Each of us, to varying degrees, accepts the richly layered and detailed history we possess. That history goes back long before our presence. Even the mere existence of parents, and everyone older than us who we perceive in the course of our lives, is accepted as proof that all which is (the universe) existed before we arrived (were born). We also know everything which is (the universe) continues after our lifespan (our death), because the world goes on after the death of others whom we have known. This is how we know existence is independent of experience.
Existence goes on, no matter who is alive and who is not alive, and even without regard for which species (if any) inhabit the planet at any given time. Existence does not need us to perceive it as ongoing and tangible to validate it as real. A perceivable world existed before humans evolved to announce their perceptions of that world to one another and later codify those perceptions in oral and written traditions. Hence, existence is also apart from perception. However, one property of existence is to harbor living things which do, indeed, perceive their environment in order to facilitate their survival. Thus, we can acknowledge The Second Law of Existence: Perception is a byproduct of existence. However, as we have seen, perception is not necessary to existence’s persistence. However, existence is necessary to the arising of perception.
Since we know existence is, we can extract The Third Law of Existence: Existence will continue to be a constant for as long as perceiving consciousnesses arise. Existence does not have to include life as we know it. Existence persists as long as planets rotate stars, as long as there are galaxies, as long as either matter or energy is present, whether or not they interact with each other or anything else.
Science tells us the universe will die a cold, slow death, 100s of billions of trillions of years in the future. The tendency of the galaxies in the universe will be to continue moving further and further into the frigid, empty reaches of infinite space, all energy will ultimately be spent, leaving frozen, lifeless hunks of matter hulking motionless and inert in space. This end to the universe occurs after all energy has been used up and converted into matter, becoming trapped in spacetime, but nonetheless still there, eternally present. If this is indeed true, then inert existence will continue to persist, even after all energy, and consequently all motion and interaction ceases.
The result is The Fourth Law of Existence: Existence will persist eternally, even after all life has vanished and the last ion has crystallized into matter. At that moment, the universe will be a single, contiguous mass, a Singularity; it will be Unity-made-Manifest because every photon, every iota of energy will have metamorphosed into matter as it condensed after concluding its last iota of exertion and ceasing motion (a thing no longer moving at light speed converts from energy to matter, so when everything ceases movement, everything crystallizes into matter). Astrophysicists would love to be there to see it – the entire reach of eternal infinity condensed into a soupy, contiguous mass of everything-in-one.
A Fifth Law of Existence states: Perception is a property of all living things. Life must perceive in order to sustain itself. A plant perceives the direction of the sunlight and turns its leaves and flowers toward the sun. Microbes perceive viral attacks and create antibodies to protect against the invader. Every living thing breaths and ingests, perceiving those functions. Thus, we see that even brainless things perceive.
Perception was an essential step on the road to thinking. This becomes apparent from The Sixth Law of Existence which dictates: A thing must be perceived in order to be subjected to contemplation. Thinking is categorizing, experiencing, testing and analyzing – all are types of analysis applied to perceived objects, feelings or concepts. Whatever is alive must think, even if on the most rudimentary level (let me turn my leaves a little to follow the sun, order up some white blood cells to ward off an infection, or gee I’m hungry, let me look for food). Thinking need not occur in language. However, all activity is the response of an organism to its thoughts.
I am not suggesting microbes and plants think in language. I'd suggest they think intuitively, from instinct. However, one can infer plants do perceive and process that which they perceive through another observation. Consider that plants will grow into aberrant structures if they are placed in an environment which feeds them atonal music, for instance. In such a situation, the aberrant environment induces the organism, through its perception of that environment, to create aberrant structures in its development which would otherwise not be present. In much the same way, if an individual human is reared in an aberrant environment, the result will be the development of aberrant behavior patterns in that individual.
Perception is also an essential component of communication. One must perceive the existence and presence of another before one can engage with that other in a conversation. All communication forms of which humans are aware express viewpoints regarding individual perceptions between and among thinking/communicating entities. These thinking/communicating entities are what we call consciousnesses.
Every consciousness is subjective because perceptions of the environment are filtered through the unique bias of an individual mental-prism. Perception is rendered subjective due to its arising from experiences specific to the individual and interpreted by the individual. Arriving upon that understanding leads to a realization of The Seventh Law of Existence: All meaning is subjective. Since the effort to extrapolate meaning is an attempt by an individual consciousness to impose subjective order upon whatever naturally occurring order exists in the objective reality which exists a priori, any resulting meaning which is or can be either deduced or inferred will only rise to the level of being subjective. Consequently, whatever naturally occurring, a priori objective reality exists becomes rendered into objective chaos because the subjective viewpoint is too limited to see and comprehend the order inherent in objectivity.
Each individual consciousness is unique. Every individual rationalizes one’s own desired order out of the specific, individual requirements imagined by that specific, perceiving consciousness. Objective chaos, which could rise to its true nature of objective order if we could perceive it without rendering it subjective, is rendered subjective through being perceived, resolving into merely being each individual’s uniquely specific, “subjective chaos,” one subjective reality among all the myriad subjective realities which exist – one for each thinking/perceiving consciousness.
Objectivity can only exist in a vacuum without the intercession of subjective perception. In that sense, objective truths are hidden behind veils of subjective perception, inaccurate communication, hyper-narrow and overly simplified approaches to reality.
Science operates under the illusion that one can prove something through testing, data collection, and subjecting the data to rational inquiry. However, scientists fail to allow for the intercession of their own subjective bias. The scientific method, though a far better tool than any other method for determining how the universe works, still reveals its laws of nature and explanations for interactions through the prism of either an individual researcher’s bias (an experiment built on one individual’s hopes, misapprehensions and expectations) or the more nebulous biases (nebulous because the individual scientists won’t know some of their biases, will refuse to admit others biases even to themselves, and will hold some biases too consciously repugnant to entertain contemplation and self-analysis in that area) belonging to a body of researchers. Those biases include subjective analysis, which, after all, is all the outcome of their work can ever hope to reflect.
For instance, scientists had always thought the results obtained from testing lab rats, mice, monkeys and other creatures were more accurate because the creature(s) had been placed in sterile, or control, conditions. Scientists sought elimination of potential incongruities in the research by controlling the conditions under which the experiment is conducted. It turns out, by keeping creatures in a “control” environment, the scientists created a stressful situation for the creatures, ultimately inhibiting neurogenesis and causing the creatures’ brains to function under impaired conditions. Thus, the results of all tests conducted on the mental processes and intellectual functioning among lab creatures are now potentially faulty. The potential for error occurred because of the imposition of a subjective environment by the scientists and researchers who originated the system of using “control environments,” the subjective choices made by the scientists and researchers who determine the specific “control environments’” parameters for each experiment, and the subjective perceptions and analysis made by the scientists and researchers who conduct and then interpret the data arising from those studies.
Every consciously aware being acquires a unique perspective. Each mind colors how to interpret the world based only on the totality of experience for that specific individual. Therefore, how one sees the world, the way one reacts in response to stimuli or circumstances, and even the nature of self-worth, are all unique to each sentient being. Thus, objectivity (which is probably the closest single concept to the Singularity, Oneness, or Unity, however you prefer to call it) is at all times sublimated within a subjective perspective.
Even if a “God” exists, that “God” would also perceive and analyze from the only perspective available to such a “God,” “God’s” own subjective point of view. So, to that extent, the Universal Point of View would still be subjective, not objective. Without the intercession of objectivity, proof of anything must remain elusive because subjectivity so skews the parameters of what is being observed as to muddy the validity of the perceptions and analysis obtained.
Happiness is a subjective state. It can be obtained by individuals through the pursuit of any individually defined goal or destination. However, contrary to most popularly held beliefs, the journey facilitates the state of happiness in the individual rather than any end which might be accomplished from the pursuit. Processes make us feel alive. Conclusions leave us somber. This is the reason it is the continued pursuit, not the result derived from pursing, which is the source of individual happiness.
Allow me to provide an example.
Remember what it was like after you first discovered feeling love for someone? Exciting, wasn’t it? Life was full of passion and significance. The intensity of feeling grows from the first blushes of attraction through the first flushes of shared romance. For most, that level of passion continues or increases through many stages. Nonetheless, there is an inevitable point in every relationship when familiarity, coupled with the diet of the monotonous momentum of life, reduces passion into at least familiarity, if not ennui.
Each individual has a unique idea as to what constitutes “the prize.” In romantic relationships, the definition of “the prize” might be sexual conquest to one; to another, hearing their partner say, “I love you,” for the first time; and to yet another, the wedding day or the moment when the personal concept of family is achieved. For others still, “the prize” may be embodied in and by a lifetime of accumulation and have nothing to do with love or relationships. For still others, “the prize” may be rooted in the accumulation of experience, perhaps as wide and as varied as those individuals find possible to encounter on one lifetime. Nonetheless, in each instance, when the individual has concluded their particular quest because they’ve reached their unique vision of goal attainment, one begins to imagine there are no new goals to achieve in life.
When such a circumstance arises in the arena of love relationships, the individual’s interest in perpetuating the relationship may begin to wane and ennui can slowly erode exhilaration until it supersedes passion. One need not perceive they failed in a relationship because their partner left them. Neither need they determine their former partner possesses and expresses a serious character flaw because that partner left them. No, the reality is, the partner who left the relationship just did not possess the same conceptualization for what defines their personal “prize” in life. In other words, the differences between all living, sentient creatures creates situations which may, and in fact are statistically likely to, lead to divergences in relationships as opposed to assist an ultimate coherence and ever-fulfilling relationships in ever-greater proportions. We cannot force others to conform to our desires, needs and expectations. Trying to force such conformity can only lead to disagreement, argument and disappointment, as well as hasten the end of the relationship. From this understanding, one can see that humans are not really monogamous creatures. Some may choose to be monogamous throughout their lifetimes, but that is evidence that the partners in those relationships discovered in each other extremely similar approaches to and ideas about their end goals in life. That kind of goal sympathy and compatibility of natures can lead to extremely long lasting or lifetime relationships.
All life is subjectively observed, experienced, created and integrated. Consequently, objective phenomena are made subjective by being constantly reinterpreted through subjective reasoning. For an “objective” truth to exist, that truth would have to represent an observable effect. Once observed, that which was objective becomes subjective through the process of observation-injecting-interpretation-insisting-subjective-point-of-view. There will always be an observer of any observable effect, because for an effect to be observable, it must have an effect on something in the observable world; since the object being affected would: 1) either have ancillary affects on things present in the environment (if you change the place of an object, you alter the dispersal of gravity fields, electromagnetic fields, and/or the movement of some sub-atomic particles, the affects of which can be much more far reaching than one may initially contemplate, especially if the object moved happened to be a bomb), or 2) be aware of the change in its state even if no other sentient being is present to witness the effect, the effect is still observed in that manner – hence, it is still rendered subjective immediately upon being perceived.
Since effects can exist and be observed in states of mind and states of well-being as easily as location or activity, one must conclude, regarding psychosocial states such as: happiness, sense of worth to the community, self-worth and fulfillment, for example, that these states of being are necessarily “subjective” in order to have any effect in the observable world.
Thus, neither these states, nor a meaning for existence, nor anything else, can exist as an objective fact. Out of this understanding arises The Eighth Law of Existence: Nothing in the observable world is objective. The validity of that law infers The Ninth Law of Existence: No objective truths exist in the observable world.
