious hearing now the subscious maybe set at recording but the conscious does not hear it at all for it has completely tune it out. I know for I have done this unintensionally for I had gotten so engrossed in reading an book or doing something that I did not hear something or someone at first until something brings my attention back to it than I hear it. Does that means it not not make an sound NO it means it made an sound but I was not paying any attention to it.

Now there are things if you you give it your attention than you give it power over you and it becomes bigger an stonger but as you take your attention away from it it dwindles down to nothingness now that is an different story. Example would be fear of something if you give it your full attention than you will become even more afraid and it will have more power over you. But this is the begining of another question or story.

The animals and insects communicate all the time. Everything is real and not imaginary once you bring it out of the imagination and creates it than it becomes solidfied in the real world than it is real.

The physical world was create before us humans were created but it was created for us because God knew he was going to create physical human being in his own image. God placed us here in this physical world so we could survive, live and enjoy life as an physical human being.

I have not swam in the oceans, the seas, or touch the waters of them but they are real. So, I don't have to see them in order for them to be real.


answered 19 Nov '09, 02:06

flowingwater's gravatar image


edited 19 Nov '09, 02:28

Sounds can be made if there is no one there to hear it. Germs are there when we can see them. Light rays are there that we can't see. The falling tree produces vibrations. These vibrations are sensed differently by different organs and different organisms. The vibrations would be felt and heard by a person, and felt by a deaf person but not heard. The vibrations might be felt by other trees causing a visible vibration that the people can see. A deaf person could still hear and see the vibration.


answered 26 Mar '11, 21:12

Fairy%20Princess's gravatar image

Fairy Princess

I love this quintessential query into the metaphysical world; as a teacher of philosophy allow me to answer this question using the 4 main philosophies.

Of course it makes a sound; the Father knows when a sparrow falls (Idealist).

Falling objects result in a sound, whether or not it is audible and distinguishable to the human ear is unknown (Realist).

No one is there to see the tree fall, to hear it fall, so it is of little concern to me (Pragmatist).

Define "tree." (Existentialist)

No doubt by now many of you are getting down right sick and tired of me--but life, philosophy, whatever, is like physics: redundant and omnipotent. As humans our culture (experiences) and reinforces (family, friends, community) and language determine our reality.

Great question!


answered 27 Mar '11, 03:59

jmw's gravatar image


while we're on sences, explain colours. lets say your eyes see my green as red lets say. then if i try to explain my red i can only use examples that would and could not it truer or less true what colour you see. the possibilities, there could be someone out there that lives in a real physedelic world but i guess ill never be certain.


answered 03 Apr '11, 01:59

woodenfence's gravatar image


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