Is it true that human in outer space can't differ right side and left side? Around human no another solid.


  • This question could use some further fleshing out but the concept I suppose is Okay. I removed what was going to be a huge series of comments and put it into an answer below... – stoicfury Jan 6 '12 at 1:01
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    Welcome! Is there any chance I might be able to persuade you to expand this a little bit? – Joseph Weissman Jan 6 '12 at 4:21
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    I don't see how this is really a philosophy question at all. – Seamus Jan 6 '12 at 9:15
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    I think it's a physics question disguised as a semantics question which secretly wants to be a philosophy question. Defining the directions is semantics. Directionality in the universe and the lack thereof without a fixed reference point is a physics/cosmology question. Why this is so is philosophy. I was initially ambivalent on this one because although the question as read verbatim is not philosophy, but if understood in the way it was probably intended it might be ok... so I'm waiting a few days for the OP to update. If it doesn't happen, the question will likely be closed as NARQ. – stoicfury Jan 6 '12 at 15:01
  • The solitary human will usually exhibit lack of symmetry: even without anything else but their body to interact with, they will still deal with their body in a more co-ordinated way with one of their hands (their left or their right), unless they are ambidextrous. So the answer has a straightforward answer in the domain of kinesiology: this is true only for ambidextrous people. – Niel de Beaudrap Jan 8 '12 at 15:23

Directions require a relation; they are entirely meaningless without any context. Typically however, the notions of left and right are used in relation to oneself: my right or my left. In this regard and only in this regard would I still be able (in the middle of empty space) to know the direction of left and right (in relation to me).

If you remove all objects of relation, then yes, any directional terms would be meaningless. There is no intrinsic North or South of the universe ("North" for humans typically just means in relation to the geographic North Pole).

This is fairly simple to conceptualize if you remove yourself from the picture, but that can be somewhat challenging to do. I can provide an example but I hesitate in that it may only pollute this otherwise pure notion. But for example, if you were driving and came to a fork in the road which split off in four different directions all facing left, and your friend asked you to "take a left", would that help you? How would you know whether it meant to "take a left" in relation to you ("your" left) or in relation the number of lefts ("first" left) or to one of the roads or a sign or what? Without knowing the relation, the term "left" is without meaning.

example image.


In space, there would be directions available to the individual if that individual is aware of the navigational conventions that are used by others. If you know how to locate a "North" of your planet, solar system, or galaxy, then you could with some effort determine the direction of objects relative to each other. That means that it's basically as stoicfury mentioned, that direction is entirely dependent on your frame of reference. Thus, you need to know how something is oriented in space before you can determine the directions that are left/right/up/down/etc... relative to that object.

So to answer your question, it is NOT true that a human (you for example) in space cannot determine left and right, because with no other points of reference, that your own body becomes the referential center of all of the directional vectors that you could conceive of in that situation. If on the other hand another person (me for example) appeared nearby, then you would have a second point of reference for directionality. I might be floating down and to the left of you, but my orientation might mean that you are also down and to the left of me. Change my orientation, and my direction from you stays the same, but your direction from me changes. If I disappear again, then you revert once more to a single point of reference, being your own sense of direction from yourself.


Right and Left is defined relative to the side which the heart is located.
When you turn left, where do you turn at?
And when you say to the right of an object, at which side do you look at?

But I think you are confused because in outer space some of those concepts that are defined whithin a concept of relation to something else, indeed do not exist out there.

E.g. there is no East and West or North and South or Up ands Down (to say my up as in my left is an meaningless phrease)

But right and left should be conceivable if you accept the above definition.

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