Proponents of phenomenalism suggest one should not separate objects from perception, but view the process as a kind of “existing-being/observed-being interpretation” of the whole. The result of this point of view is that the entire external world is reduced to being an indistinct sea of muddled subjectivity which is never seen the same by any two sentient beings. Hence, nothing can exist which is objectively true or empirically real.
Subjectivity carries within it an inherent unreliability factor. Since no two perceptions are the same and no two interpretations of perceptions are the same, no two observers will ever be in actual or complete agreement on anything. If no two perceptions of reality will ever agree, it follows that objective reality is, at best, a myth (and at worst a nefariously designed point of view, conceived to enslave the masses into believing in the existence of an objectively real and objectively minded God as the original creator and ultimate judge of humans). When one perceives everything one thinks one believes to be, in varying degrees and intensities, faulty due to those thoughts’ and perceptions’ inherent subjectivity, then everything one knows is wrong (to those same degrees and intensities). From this perspective, it follows that no foundation exists for anything.
The school of pragmatism is founded on the theory that assertions can be converted into truths by offering up proof. However, it should be obvious that through the very act of investigating for proof in order to offer it up, whatever evidence one discovers arises from and is interpreted by the subjective process of an observation undergoing analysis yielding a synthesized personal opinion.
One can use as an example Bertrand Russell’s attempt to create a method for proving reality and rendering it objective through his Logical Atomism. Generally, what Russell believed ought to be possible is to render out of the perception the qualities which induce subjectivity. He sought to achieve this by substituting symbols for words. For instance, if one suggests a person must be born before the person can talk, and that the person must talk before the person can learn, then one might deduce it would also be true that the person must be born before they can learn. These are all basic atomic propositions. So, they follow a clearly common-sense oriented frame of reference which seems logical. Here is how Russell might render the entire proposition, which in its entirety is considered a molecular proposition in Russell’s vernacular. A precedes B. B precedes C. Therefore, A must also precede C. By changing the language to a quasi-mathematical language, the subjective components are removed and all that remains is objective data.
However, Russell ran into problems with his system as he tried to apply it to more complex molecular propositions. For instance, I may say I am hot. You may look at me and accept my statement that I am hot. However, you are not basing your statement that I am hot on any actual personal sense data. You are merely accepting my hearsay account. From my point of view, my statement is based on my own sensation, so I have a personal reference point from which to make my claim that I am hot. Now, if you see a third person and tell them that Don is hot, they will have no reason to either believe or disbelieve your contention. One could begin to render this molecular argument with the term, A is B. But how do you get to A tells C that A is B without rendering in the subjective “tells?” From there one is required to move on to C tells D that A is B. However, there is no proof for D that A is B.
Now, apply that to an even more significantly complex molecular proposition. History books tell us that Christopher Columbus discovered America (implying he was the first European human to see America). I have no direct data from which I can infer the relative truth in such a statement. I must trust a whole line of individuals through whom that data was passed along. Then, one day, another source suggests Leif Erickson discovered America before Columbus. Assuming for a moment that we can trust the claim that each man actually sailed to America, we can infer that both men discovered America. However, Columbus’ discovery wasn’t an original discovery in the history of humanity, although it was for the smaller subset of Italians and Spaniards and Englishmen and Dutch sailors of the period in which Columbus lived. More recently, we learn there is evidence to suggest there may have even been earlier contact between South American civilizations and African civilizations as far away as Egypt because of artifacts and substances discovered in each area. Others may argue those are mere coincidences. Nonetheless, the substances found in each area of the world were only indigenous to the other area. Once again, none of us has any direct data upon which to base any of these conclusions. Consequently, the degree of veracity one can apply to any of the claims varies from individual to individual who considers the various data. Hence, what can we say about any of the so called knowledge upon which we base the fabric of our lives? All our truths and all our knowledge is based on probabilities of belief. Because of this line of reasoning, I find it impossible to believe in an objective reality as well as theories of realism which can hold any degree of philosophic weight.
At this point, I even feel the need to state my objection to the term “observation” because the word infers objectivity exists and can be perceived, and that the result of perceiving objectivity is observation. Actually, what we do when we perceive something, would be better termed subservation. I believe language would be far more accurate if we used that word so we stop inferring through everyday language that an objective reality exists when, in fact, nothing could be further from the truth! In this one small example, it becomes apparent how much our impressions of reality are rooted in indoctrination from our ancient histories, the indoctrination contained and passed on through language.
The “proofs” mentioned by the school of pragmatism are only proofs to the perceiver who devised the test to determine a predetermined desired proof. Contemporary society reveals itself as being all too ready to accept as objective facts what sources as divergent as scientists, pharmacologists, lawyers, politicians, religious leaders, news reporting services, books and internet websites tell it to believe. Each has an economic reason to ask you to believe in their contentions. Thus, at every moment, one can never be certain if information being imparted from any source is intended as a subjective interpretation of a verifiable fact or subtle propaganda intended to increase income, maintain a position of power or increase personal prestige.
I feel it incumbent upon me to point out that my penchant for rendering phenomena through the prism of perception, and hence never rising above subjectivity, is rooted in the school of representationalism: meaning that through the intercession of the veil of perception, the real or objective world is removed from direct inspection and introspection. Hence, the school deduces, everything one perceives is an internalized “virtual-reality” replica of some pristinely unperceived objective reality which not only we, but nothing, can ever know. Furthermore, somewhat like Bertrand Russell (through based upon different reasoning which I will explain later), I accept the scientific explanations of physics, biology, chemistry and cosmology as being highly reliable data upon which to predicate inferences about the reality in which we find ourselves.
Relativism, as descending from Protagoras, suggests all things are true and in a constant state of flux. In this view, aspects of truth may occasionally reveal themselves, and at other times truth remains concealed (for instance, God revealing God’s plan for humanity to humanity piecemeal over time). From the point of view that each person holds their own beliefs as truth to themselves, thus rendering them subjective truths, all things can be said to be subjectively true at all times. An objective truth, however, could not be occasionally evident and occasionally hidden or concealed. An objective truth would be consistently constant as well as persistently insistent in every instant. Rather than concealed, objective truths should be more accurately termed unperceived and unperceivable.
Where are we left? We are left with the realization that even if objective truths do exist, they are impossible for any living being to know, because by the process of perceiving them, those a priori objective truths have to be rendered subjective. Each subjective belief is true to the perceiver who subscribes to it. Consequently, we can arrive at three additional laws. The Tenth Law of Existence suggests: All subjective beliefs are valid to their subscribers at all times the subscriber maintains their subscription to the belief. From that law naturally follows The Eleventh Law of Existence infering: All subjective beliefs are invalid to every individual who does not subscribe to the belief at all times that individual maintains an aversion to the belief. The conflict between the previous two laws yields The Twelfth Law of Existence which intimates: A subscriber’s investment in and subscription to a belief retains its subjective validity to the subscriber even when the belief is faced with opposing, mutually exclusive beliefs held by others. Since beliefs only attain the status of subjective truth, and since they need not be accepted by anyone other than the specific, subjective perceiver who subscribes to that particular subjective truth, every view is at all times equally true to each specific perceiver and equally false to everyone else. However, the suggestion that mutually exclusive beliefs are at all times equally valid to those individuals who choose to subscribe to one of the mutually exclusive beliefs also exposes an apparently inherent irrationality which is expressed by The Thirteenth Law of Existence: No objective reality is ever held by any subjective perceiver. The inherent basis for that law arises out from the common sense logic that no objective reality could be confronted by an equally true reality with which it shares mutually exclusive aspects. Consequently, no subjective truth can rise to objective truth status. Hence, we can arrive at The Fourteenth Law of Existence: Nothing knowable by any living being is capable of being objectively true or real. This is a good time to discuss Descartes and his celebrated dictum, “Cogito ergo sum,” which is generally rendered in English as “I think, therefore I am.” The Cartesian premise really means one can reduce observable phenomena to nothing more than subjective suppositions; by extension one can deduce there is no external world since that world is only subjective phenomena subjectively perceived which could easily be nothing more than hallucinations or phantasms from the deluded consciousness of a poorly integrated, perceiving mind. However, Descartes went on to proclaim one cannot deny the contemplative process going on in one’s own mind. So, Descartes suggested the only provable phenomenon in existence is one’s own mind in contemplation. The Cartesian supposition, which really only asserts that the only provable objective truth is the subjective mind, is an irrational statement. Nothing inherently subjective can be raised to the status of being objectively true. One could modify the Cartesian argument to say “Because I think, I prove to myself I exist.” That still doesn’t prove the existence of anyone or anything else, nor does it prove your existence to anyone or anything other than you.
All the statement really means is that each of us is real to ourselves. We are real to each other and to the world around us (and the world around us is real to each of us) only to the degree that each subjective, perceiving consciousness decides to believe in our subjectively perceived but mutually shared reality. If I do not know you, you cannot be objectively real to me, and you can only be subjectively real to me to the degree I am willing to believe in your existence. However, the Cartesian suggestion fails to support itself because of the inherent irrationality arising from the mutually exclusive perceptions that: 1) you can prove to yourself you are an objective reality, 2) who I can deny objectively exists.
An even more careful view of “I think, therefore I am,” yields additional irrational and mutually exclusive “truisms.” The individual is placed in the position of being a Leibnitzian monad, a kind of “God” in one’s own reality. I say this because, if all one can believe in is oneself, one must ultimately determine that everything else is a phantasm of the self’s own creation. If the self is the creator of the self’s reality, the self can be inferred as being God in one’s subjective reality. Upon what model did the self create the reality the self has dreamed up? How can the self know the self if there is nothing other than the self? How can the self conceive? From what imagination does the self conceive if there is nothing other than the self from which to imagine? It seems patently obvious that cogitation of any kind depends upon, at minimum (even if words are not the language of thought), a subject and a predicate. For a subject and predicate to exist in the self so the self can contemplate, the self must exist in an external environment. A predicate indicates an action. Actions can only occur in environments external to an individual. Even if one suggests perceivable actions occur within one’s own body, those perceivable actions occur outside the perceiving mind, hence, they are still external to the perceiving/analyzing self.
The environment is always naturally balanced by polar opposites. Whatever comes into existence always brings with it an equal-opposite. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. For every state of being, there exists an equal and opposite state of being in order to be distinguishable as anything other than sameness. For every condition arising, there must also be an equal and opposite condition in order to even know the condition exists.
A subject, then, infers an anti-subject. A predicate infers either: activity or relationship, as well as an anti-predicate, which is the opposite activity or relationship. For activity to be present requires the presence of an actor, an acted-upon, an action, and a modification to the actor, the acted-upon or both. For a relationship to be present requires the presence of at least two differing subjects with a corresponding range of possibilities in kind and degree of difference.
No matter how you approach conceiving that which is the essence of a monad, one must admit it is impossible for a monad to be consciously aware of itself unless the self it is consciously aware of resides in an environment separate and distinct from the self, allowing the self the opportunity for action, reaction and interaction with non-self. Hence, in “I think, therefore I am,” Descartes has failed to provide the other-than-self, or the self’s environment, which would have to exist for the thinker to be able to activate the potentiality of thinking and be able to achieve self-awareness.
The Cartesian principle not only wants you to take yourself out of the world in order to prove your existence, at the same time, it demands you place yourself at the head of your own world, and then prove your own objectivity to yourself by the presence of your subjective consciousness. Despite its inherent irrationalities, the Cartesian principle offers a smugly satisfying appeal for those frightened and insecure who compensate by interposing grandiose notions of self. The Cartesian principle provides the foundation behind the ultimate rationalization for every human endeavor.
However, to define reality as subjective and knowable requires the individual to accede to group consensus. In the unchallenged acceptance of group consensus, the individual foregoes many of the basic freedoms inherent to self-determination and submits to group control.
Consider that the first Homo sapiens arose in a vast world, possibility only restrained by their ability to imagine. Restriction would not have been a word in their early vocabulary. The potential for absolute freedom existed. Those early Homo sapiens would have raised and cared for their young just as we do today. Rather than schools which disseminate indoctrination into the prevailing social, cultural, political and economic systems in the same breath as knowledge, the young would have been shown the skills necessary for survival and received the love and connection commonly shared in community. It would wait for humans to gather together in groups larger than nuclear families before the development of more rigid societies with hierarchies, codes of conduct and laws (with strongmen to enforce them) would arise.
It is also worth noting that even in a world where groups control property rights to most places, as long as there remains some accessible unclaimed space, the potential for the individual to live freely and according to one’s own whim persists. Yes, in that world, all one need do is relocate to an isolated area in order to experience a completely free existence. Unfortunately, in the contemporary world, there are few unclaimed spaces available. One cannot wander off into the hills or down some river in search of enriching experience free of group control. Consequently, the only intervening social dynamic in contemporary times is tyranny, either by the masses through the “herd mentality” Nietzsche described, or by classes of empowered entitlement, elitists, militarists, tax collectors and authoritarians.
Any life lived which is marked by a desire to conform to cultural norms cedes its right to seek its own subjective happiness and meaning through a conversion to the vain attempt of seeking a culturally acceptable version of those states. Since happiness and meaning are subjective phenomena, interpreted and experienced by each individual and only definable by each individual for oneself, no group ethos can link an individual to a “fountain of happiness.” No, happiness and meaning are products of living, defined by the self, sought by the self, and bestowed on the self in the process of living one’s life!
The individual possesses no right to force its values, opinions or actions on any other individual, nor through any cultural group as a whole onto collections of individuals. Respect, tolerance, self-determination, survival, mutual acceptance and social harmony dictate that the individual possesses responsibilities to the culture just as the culture owes responsibilities to all individuals in return.
Meaning and happiness are derived from seeking (from the act of living). This process of seeking finds its only constraints plumbing the depths of the rights, survival, prosperity, property, health, needs, desires and hopes for the self, yet without ever encroaching on the rights, survival, prosperity, property, health, needs, desires and hopes expressed by any other individual or future society.
Because happiness is a process oriented experience, the idea that Heaven, Nirvana, satori, a return to the Garden of Eden, or any human endeavor intended to create a Utopia can loom as an end goal for humanity reveals itself as a sad deception. One cannot arrive at a state of perfection or an eventual, perpetual bliss because the idea of bliss would become commonplace if that is all there is without the presence of less-than-blissful-states for comparison.
Again, bliss and other relative states of happiness (including the notions of satori and Nirvana, which aren’t really happiness, but certainly denote fulfillment, a sense of one’s place in the world, and meaningful living) are nothing more than subjective criteria useful only to the perceiver and only in relation to their perceived world. Places like Heaven and the Garden of Eden cannot be objectively real because they emanate from a subjective source, the subjective mind of the human who created those fictional places and first disseminated their names as having come from some divine inspiration.
Of course the ideas of Heaven and a Garden of Eden were perceived to have come from the mouth of God into the mind of the human prophet; probably because even the prophet himself could not have believed he conceived it. These ideas, just like Divine Right of Kings, hereditary monarchies, Hegel’s dialectic, Marxism, Capitalism, The Big Bang, evolution expressed by Natural Selection, the nature of spacetime and every other belief ever entertained in the annals of humanity, were nothing more than a notion which popped into some individual’s head. A creative idea, yes; but as objective truths go, this one leaves too much to the imagination to pose as objectivity. Every narrative is the product of human subjectivity, even when cloaked with irrational and miraculous claims.
Nonetheless, superstitious humanity has built religious philosophies out of the musings of far less learned, less experienced and less intelligent ancestors from antiquity than themselves who live in, depend on, but deny the perspective of the age of scientific pragmatism. In this way, humanity straps its process based self to unrelentingly unachievable paragons which have no basis in any natural process in the Universe.
Comprehending that reality can only be understood by subjecting the world of subjective perception to subjective analysis, Søren Kierkegaard presented a new approach to understanding reality during the first half of the nineteenth century. He reasoned, “Truth is subjectivity.” Kierkegaard placed his greatest emphasis upon the individual in his system of thought, asserting action, freedom and self-determination as the most important among human interests. The thrust of Kierkegaard’s reasoning argued the individual has primacy over the group. Since, according to Kierkegaard, all truth is subjective, and all subjective truths are equally valid, the group has no authority upon which to demand anything of the individual.
In the second half of the nineteenth century, Friedrich Nietzsche tried to awaken humanity by shaking people out of the doldrums of what he called “herd mentality.” He saw the migration of people everywhere from the countryside to the cities. He witnessed the rise of the middle class, attracted by the lure of things and money, and watched the rising middle class seek a false sense of security in numbers.
Nietzsche understood public opinion is malleable and tends to conform to social norms. To Nietzsche, un-contemplated conformity leads to dissociation of the individual will. Nietzsche felt humanity had allowed itself to get sucked into believing a huge lie; and in so doing, they also enslaved themselves to not only perpetuating that lie, but also to the code of obedience which represses all notions of self-interest, self-determination and personal will. The individual was given a moral code invented by convention and handed down without consideration for the individual’s right to self-determination. Then, Nietzsche built on that foundation by interposing a notion of a kind of “superman.” This notion represents an incumbency upon those strong enough to stand up to the pressure to conform and to actually live the only life worth living, a self-determined life.
The notion of the “superman” described the resulting personality and lifestyle which would naturally arise out from Nietzsche’s preeminent dictum which he termed the “will to power.” The “will to power” meant living a life based on one’s own ideas, beliefs, wants and desires. It meant having the courage to rise above every pressure to conform to social norms and expectations. It meant foregoing commonly accepted reasons for living, accumulation of wealth, power, position, property, beauty, status, physical strength, a trophy wife, brilliant children, achievements in career or any field of endeavor, or any other form of socially or culturally conferred elite status. No, Nietzsche didn’t necessarily desire that we should forego all those kinds of endeavors. Nietzsche demanded that we seek them to fulfill the burning in our individual natures to express our true selves. He believed that whatever one had to do or die a miserable, unfulfilled death for not having completed is what one must do above all things! But, one must pursue that course for self-fulfillment, not to impress society or achieve a status exteriorly conferred. No value existed, to Nietzsche, that was externally conferred.
Nietzsche advanced a value in declaring “God is dead.” He believed this would release humanity from the shackles of its futile belief in the existence of an objective, universal perspective. Once released, people could come to understand reality is not rooted in any objective truth because no objective truths exist. Humanity, he believed, would then see reality as rooted in the infinite creative potential of the individual; and the infinitely diverse spectrum of perspectives which naturally arises in such a vast sea as eternity. Nietzsche’s “will to power” describes the deepest approach to freedom.
Freedom does not exist if it is not exercised. The meaning of the “will to power” lies in giving voice to the individual experiential unit at the same time as the individual becomes invested with personal responsibility for everything which occurs in their world. Where ever the individual feels affronted, that individual must persuasively voice their opposition. The idea of the “superman” (but never supermen – the concept was bastardized by the Nazis, however, Nietzsche’s conception had nothing to do with Hitler, a super race of Aryans, Nazis or Nazism) was intended to suggest someone who lived above and beyond pleasure and suffering, treating them alike, knowing they are just two sides of the same coin.
If reality could be objective, as group consensus demands we accept in the everyday living of our lives, then it would have to conform to something agreeable to the group consensus’ expectations. As soon as individuals agree to both accept and conform to the will of any group consensus and the commonly interpreted consensus’ perception of reality, they agree to cede the fundamental right of self-determination. In its place is submission, sublimation and a bland conformity.
Herds of humans congregating together and forming a malleable mass are easily manipulated as any view of history and human willingness to excitedly agree to enlist in the cause of all kinds of recent and ancient horrors attests. Classes inevitably segregate into doers and deciders. The deciders receive a bountiful wealth while the doers do all the work and still can’t pay their bills. Currently, the doer mass is manipulated by the decider class. Once a schism in classes occurs, it will continue to widen with the passage of each and every day. In this way, elitism and aristocracies arise.
Objective truths, by virtue of being “objective,” could not lead to schisms in society favoring some over others. Each individual would have to earn their own rightful (but equal) place out of equal opportunity and equally supportive circumstances. Since this is not the condition in which humans find themselves, it is clear that our reality is subjective, not objective. Each person has their own reality, their own truths, and their own beliefs, which they do their best to blend into culturally acceptable norms. Hence, both reality and truth are subjective, each equally valid to each perceiver. In a world in which every subjective truth is equally valid, one must accept that no sentient being arising out from those circumstances can possibly know objectivity.
As R. D. Laing suggested in his approach to studying mental illness in his book “The Divided Self”, the demons, fears, phantasms and other strange behaviors associated with psychoses are as real and valid to the psychotic as regular, daily life is to a “normally adjusted” individual (whatever “normally adjusted” might mean). Literally, beliefs are real to the believers. Laing also claimed the individual personality is formed and arises out of the home in which it is raised. In other words, babies learn to do what they see others do and they learn to react to the kinds of outside stimuli they receive in like manner. Hence, if a child is faced with irrational behavior, the child will adapt and learn to respond in irrational ways.
Children learn to behave by following codes of conduct witnessed in the environment. Belief systems are passed from parent to child. The permeating culture exerts conformity; it is a conformity bred by television, advertising, news broadcasts, schools and the cultural rites of Christmas and Sunday sermons. Laing believed pathologies arise out of pathological situations, for instance: neglect, belligerence and abuse. He felt it was unfair to blame the individual for perceived failings. Individuals are only doing the best they can, given what they’ve been taught and what experience has made of them.
From these discussions, it follows that everything perceived, being subjective, cannot be objective, so perceived realities, and perceived facts, and even perceived conditions may or may not be true or real. The same would have to be said of illusions, phantasms, dementia, nightmares, dreams or hallucinations. All are equally true and false; each is as likely to be real as unreal in Laing’s view. In fact, in Laing’s view, each is equally real and equally true to the individual who accepts their perception as real and valid. The psychotic invests just as much belief in the objective reality of phantasms originated in the psychotic mind as the well adjusted individual invests in their perception of reality. Since, to be objectively true or accurate mutually exclusive perceptions of reality cannot be objective and will never rise above subjective.
Following this line of thought, one is next lead to the observation that existence both is and is not. In this manner, one can say, even one’s own thoughts cannot be declared objectively real.
Descartes, like all human elitists, suggested people can think away everything but thinking. Therefore, thinking is the most certain reality. The only reason he couldn’t think away thinking is because his own narcissism wouldn’t allow him to consider that he, the thinker within, might not exist, or that the thinker within bears no relationship to his perception of who and what the thinker within is. Who directs the thoughts of this dynamic thinker within the self? Do you? Don’t most things spontaneously spring to mind? Is it the thinker within who wills this? Who is that other “willer” within of whom you are not aware and cannot control? Is the inner voice consistent, or do you sometimes do things spontaneously which you never would have consciously and deliberately decided or willed to do, and you aren’t quite sure who did it or how it occurred? Is there a mischievous voice also in there somewhere?
“Cogito ergo sum?” My reply to you is, “You subjectively perceive, so you subjectively ponder; but you never objectively know.”
If one cannot explain reality by studying that which is other-than-oneself, because the act of studying it renders other-than-oneself a subjective perception, and in that way never arises to being more than a subjective commentary on what is subjectively perceived, then one can begin to see the Universe as absurd, ambiguous, everything to everyone while also nothing to no one, which is created anew in the mind of each perceiving, sentient being in each moment of life. For you, one among all sentient beings experiencing and perceiving reality, to allow your lifetime to be spent adoring idols: religious, celebrity or political, especially the notoriously tawdry ones, is demeaning and belittling to your own self-worth, opportunity and expression.
Sentient beings find themselves born and raised into an already formed and defined world, meaning external reality exists before the arising of, and independent of, the thoughts of any specific, and every general, sentient being. That world cannot be thought away. One cannot deny the existence of the landlord, the register at the grocery store or the exhortations from employers without suffering repercussions in your physical world which you cannot argue away. Accepting that point of view reduces Descartes’ dictum into an understanding that thinking is less real than the world outside one’s mind. Accepting the inability to think away the world led Martin Heidegger to comment that the most certain reality is “being in the world.”
This is the basis for my contention that a monad, God, or undifferentiated everything, could not think, because as we see, reality is absolutely dependent on thought, thought is dependent on perception, and perception is dependent on something other-than-self for the self to perceive in order for thought to arise contemplating the implications of the just received perception of other-than-self. Since one cannot define self except in relationships to other-than-self, awareness and consciousness cannot exist in a vacuum. This also means there could not have been a willed creation of everything by an ultimate creator because that creator, to be sentient, would have to exist in an environment for which that creator could not have been the creator. Humanities’ need to believe they exist beyond their lifetimes through an eternal soul is an echo of their inbred, ancient fear of the dark. Sentience does not confer evidence, eminence or dominance. You die, you cease. But you become part of all-which-has-ever-been.
Jean-Paul Sartre is known for the statement, “Existence precedes and rules essence.” What he meant by this is there are no set of characteristics endemic to humans except those which each individual creates and defines for oneself. People are free to act as they choose (though consequences will arise as a result of the choices for activity an individual makes). However, the individual, in confronting the environment, learns one must conform to rules of behavior. The better one plays the game, the better are the opportunities which can come along. One, however, is also free to see the interrelationship of life, and choose to live by a personal code of ethics in the form of a moral imperative. One discovers understanding and cooperation serve best when one is raised in an environment which teaches cooperative understanding and proves its greater benefit to humanity though the results achieved. “We must each be our own saints,” Sartre would have said. And so, many years later, half-a-million hippies lived, loved, played, listened, smoked and enjoyed together at Woodstock in 1969, proving the dream can become reality if we just heed the wise words Paul McCartney sang in the Beatles song he penned with John Lennon and “Let It Be.”
Blaise Pascal, in his book, Pensées (1670), argued that without the existence of God, life would be meaningless and miserable; people would create obstacles to overcome and then overcome them to escape boredom. This seems to me to be a very adequate description of the state of existence/reality in which we find ourselves. I’d say any deep inspection into the implications of the state of the world we perceive in conjunction with Pascal’s argument only leads to an inherent maelstrom of dissociative contradiction. Even Pascal’s suggestion of the human escapist syndrome is ultimately rendered meaningless since at some future point, it is a fact, humans will become extinct, and yes, Virginia, there will still be a universe, even when no one is left to perceive it.
Nonetheless, in our ancient past, someone invented a theory of an eternal afterlife to allay human fears regarding a perceived heresy which denigrates everything other-than-human with a human-centric view of existence. Humans cannot accept they might be the same as the animals around them, or perhaps the human-centric viewpoint arose out from Cro-Magnon's need to distinguish themselves from other humanoids, like Neanderthal or Java-Man for instance. To justify the existence of an eternal afterlife, a variety of pagan, neo-pagan, Hindu, Egyptian, Norse, Greek, Roman and countless other gods, YHVH, God and the hand Allah have been put forth as the ultimate, original creator of the Universe.
Sartre argued that the suggestions, humans survive beyond death and a God exists, were presented in bad faith in that the arguments entailed the acceptance of facts not in evidence, of concepts and doctrines which can never be proven but which are also unsupportable as being objectively true since they lack objective evidence. I would like to add that additional bad faith arises out of the exclusivity of the hierarchy for the club of believers and the club’s demands upon the masses to accept on faith alone all the facts not in evidence while, in so doing, subservient themselves to that hierarchy.
Herbert Marcuse took the ball from there and explained the inherent bad faith becomes evidence of the denial of a universal moral creed, since universal morality 1) was born of a lie intended to allow certain individuals to gain favorable positions in primitive societies, 2) did result in the creation of a priest class, 3) for which the process of preserving favored positions has been perpetuated through inquisitions, excommunications, slavery, the black death, and modern military warfare. He told us that the primitive within us clings to these ancient opiates.
Camus (like I), embraced meaninglessness, finding consolation and purpose solely within the subjectivity of individual will, individual perception, and self-determination.
Sartre did not intend the ideas of good and bad faith to contain moral value attributions. They were merely indicative of ways of being. We all choose our way of being. Each way of being is as valid as any other to the individual. Are we honest and open in our dealings or do we hold secrets and mislead others? Do we lead people on knowing we are offering a sham? Do we incite war with a wink and a nod in order to promote a scam? Do we command obedience to laws or creeds we do not respect ourselves? Sartre did not apply objectivism in his personal philosophy. Without objectivism, moral values may not be imputed by one person or any group upon any other individual. There are only subjective choices, each leading to experience; all choices and experiences being the valid choice of a self-deterministic individual according to the whim of that individual’s subjective point of view.
If consciousness is a byproduct of experience (as Sartre propounded), and if experience gained through books, plays, movies, TV, song lyrics, interactive games, role playing games like Dungeons and Dragons, advertisements, newscasts, magazines, newspapers and other media are correctly described as being as valid a personal experience as anything else (as Sartre also suggested), then the path to a truly free, individual consciousness lies in breaking down all belief systems currently held along with all coping mechanisms currently in place in conjunction with the socio-cultural reinforcement arising from the influence of the environment upon the individual. Such a path to freedom is impossible to achieve in the contemporary world. Hence, the most effective way to jar consciousness out of its prison of narcissism and investing it with true freedom of expression lies though interjecting absurdism, surrealism, and psychedelicism into the range of subjective perception. The idea being that these influences are liberating; they heighten the impressionism inherent in subjective, individual perspective. Nonetheless, perception of Unity will always remain unattainable as long as individuality remains sublimated to cultural restraint and the boundaries delineated by dissociation arising from individual conformity to cultural and sociological norms.
Heidegger and Sartre argued that all Being (the nature of existence and reality) is rooted in being (daily life) as it relates to concrete existence, and that consciousness is a property of existence. In both modern and contemporary times, the human condition has been marked by angst (anxiety). Angst results from the interaction between free self-determination and the responsibilities arising from the consequences of one’s decisions and actions. Existential psychologists suggest people embrace their angst, that they use it to initiate personal change and to strive to reach one’s fullest potential.
Logotherapy asserts that all humans possess a will to find meaning, and that serious behavioral problems develop when no meaning can be imposed on the individual’s subjective chaos. This explains why people cling to their notions of God and religion. They can reduce the search for personal meaning to an acceptance of commonly agreed-upon superstition without any need for a supporting factual basis. The safety the “herd mentality” offers against the dissociating persistence of an ever-more-frightening, ever-more-alienating, ever-more-dangerous world relieves a significant burden of insecurity every individual would otherwise face.
Christians, likewise, remove even more layers of burden through the process-doctrine of repentance-forgiveness-salvation. That self-perpetuating dynamic allows the individual to forget personal responsibility: one will be forgiven anyway, so there is no reason for any individual to even try to avoid transgressions. Perhaps this explains why national leaders, who otherwise claim to be devout Christians, can lead their nations in wars of retribution and aggrandizement.
Psychologists believe psychotherapy offers patients a safe way to explore one’s depths in the search for personal meaning. This search for meaning, whether universal, personal, or both, is a search for final answers. In a universe which has existed somewhere in the neighborhood of at least 13.7 billion years without us and which will exist for far longer than that into the future (even after humanity has gone the way of the dinosaur), neither original causes nor final solutions will ever come within our horizons, so they have no bearing whatsoever on our lives or the meaning we might seek to invest into our lives.
The demand by humans to explain the Universe in terms of a reason, a purpose, a motivation, and a consequent resolution, is nothing more than humanity demanding to grant itself dominion over everything, and impose its own values, preferred structure and pre-eminence as narcissistically more significant than the vast sea of other-than-self throughout an immeasurable eternity, ego-tripping on a cosmic scale at the same time as humanity ignores that life is processed based and instead focuses on trying to find redemption in ends. We demand to be important, to be valued, and to be necessary, even indispensable. So, we invent a cosmogony which places humanity above every other manifestation in the universe (and within which even only a select few people will ultimately be chosen by God to live on the new Eden on Earth throughout eternity after the apocalypse).
Another point of view lies in process teleology: the idea that evolution is goal directed, not guided by a divinity, but existing as a “process of becoming,” through the inherent unfolding of “everything.” Divinity ceases to represent a creator or an end state to be achieved, reunited with, or adored. Again, however, the head of narcissism arises. This system reveals the manner in which many humans express their need to be so important that they invest in a belief which states humanity will evolve into gods themselves as well as creates classes of elitists who direct and manipulate the details of everyone and everything else.
What would the ultimate, perfected end state a perfected humanity would achieve represent? Well, if it is extrinsic finality, purpose would be found in the utility and welfare of other beings. However, if final causes relate to intrinsic finality, then purpose would arise out of the natural tendency in all things to express the endemic perfection inherent in the functioning of their own natures. This last suggestion confuses objective and subjective meaning. In its system, each individual discovers subjective meaning. However, to grasp objective meaning, one would need to have knowledge of everything, everywhere, throughout all time, clearly an impossible state to attain.
States of perfection cannot be reached without knowledge of objective meaning. Hence, neither individuals nor groups of people can reach perfection or understand objective meaning because the path to objectivity is blocked, not only by subjective perception, but also by their own finite nature and corresponding inability to know everything, everywhere throughout eternity upon which to base an apprehension of objective meaning. Consequently, the dream of a utopia on Earth is blocked by both the subjectivity of the people who would create and interact in that utopia and the narrowness of perspective from which an attempt to comprehend utopia springs. The closest course to living a life with meaning which can be grasped arises from living in accordance to Universal Principles.
Hegel saw the world in terms of a conversation. The dialectic he described represents a conversation between the individual and other-than-self. As the individual seeks to assert autonomy, one discovers one must develop a relationship with external reality. This external reality has divided people against each other for no apparent reason other than historical inertia, the desire of the wealthy and powerful to perpetuate their privileged positions, and continued personal responses to audacious acts perpetrated on both sides of the unremitting cycles of violence which exist in clashes between cultures.
No current culture or society wants to be the first to forgo revenge and engage a new human beginning, an era of cooperation and understanding, which would also save countless lives in the future and open up the possibility for economic and social ties that could aid integration among former enemies: humanizing each other, seeing beyond the illusions of demons, and offering opportunity and hope to future societies. Failing, so far, to see the possibilities in renouncing violence and oppression, the unnatural, yet persistent conflict between groups and between sub-groups within the larger group is the backdrop upon which the individual conducts a conversation with society and all cultural social structures.
That conversation is what Hegel called the dialectic. In Hegel’s terms, one begins with a starting point (which could be anywhere in time for this purpose, but let’s use an infant for our example), say the moment an infant first realizes the existence of mother. The thesis is the infant’s mindset before discovering mother as external from self. The antithesis becomes the realization that mother is separate from self. The synthesis becomes the result of the interaction between the two, as the infant learns to cry in order to have mother attend to its needs. That synthesis, then, stands on its own as a new thesis, and is met with a new antithesis, perhaps that mommy and daddy utter tones in an organized fashion which seem to mean something. The resulting new synthesis exists in the first words spoken by the infant as it begins to understand language.
Obviously, the dialectic continues, unabated, throughout every second of every individual’s life, from birth to death. In this way, Hegel’s dialectic describes an unending process of opinion facing reason yielding new understanding. Every moment of life offers the opportunity to teach us a new understanding and a new way of looking at the world. Holding on to impossible answers created by our ancient ancestors out of their ignorance, superstition and need to explain that-which-is-not-known, is just contemporary humanity holding on to the most animal parts of its nature, most frightened part of its insecurity, and most superstitious elements of its irrationality.
Out of the dialectic, human reasoning processes discover some behavior consistently triggers specific responses from other-than-self which can be calculated to result in corresponding sensations or emotions within the self. One picks and chooses on scales devised to weigh risk versus reward. A child will like to eat cookies, but mother may admonish against eating between meals. The child must weigh the risk of mother discovering the child ate a cookie versus obtaining the reward of enjoyment from actually eating the cookie. Out of these kinds of experiences, people end up developing codes of ethics, moral value systems, and learned behavior patterns.
In a truly free society, each child would be able to formulate their own sense of morality and a personal code of ethics, naturally, growing up in the family and a clan of relatives. However, the world in which our consciousnesses awaken comes already formed with a package of rules, laws, religious admonitions, peer pressure, and social convention. During a period of time when specific neurons ought to be growing and completing circuits for facility of use in all areas (including in the development of moral codes and pondering the mysteries of natural wonder), children are taught their moral code and have a personal regimen dictated to them without explanations of rhyme or reason why. Those same children have a predetermined cosmogony forced on them. The result is atrophy in those areas of the brain devoted to developing and facilitating individual morals and subjective explanations for reality. The brain finds itself unable to develop the synapses necessary for those functions because neurogenesis wasn’t stimulated in the way it should have been at the time the child should have been investing in the development of a viable personal morality, ethos and connection to reality.
Nonetheless, along the way, the child discovers it can occasionally get away with disobedience if not caught, so it experiments with rule-breaking. Those experiments lead to the development of a whole different set of synapses which facilitate rule-breaking. Immediately, what this approach to raising children teaches them is the opposite of what they would naturally learn on their own as well as the opposite of what parents and society wish children to learn. They are busy learning how to get around rules instead of learning to develop a viable, personal code of ethics out of their personal discovery of right and wrong.
Religious Commandments are just larger rules to navigate through. We spend much of our childhood learning to stretch the limits of rule-breaking. We conspire together to rule-break in pairs and small groups. Rule-breaking becomes a subculture of adolescents. In this way each generation grabs the banner of freedom, seeking an honest, open and egalitarian liberty. Commensurately, each society sows the seeds of its own undoing in the cultural repression which passes for conventional wisdom and an imposition of rules and laws in which the individual never invested any real belief. This dynamic occurs because society feels the need to exert control over people: everyone, everywhere. Rebellion is ultimately always the result of repression, whether expressed as teenage rebellion against parents, teenage rebellion against the enforced conformity of the entire older generation, or an entire social group’s revolution against a previous governmental order.
Morality would naturally be chosen by the individual through developing an understanding of what would create the kind of world within which the individual would want to live. One’s moral code ought to be composed by the individual as their personal path to redemption – giving one’s own life a sense of being a life worth having been lived each moment, in every activity and association.
As we constantly see, freedom entails responsibility. True freedom would allow every individual the right to define their own moral code. In return for that, the individual owes every other individual, and society as a whole, the responsibility of never infringing on any others’ personal rights or reasonable group concerns. In other words, we can do better than to breed envy and gluttony out of cultural demands for obedience to pre-defined rules and customs and admonitions that amassing wealth is the greatest achievement a human may aspire to reach. We can, instead, lift humanities’ moral fiber by challenging each person to discover Universal Principles and put them into practice in their own life through the development of personal morals and ethics from their own, constantly evolving, understanding of Universal Principles.
Our ethics should not be designed to maximize personal, physical world: social status, comfort, wealth, etc. None of these systems for creating hierarchies confer legitimacy on any culture or nation which interposes their ideas of morality on others. The group absurdly asserts a right to guarantee the safety of all in the bosom of cultural conformity to the rule of law at the expense of all who prefer not to conform. A view backward through time reveals a constant thread of examples of individuals’ unwillingness to accept the domination of any other person or group.
If morality were continually encouraged to be developed by each individual, which they would learn by applying their reason into weighing the balance between asserting their own individual freedom versus respecting all other individual’s freedom (knowing the individual cannot have any semblance of personal freedom if the same is not extended to all others), then morality would be invested with personal conviction. Instead of seeking ways to subsume cultural control through enforced sublimation of the self to “herd mentality,” the aware and engaged consciousness will develop its own rules based on a fair and equal respect for the freedom of all. Morals obeyed out of fear or because of peer pressure are not invested with self-determination, so that individual does not express or exemplify the presence of either a moral individual or a system of ethics which will persist throughout one’s life. The moral individual is the person who does right for its own sake, not for a reward like heaven and good karma or to avoid a penalty like hell and bad karma. Personally rewarding motivations do not confer morality.
Language is both the great facilitator of communication and the strongest impediment to being understood. Without language, people would not be able to transfer information from one person to another, pass information from one generation to the next, share the gamut of experience with one another, develop fulfilling, interpersonal relationships, or cohere into societies. At the same time, an investigation into the uses and qualities of language exhibits one unfortunate realization, all words have multiple definitions carrying nuanced connotations of subjective meaning. What is meant and what is understood may stand far apart, depending on the experience and subjective inference each person will perceive in the same string of words. In this sense, the muddled, subjectively individual perception strays even further from objectivity when encoded in a language of words which must be interpreted by each individual according to their life experience and understanding.
No objective, definite descriptions, interpretations or understandings can ever exist. For such objectivity to be real, all of the following would have to be true: 1) an objective reality exists, 2) there can only be one objective reality, 3) the objective reality must be composed of objective truth(s), 4) objective truth(s) must be observable, 5) objective truth(s) must be provable, and 6) validity of the proof of objective truth(s) must be observable. However, a paradox arises because the human mind cannot perceive objectivity since the process of perceiving renders what is observed as subjective.
Consequently, we can state with greater accuracy: 1) proof of objective truth(s) cannot be observable because upon being perceived the proof is rendered subjective, 2) consequently, objective truth(s) cannot be proven, 3) meaning objective truth(s) cannot be observed since upon being observed the proof must be rendered subjective, 4) since objective truth(s) cannot be observed, no effects of objective truth(s) exist in the observable world, 5) objective truth(s) cannot be true, real, reliable or valid if no effects from objective truth(s) exist in the observable world, so 6) the observable world is neither built on objective truth(s) nor can it be a physical manifestation of any (even unperceivable) objective reality.
It stands to reason any attempt to force individuals to conform to group-think will only lead to dissociation of the individual. Nothing in nature yields to the force of homogeneity. Evolution actually rewards species which adapt to new conditions by nurturing diversity. Trends and fads tend to condense the human experience into a bland and insipid moral, cultural and intellectual wasteland, increasing stress at exponential rates of growth to not only consolidate all wealth into the hands of the few but to also, slowly but surely, suck all the originality out of individual humans. Every new fad is another fix from the opiate of forced re-conformity to the financially rewarding system of ever-changing fashion. Cultural whim diminishes into the banality of luxurious excess. The inevitable response in this cyclical syndrome is to understand that when subjectivity is repressed, it arises elsewhere in the personality as vanity, gluttony, waste, indifference and deceit.
People cannot comprehend objectivity since to perceive objectivity is to make it subjective. Thus, each individual lives in a unique, subjective reality. Each individual’s subjective reality is interpreted by the self as being correct, and is mistakenly called objective by the self. When subjective truths imposed by the culture are clearly at odds with those of the individual, neither can provide proof for either belief system. The individual and culture discover there are broad areas of agreement in the subjective perceptions of both the individual and society. The generally accepted perception of reality becomes a kind of group consensus perception of reality wielded by the group consensus to control individuals and regulate interpersonal relationships and commerce.
The individual is born into the tyranny of the subjective, social order. Mass opinion is manipulated by the wealthy and powerful, allowing them to mold public opinion into a group ethos which perpetuates the status quo. Individuality succumbs to the will of popular propaganda through the inertia of blind acceptance and learned behavior. The self submits personal will to group domination, not on the basis of affinity with core beliefs, but where core beliefs are forced on individuals simply because the individuals happened to be born in a specific place at a specific time. As individuals experience a kind of unconscious, but ever-present, undercurrent of alienation and angst, the self dissociates into alternate expressions of paradox.
The dissociation of the individual leads to a series of responses. The individual feels the need to validate their existence. Competition between individuals in all areas of life allows people to find specific arenas in which their talents are strongest. People learn to validate themselves by their victories over others.
Meanwhile, competition always results in losers as well as winners. Competition can lead to rivalry. Rivalry can lead to enmity. Enmity can lead to both violent and non-violent expressions as methods for extracting compensation for perceived wrongs.
Individual insecurities increase in number and degree. The individual compensates for the feeling that the self offers a reduced value to society by seeking to dominate the subjective, personal environment where it overlaps with the subjective, group, socio-cultural ethos. The internal self fails to discover that where once a unified and whole consciousness perceived and reacted, dissociation leads to a segregation of personality traits into separate, but nearly indistinguishable sub-selves, usually including: the good child, the mischief maker, the frivolous fad follower, the serious mind, the frightened, the controller, the braggart, the clown and the sage. All communication is based on language. Language arises from the collection of sounds and/or written symbols, which, when combined in intelligible patterns, comprise definable words collectible into meaningful statements concerning objects, actions, comparisons or evaluations. Language is not objective since denoted meaning can only function within the framework of connotation, inherent to the subjective mind.
Words have as many shades of meanings as there are people to interpret those words. Consequently, words only express subjective meaning and value. Words also function in as many different subjective realities as there are people to contemplate them. In this way, language devolves from a potentially explicit system of accurate communication based on codified rules of usage and specific definitions into a subjective mass of innuendo and muddled misinterpretation. Misconceptions, misunderstandings and misinterpretations abound everywhere and at all times because people interpret meaning from their own points of view while failing to perceive everyone else has a different, and equally valid, point of view. Eventually, people tune others out. The resulting social condition reflects the degree of communication within the culture as it grows cold, self-obsessed, and both unresponsive and unfeeling toward all which is other-than-self. The required conformity of all individuals to group-think is expressed through socially accepted norms.
One may wonder how much of language is innate and how much was novel invention. For instance, if twin babies were left on a deserted island (of course, I mean this only hypothetically, the babies wouldn’t survive without assistance) immediately after birth and never heard language spoken, would those babies develop their own language so they could communicate with each other? Could they think without language? Would they think in pictures or sounds, neither or both? Perhaps we can analyze whether or not language is “hard wired” into humans by trying to recall our earliest personal memories.
The earliest memories I have are from around the time when I was 18 months old. My earliest memories are wrapped in deeply personal emotions which I can call forth by remembering a particular instant in time. I call up a mental image and sense the emotions attached to it. In that way, I can feel a memory out of a wordless image. The entire experience symbolized by and communicated through one mental image.
Certainly, the cave paintings from our early ancestors must have arisen out of similarly intense feelings relating to the hunt, rites of passage, or vision quests. I would imagine cave paintings were understood by the group as emblematic of their commonly shared lives: their victories, their epic battles with great beasts, journeys, quests and origins. At the same time, representations may have depicted pre-planning for future hunt strategies or have been an account of the history of past strategy successes, useful reminders for future hunts’ activities. Whatever their precise intended meaning, it is clear the paintings were evocative representations of their daily lives while also serving the need all art serves: to capture that evocative moment, the tale that tells one’s truth, and serve it up in a way which likeminded, culturally-related people can both appreciate and understand.
In learning to coordinate the hunt, early men most certainly would have found it useful to invent meanings for particular sound utterances. Now, that kind of communication is very basic, and is likely to be common among many, perhaps most, if not all creatures who hunt in groups, packs, prides, schools, pods or what have you. However, humans have a highly advanced physical structure for facilitating a wide variety of vocalizations. Scientists suggest that was an advantage in our language development. This human-centric view of nature fails to consider that animals have many more methods for conveying meaning than verbal language. Humans have limited the species to verbal and written language for communication.
The development of verbal language made it possible for groups to work together on projects of ever-increasing complexity, build permanent homes and develop agriculture. As the life people encountered became more complex, so did their language, adapting as new conditions and situations, new materials, tasks or concepts required more from language. Language greatly facilitated invention. Later, written language made it possible to codify valuable information so others in the future could benefit from previously acquired knowledge.
It is clear the human mind is inquisitive and inventive. We know the brain contains areas of specialized function to facilitate mental activity. For example, there is a kind of heart beating in the interior center of the brain which, when combined with the firing of specialized synapses, allows the mind to divide up experience, the entire time line which is one’s life, into minute bits just big enough for the mind to make sense out of each snippet. Our memories are combinations of these snippets of time.
Those oldest memories, which I mentioned earlier, provide examples of how memory functions. Oh, I can remember the whole setting, the activity, the environment and those present who were associated with my mental picture, snapshot memories. I can call up the whole related string to form a brief story of the events and view it as a kind of mental movie. However, the emotional content lies in the one frame out of it which I can call up to remember the entire incident. It is that single snippet, not the whole movie, which can overwhelm me emotionally.
The greatest art works in this same way; it presents a unified, whole experience, encapsulated in one image. However, what is remarkable in the greatest art is how it engages the audience, forcing the audience to invest part of themselves in the work of another and fill-in some of the soft images or incomplete inferences with bits from their own memories, becoming part of the scene, part of the art, and part of the meaning. In this way, multiple members of an audience (at any given time) experience a uniquely personal, yet intensely universal, emotional rush when art is viewed.
A painting might take me back to my childhood, and to someone else perhaps a flash onto their college years could occur, while another still might become invested with something as a teen. It doesn’t matter what all the “whats or whens or wheres” may be. We need not define to ourselves, nor define to any other, those minutiae of events which call up a particular emotion. It is the emotion itself which is compelling. There is where the universality of human experience is discovered.
Humans are emotional beings every bit as much as thinkers, perhaps in some ways, more so since many of our thoughts center on our emotional states. Everyone, every single individual who ever was, is now, or ever will be, finds borne from their experiences many moments in their lifetimes when they react out of an unconscious emotional response. This is common to human experience.
Sadly, human inability to forgive one’s own foibles insidiously inveigles people to publicly castigate those in the news who happen to be caught on camera somewhere doing the same thing everyone else does, making a mistake. Remember your Shakespeare, “To err is human; to forgive, divine.” We belittle ourselves and misplace the proper focus for interjecting our conscience toward our own actions when we castigate public figures caught being human.
People desperately need to find scapegoats and martyrs in the contemporary world to bear their contemporary sins. So, they hold up public figures who succumb to the personal demons which seem to inhabit many of the highly creative and notorious from any age. We adore our celebrities because we don’t adore ourselves. Then, we punish them because we have been taught to live in denial about our own failings and to misplace our anger upon celebrity screw-ups (who probably would better integrate with society if society didn’t feel the need to snoop into every personal moment of their lives, destroying every shred of a personal life, invading their privacy, stealing so much of their personal freedom) and super-evil-enemies created by the government (from Nazis to Commies to Imperialists to Dictators to Minorities to The Drug Cartel to Terrorists to Radical Islamists to Invading Illegal Immigrants). We publicly castigate and ostracize people for slips of the tongue of similar ilk to those everyone makes from time to time. We transfer our humiliation onto the public figure; then seek to purge it from ourselves by creating a huge, politically correct/pop-think, “herd mentality” which enforces conformity to the “herd mentality” upon everyone within viewing range of a television set. Then, we castigate the public figures guilty of our sins and offer them up as human sacrifices to the Puritan God of moral outrage.
Viewed through the prism of this background, when one considers language as the basic mode of communication illuminated through the tools of the mass media, shaped by editorial philosophies which are bought and paid for by the Great Wheel of the Economy, whose ability to manipulate minds into a consensus is governed and legislated by laws enacted by governments which are comprised of politicians financed by the same Great Wheel of the Economy, one comes to the conclusion language is so easily manipulated that its use has been subverted to assist the Great Wheel of the Economy in exerting control over the minds of the broad mass of humanity so it can perpetuate itself. In that achievement, wealth guarantees its privileged position over the rest of us, ad infinitum.
It is in the brainwashing of the infant into conforming to the social structure into which it is born which initiates the enslavement of the world into nearly every single ill: poverty, famine, Climate Change, war, bigotry and crime. So, it is through language the individual must seek an avenue to assure the continued freedom and liberty of the individual to be an individual and choose one’s own life course.
Before one can define any terms or convey information on any subject, one must grapple with 1) the nature of meaning, 2) the significance of meaning and 3) the implications of meaning. Upon that foundation one next must probe: 1) the uses of language, 2) the cognitive process and 3) the relationship between language and reality.
There exist relationships between all things. Some of those relationships are harmonious while others are discordant. Meaning lies in the infinite gamut of feeling possible between the extremes of most harmonious standing in opposition to most discordant. You may wonder at my statement that meaning is feeling. Notice I did not say meaning is a feeling. There is a difference. Meaning is not one single feeling which wells up within individuals as comprehension arises within the mind. It may seem like it is the same feeling, but that might be because you only associate meaning in certain contexts, like understanding a passage in a book, or knowing what one’s significant other might be thinking in a situation. Not only are there both large and small “aha!s” depending upon the nature of the problem being solved or lesson learned, but there are also grades in between. Some understandings bring a smile and a nod, while others bring wonder and amazement; still others come with a slamming of the fist on a table and harsh words. This gamut of feelings surrounding gradations of interpreted meaning provides us with yet another example of how meaning remains at all times subjective.
Meaning is a sense within oneself which accompanies individual insight. The more one understands about any given topic, the greater will be the individual’s self-confidence, will to both act and persist, and strength of conviction in that arena. The more subjects one understands and the deeper they are perceived to be understood by an individual, the more pervasively and consistently the individual’s life will be marked by the attributes of self-confidence, will to both act and persist, and strength of conviction. So, one thing we can say about meaning is that it affects individuals when perceiving it with a sense of harmony which tends to exalt the ego, and in doing so it lends an air of authority to the individual. This sense of authority is well placed as long as the individual remembers to understand that the authority is subjective and does not vest a right to force one’s authority upon or over anyone else.
Nonetheless, all of us invest our lives with our own brand of meaning (subjective realities). Individual meaning is found in the exaltation of the ego which then breeds contempt for others who possess different interpretations of meaning. Disagreement is the beginning of conflict. It is this process of the ego clothing itself with its particular brand of meaning which leads to the inference that those who disagree have to be wrong. If the self is wrong, then the value of the self’s whole life comes into question. No, rather than investigate and analyze in order to grow through synthesis, individuals feel threatened by opposing brands of meaning and oppose those different brands vehemently.
By ridiculing, dismissing or negating those opposing brands of meaning, individuals reassert their own sense of importance and, in so doing, exalt the ego again as they validate themselves in commensurate proportion to the degree they devalue others. The process of devaluing others’ brands of meaning, belief systems or ethos eventually rises to the level of bias, bigotry, prejudice and ultimately discrimination. Again, notice the interlacing of relationships. This is the evidence that meaning is a process which leads to a feeling of general well being and purposefulness.
However, because a particular individual may have invested in some brand of meaning does not make the brand of meaning true, real or valid to anyone other than the individual who chooses to accept it. Unfortunately, once the meaning is accepted by the individual and becomes part of that individual’s belief system, the self will fight to preserve its brand of meaning over all others, no matter how illogical, vain or useless the battle may be.
It is only in the progression of the process through which meaning imparts significance. The process of meaning never concludes. Each individual is constantly interpreting new stimuli and new situations into having a meaning (specific significance) harmonious with the individual’s sense of Meaning (overall feeling of well being and purpose).
Once people learned to communicate with one another, they learned to share their perspectives on meaning and Meaning. Eventually, different groups of people gathered together to share a togetherness in particular brands of meaning. The newly found group cohesion around brands of meaning led to the rise of cultures.
Language is a system which facilitates the process called communication, but it is not a thing. Words are things. A system is a process. The function of language is to allow individuals to impart meaning. However, an additional element often unperceived lies in how language also allows individuals to analyze and interpret so one can infer one’s own meaning. The result is that neither mind perceives the same meaning, but they agree to pretend their words mean the same things to each other. So, they agree to pretend their personal meanings agree. Religions, cultures and systems of government, each of which always represses specific freedoms people ought to hold, arise out from those agreements to pretend in a common, shared interpretation of words’ meanings.
Language is comprised of words. Words have specific meanings which are codified in dictionaries. Words are also divided up into various parts of speech. These parts of speech find vitality as elements of sentences. Sentences are complete thoughts. A string of thoughts evidencing a common relationship to a particular subject comprises a paragraph.
But what, really, are ideas, concepts, subjects and thoughts? Where do they come from? Why is it I can be thinking about one thing in particular and suddenly, out of apparently nowhere, another idea pops into my head?
Different kinds of thinking exist.
One kind of thought involves a process wherein an individual concentrates on some particular subject, and then ruminates back and forth on pros and cons. This is fully conscious thought because every conscious faculty of the mind is brought to bear on the subject being contemplated and analyzed.
Another kind of thought occurs through the process of word association. That is awake thought in that one is aware of the stimulus and response; however, where the response comes from isn’t clear enough to rise to the level of being fully conscious.
Still another kind of thought presents itself in conversation, when people allow words to come out of their mouths before considering what they are saying. This is pre-conscious thought in that the utterances are responsive and related to whatever topic upon which the conversation centers. However, the conversation will continue along on its own momentum, and utterances are often made prior to (or without) one deliberating upon what one is about to say.
Still another manifestation of thought occurs when one is stuck trying to solve a problem (or with writer’s block). The stuck individual lets go of the problem, but then, at some future time, the answer comes to the individual, fully formed, without the individual ever consciously considering the matter during the interim. That is what I call supra-conscious thought because a consciousness, seemingly bigger and deeper than what the self can conceive and apparently knowing more than the self knows, keeps working on the task without conscious deliberation, but on that particular subject which the individual consciously knew they wanted to resolve. I offer that term also for the work of those creative people who, like Mozart, Michelangelo, da Vinci, Van Gogh or Shakespeare, create works of art from fully realized internalizations of what the piece of art will be.
Dreams come from a process I call deep consciousness.
I feel the need to interject a point on the discussion of types of consciousness delineated in this line of analysis. I am specifically trying to stay away from Freudian terms, and anywhere I incorporate a term Freud coined, my usage as defined in the paragraph containing it is completely different from Freud’s. In my mind, Freud saw processes used by individuals to cope with society. He misinterpreted the processes as being distinct parts of the mind. Every human mind creates coping strategies in response to the conditions in that individual’s environment. Some coping strategies are consistent with socially accepted norms. However, others are not. Freud reasoned the mind was like an onion to be peeled, and the deeper one peels away conditioning, the closer one gets to the actual individual. However, Freud failed to realize, as R. D. Laing later would, the reason some coping strategies are aberrant is not because the individual is somewhere on the neurotic to psychotic scale, but because the conditions that individual has been forced to confront were (and maybe still are), to varying degrees, neurotic to psychotic. Consequently, the individual’s response had to be correspondingly neurotic to psychotic in order to survive the situation.
We cannot cure individuals of their natural responses to the conditions in their environment, nor should we try. However, we can try to treat society for its ills so that people will not have to grow up in neurotic to psychotic conditions which imprint their commensurate response patterns onto those individuals who encounter them, thereby perpetuating the syndrome or condition.
As one can see, only portions of one’s thoughts are self-willed thoughts or thoughts consciously contemplated. What that tells us about ourselves is significant. It says we don’t know very much about our minds, our thoughts, who is doing the thinking or from where thoughts arise which we did not consciously determine to call up. It says we do not know ourselves. It says we do not even know what we are thinking all the time. It makes one realize that a kind of individual consciousness existing deeper than one’s conscious mind directs the course of one’s life.
There is no doubt most contemporary humans think with words. However, that shouldn’t always have been the case. For instance, as infants, even contemporary humans cannot think with words until after language has been learned, or so we surmise. However, babies do dream. Perhaps their dreams are comprised only of images, like a silent movie. Nonetheless, it seems almost mandatory that the dreams babies have, like our own, would have to be emotionally charged, full of comprehensible content, symbolic, and, guess what, laden with meaning. That would infer meaning can exist without language.
As we’ve seen many times over, perception is subjective. Every conscious thought process is based in individual perception. Thus, any and every meaning which any and every individual perceives or infers must also be subjective. Even our ability to communicate is subjective. What I think I am saying with my writing may not be what you think you are reading. In every denoted definition of a word lie millions of shades of connotation, yielding language, as a system of communication, lacking in objectivity.
I can imagine a number of readers who want to interject mathematics is based in and comprised of a logical and objective system of communication which leaves no room for subjectivity. The answer, after all, is the answer. Unfortunately, even numbers and mathematical calculations can be reduced to subjectivity.
You say, “1 + 1 = 2, and that is an absolute.” I respond, “1 human + 1 human may not = 2 humans. One may kill the other and you only have one left. Or, one may impregnate the other, so soon you have 3, or more.” You say, “At the moment you added the one human to the other one human, you had two, and only through intervening activity was two either reduced to one or increased to more.” I smile and say, “Where is there an indication in the equation that represents the time factor demanding the answer be relevant to right at the moment you counted? It doesn’t exist.” My point is, sometimes things are not what they seem, even with regard to mathematics.
Let me also point out the irrationality in negative numbers. Mathematics’ irrationality is compounded by engaging in calculations which include negative numbers. There is no such thing as negative two. It is a concept which does not exist anywhere but in the fancy of subjective contemplation and analysis. If I possess 2 or more apples, one may subtract two apples from my collection. However, no one could ever add negative two apples to my collection if my collection was less than two.
I would like to point out yet another irrationality existing in mathematical calculations denoting concepts such as time or size when the fraction being considered is less than an amount perceivable to any human. Scientists enjoy ruminating on what the universe may have been like at 1 second to the -47 power (a decimal point, 47 zeros followed by a one). This is an absurd rumination which can never be fathomed and offers no real world significance to humanity.
“What about the measurement of distance between places? Surely that must be a constant,” you may interject. “No, it isn’t,” I respond.
The continents are drifting about on the surface of the planet at every moment. For instance, South America and Africa were at one time attached. India broke off from Madagascar and rammed into the Asian continent, in the process building the Himalayas as some of India’s land mass slid atop Asia. The African and European continents together with the Arabian Peninsula are all moving towards one another and eventually will create a new mountain range where the Mediterranean Sea presently exists. The islands in the Pacific Ocean are moving west, across the Pacific toward Asia. As islands reach the Far East, they encounter the deep trench which is situated at the meeting place for two tectonic plates. The islands will submerge into the sea as they drift to their ultimate fate – sinking beneath the tectonic plate upon which Asia rests. Thus, they force the land to rise above where they sink as they move deeper into Asia, building new mountains on the continent. This movement occurs at the rate of about 3 inches a year. So, the distance from Hawaii to the Asian continent is not the same from day to day, reducing itself imperceptibly, at the rate of 3 inches per year.
The very knowledge upon which we base our understanding of the cosmos is in constant evolution, like nature itself. At one time, humans accepted the principle of gravity as explained by Isaac Newton. The need for greater explanations had not yet arisen. However, Einstein ushered in a new world, a new universe with new phenomena, invention of a new weapon to cause death, and an entirely new conception for humanity regarding its place in the Universe.
While Einstein’s discoveries have not been disproved by recent scientific discoveries, science has rushed in to fill some gaps and built upon Einstein’s work in ways he could not foresee. In other words, that which humans had known and accepted as fact for centuries turned out to be, in the case of gravity, only partially true, but at the same time, wholly wrong in terms of how gravity operates, and present scientific knowledge renders even Einstein’s understanding of the universe somewhat faulty.
Two of the broad categories into which people can classify knowledge are: theoretical knowledge and practical knowledge. People see knowledge as standing for something true or factual in either case. However, as we have seen with regard to gravity, previously held “knowledge” regarding gravity turned out to be incorrect. Hence, applying the term knowledge to something does not denote the truth or accuracy of the material which is being classified as knowledge. Rather, it need only be commonly accepted as true or factual in order to be considered knowledge.
Socrates, realizing this conundrum, suggested knowledge must not only be true and be believed as true by the people aware of its alleged basis as true or factual, but for any idea to qualify as knowledge requires that there be a reason or justification for that belief. The measure of justification necessary for a belief to qualify as knowledge asserts that the idea must be an absolute certainty. Anything less merely yields either a probable or possible opinion.
In the 1960s, Edmund Gettier heaped another condition upon knowledge. He suggested that in some situations, justifications for a belief still do not render the belief as knowledge because either an improper or false method or manner of justification may have been employed. Others have written of reducing knowledge into rational beliefs. My perspective is that knowledge is what group consensus subjectively asserts as being true at any given moment. Thus, all knowledge remains as subjective as our minds and perceptions.
We know some ideas held as knowledge at one time were later shown to be inaccurate. So, we can accept some ideas held out as knowledge, even today, will eventually be determined as not being actual or true facts. If humanity can believe in the factual basis of some fallacies held currently as being knowledge, it stands to reason that there are at least some matters of fact and truth which are not accepted as knowledge. Nonetheless, they would still exist and qualify as not-yet-known knowledge. This arrow of knowledge exhibits a flow. The flow is evolution. See, even knowledge evolves indicating its process orientation.
For instance, the world was always spherical, even during the years when Europeans thought the world was flat. The Earth revolved around the Sun even during the era when people believed the Sun, and all heavenly bodies, revolved around the Earth. This allows us to remember that true knowledge will continue to exist whether or not it is repressed, denied, or not yet discovered or known. History suggests true knowledge will always find a way to well up distinctly in the faces of subjective disbelief and self-serving opinion.
Another distinction in knowledge arises when we consider the differences between propositional knowledge and procedural knowledge. For instance, one may read a book on how to build a canoe. That information qualifies as propositional knowledge. Procedural knowledge exists when propositional knowledge is put into practical use, in our case, when the individual who read the book on building a canoe actually finishes building one.
Yet another distinction in classes of knowledge exists between a priori knowledge and a posteriori knowledge. Knowledge gained or justified by reason alone, without direct or indirect experience, and which, therefore, existed prior to its having been discovered is called a priori knowledge. This is an abstract kind of knowledge, and a couple of examples are logic and math. Knowledge gained as a result of experience is called a posteriori knowledge. This should be obvious, but as an example, let me offer that when you stub your toe, you feel pain, so the knowledge that when you stub your toe you will feel pain is classified as a posteriori knowledge. Another example is knowledge gained because of invention. There was a time when an individual had never been timed running a mile, and in fact when the ability to time anything was not possessed by humanity, consequently, the a priori knowledge that a man could run a mile in less than four minutes was not present. However, once both the device for timing activities had been invented and a man had actually broken the barrier and run a mile in less than four minutes, a posteriori knowledge that a man could run a mile in less than four minutes was obtained.
David Hume denied the validity of abstract knowledge, claiming it isn’t real knowledge. While I can understand the ideas underlying his premise, I think Hume is too sweeping and too general in that assessment. After all, contemporary physics, astrophysics and particle physics are all based on abstract knowledge. Surprisingly enough, the calculations of astrophysicists allow humans to get rocket ships to far-away places with a high degree of accuracy just as particle physicists can divide atoms in a manner which releases a destructive nuclear explosion or usable energy for cities’ grids. So, we cannot deny abstract or analytical knowledge offers real world evidence of its truth. Hence, there must be some kernels of truth to much of humanities’ accumulated abstract knowledge (including The Big Bang).
At the beginning of the 20th Century, Bertrand Russell and G.E. Moore led a movement which rejected the idealist treatment of mathematics which was based on the work of Gottfried Leibnitz. Essentially, they found that Leibnitz’ doctrine of internal relations, his idea of monistic metaphysics and his theory of truth had to all be rejected. For Russell, this unleashed a kind of rabid affinity for a realism in which objects, subjects, material particles, the mind, ideas, numbers, universals, just about anything and everything, including non-real things, simply because they could be named were all vested with reality. However, as time wore on Russell, he subjected his version of reality to reinterpretation. Ultimately, the mature philosophy of Russell yielded a hierarchy of levels of knowledge. Some things could be proven, so they were known knowledge or, as he classified it, a priori verified knowledge. Other things were personally experienced, consequently, they qualified as sensory verifiable knowledge (but this was a lower class because it was only verifiable to the individual who had experienced that sensation. Beyond this were additional classes of knowledge, each of a lower order, things whicih seemed logically to be highly probable, and along the way came a class of knowledge that was less likely, but reasonable to infer because it was acceptable to a vast majority of individuals, and again, this was based on logic and sensation among other traits.
The problem with this process of ordering knowledge lies in two areas. First, it lies in a contradiction within Russell’s own system. He refused to accept the notion of God as a reliable concept, yet it was and remains a concept which is believed by an overwhelming majority of people and in a large number of cases because of events which believers accept as verifiable sensation and consistently verifiable results (whether or not their reliability can be accepted). Russell preferred the more highly scientific version for explaining existence which was based in a sounder logic and possessed a high mathematical verifiability. What we see here is that Russell’s system maintained a highly subjective point of view. When he disagreed with the vast majority, he felt the need to assert his own criteria to define what constituted the greater verifiability of something actually unverifiable as being knowledge anyway. This kind of last resort smacks of the Aristotelian concept that benevolent philosopher-kings would provide the best governors and the best system of governing. That was an elitist concept which, as we know from the historically verifiable concept that power corrupts, would end up leading to a corrupt government.
It’s easy to imagine that at some point, philosopher-kings would see themselves as being essentially superior to all others, and hence more worthy. Thus, they would allot to themselves a greater proportion of societal wealth. From that subjugation of the fairness principle inherent in the benevolence factor within the system we witness devolution into greed where schisms create classes. In the same way, in Russell’s contradiction, he places his own subjective valuation above pure logic and imposes his own authority and his own opinion of how to value the unverifiable into grades of acceptable knowledge.
I just have to say, his desire to prove an objective reality exists, which is based on scientific realism, and which denies the existence of God, falls apart because of his inability to see the subjectivity in his own mind constructing the hierarchies of what constitutes knowledge. This is why I completely reject his theory of scientific realism. I replace it by accepting that no objective reality exists, hence, there is no verifiable knowledge. All which really exists are subjective realities and subjective truths and subjective knowledge. I then suggest that everyone is free to accept the subjective reality of their choice. The lack of an objective reality puts an end to the theory of God quite naturally as I have consistently shown throughout this essay. Simultaneously, I am free to assert my own predilection for scientific realism as far as logic dictates its acceptance because of, and only in, those areas where one cannot argue against it as earlier suggested: you cannot argue away the rent collector or the cash register clerk’s demands for payment at the supermarket; and similarly, you cannot argue away gravity, the speed of light and a host of other specific scientific realities.
Humanity accepts the world exists the way we agree to perceive it as being a true and undeniable fact. This kind of acceptance in what we perceive is called foundational knowledge, meaning it requires no justification (this is the basis upon which I apply much of scientific realism without subscribing to it). However, those who do not require a justification fail to consider that everything about the world they perceive is in a constant state of change. Thus, the actual foundation upon which foundational knowledge sits is also constantly in a state of flux (and I can easily incorporate this state of affairs through my subjective approach).
Change is the order of the Universe. Nothing is static. Without a constant and consistent foundation, foundational knowledge is as susceptible to erosion as is the physical world. That realization yields the understanding that foundational knowledge is more appropriately categorized as being “probable opinion.”
Consider for a moment how one’s mind seems to exist in an ever-present-now which constantly eludes one. In that perception, the ever-present-now can be considered as really being never-present. Likewise, our minds are also constantly evolving. Am I the same me I was when I was three years old? Will I be the same me in 20 years? The answer to both is no. We change. Yet, I accept myself today as being the same me who lived all those years ago. I even seem to think with the same inner voice, of about the same age and with an apparently startlingly similar degree of analytical skills, the only difference being I have gained more experience upon which to conduct analyses.
We are not static beings, despite the illusion of sameness which our minds create for our own sense of security and coherence. Face it, if most people realized they are always becoming a new them, that they are in a constant state of transition from one moment to the next, the self one knew each moment dying to become a new you for an instant, only to constantly die and be reborn from millisecond to millisecond, people would be even more insecure and alienated (even from the self!). They would likely attempt to exert a commensurately more controlling influence on their immediate environment as well unless and until they developed a sufficient degree of self-sufficiency and lost the need to persist throughout eternity as if they were gods themselves!
This is the kind of world in which we ask language to function, allowing us to describe our subjective realities and exchange knowledge and information. Language cannot describe an objective reality because 1) humans perceive the world and render that world subjective in the process, and 2) language is a tool with an inherently subjective nature which renders whatever may have been remotely close to objective truths into deeper catacombs of subjectivity when converted into words. Language can be said to function in as many subjective realities as there exist now, ever have existed and ever will exist, people on the planet. Thus, language fell short of becoming a potentially explicit system for accurately transferring information into an implicit system of misconceptions, misinterpretations and misunderstandings which arise out of ill-defined illusions of empirical connotations.
I inquire, “How are you?” You respond, “Fine.” Now, what does “fine” mean that day and to the person uttering the response? Maybe it means, “Don’t bother me; I haven’t got time to talk.” Then again, it could mean, “I could be a lot worse, so all in all, I’m pretty chipper.” However, another intended meaning might be, “I’m not thrilled about my day, but I’m not in pain and not suffering from any ailments.”
A problem arises from this kind of inconsequential treatment of one another through condescending and ill-defined uses of language. Eventually, people will cease to care what the response is to any question. People will become self-obsessed. The society arising out of that climate will be utterly unfeeling and uncaring. Society will cease to respond to the needs of the individual and require all to conform to socially accepted norms. That description sounds rather like contemporary society, doesn’t it? It should, though it wasn’t intended to be, the description does apply to the contemporary world.
We do not know much about how oral languages developed, or even when they developed. Physical anthropologists, linguists and other academics provide educated guesses on those questions, but that is all they can offer, educated guesses.
More insight can be gleaned from studying the written history of language. For instance, the first recorded written languages were as much picture-symbol as word. This is evidenced from the earliest records of writing: cuneiform and Egyptian hieroglyphs and many Mesoamerican pictograph/symbol writing formats. Anthropologists tell us the pictures/symbols stood for words. They reasoned this out because they were able to use the Rosetta stone in translating Egyptian hieroglyphs and Babylonian cuneiform into Greek words.
Maybe that interpretation is the result of contemporary minds seeing what they want to see. It is just as possible that the picture-like symbols used in Egyptian hieroglyphs were more like the mental snippets I mentioned earlier, representations of fuller ideas or experiences which the Greeks rendered into their own tongue as best they could. But either way, we know the pictures/symbols were tools used for communication.
I would strongly suggest that thought is endemic to minds, all minds. The human-centric view of nature prevalent in the contemporary scientific community leads us to a viewpoint in which we invest in beliefs such as: only humans are special, only we think with complex thoughts, and that language, if not unique to humanity, certainly rises far above the level of the other life forms on our planet. I strongly contest that point of view and hope that the scientists conducting research into other life forms will soon find greater depth of insight into and understanding for those other life forms which might allow them to penetrate the veneer of their language systems. I mean, really, if we want to have a chance to get down to the funky truths contained in whatever bits of objective reality humanity might hope to grasp, the first thing people must do is lose their superiority complex vis-à-vis all other life on the planet.
Whether or not other animals have language, we know animals communicate and humans originated our systems for communication early in our development. One can imagine how the need for language arose. People needed to be able to coordinate their efforts in a hunt; they needed to be able to develop deeper relationships with one another. Those needs probably led to the introduction of specific meaning being applied to specific grunts and other sounds.
In all likelihood, the first thoughts came to early humans in the form of pictures or images which carried great emotional content. That emotional content created another need, the need to share our inner thoughts with our counterparts. As language developed, individuals would naturally have begun to invent new concepts out of the substance of their dreams and imagination. Later, people gathered together in larger communities to work the land and husband livestock. Those endeavors led to a further increase in vocabulary to match the flood of concepts which arose in those fertile, early minds.
Now, when written language was limited to pictograph kinds of images like hieroglyphs, ambiguity was both implicit and yet potentially avoided. Individuals needed an understanding of their, and other local, clans’ systems of symbolism, in concert with a knowledge of one’s place in the lineage’s history, living conditions, and the means to succeed, in order to interpret the symbols and communicate. Luckily for them, their focus was small, their needs few, and their horizons open to exploration.
However, a sense of the spiritual developed out from the mysteries of nature. They must have imagined gods and goddesses invaded their minds at night and fed them the imagery of dreamscapes. They couldn’t explain how they might think of something new; they’d just suddenly be sparked by an idea from out of nowhere. What else could that be but a gift from some benevolent god or goddess which was planted within his or her mind by the deity?
Superstition, once finding a foothold, will always inveigle its way into permeating the being it inhabits. However, nature worship is basically harmless. Rather, love for the natural landscape and the beautiful diversity Mother Nature offers can only be good for the individual, the group and the planet as a whole. Nature rites are rich in a symbolism which remains both reverential and, at the same time, whimsical and otherworldly. The earliest rites celebrated the bounty available to them, stretching out everywhere early humanity might look.
So, from the earliest moments of existence, people must have thought and dreamed in sounds and pictures. I would suggest, the further one goes back into our human ancestry, one would find the other senses (smell, taste and touch) also incorporated into the mind’s communication with itself. One effect of the resulting inner turmoil regarding one’s receipt of such mental messages likely led to the need to talk to others. So, verbal language was invented. As verbal language began to dominate human communications with one another, people would have found they thought increasingly through words, but they still dreamed in pictures. Sometimes words and other sounds, yes even other senses, might have become incorporated into the human dreamscape. Out of this rich tapestry of symbolism, the first cave art probably found expression.
Something else arose from those cave artists/shamans; that something else was a sense of story, location and social status. Eventually, story, location and social status would have been transformed into convention and obedience. Out of this mix arose: 1) a segregation of the clan members into classes, 2) by position, 3) establishing an entitlement to respect among those in higher castes and 4) acceptance of one’s place in the sociological order of the group. In this way, conformity was born into human societies.
Linguists and analytical philosophers want you to consider so many angles of language that the pursuit becomes a metaphor for contemporary life. Can you see what they don’t? Do you grasp how their subjective biases render all their approaches meaningless to anyone but themselves? Can you grasp that all reality is subjective? If so, you know all those alleyways they want to travel down are nothing more than mental masturbation (their own answers for themselves), but no more objective truths than those beliefs they seek to depose. It is time to recognize that everything valuable which can be gained from life arises as part of a process, not as some end to reach, nor as some goal to be achieved. This is the path to shed the shackles of convention.
If anything, the study of language, like the study of imagery, symbolism and interpersonal relationships, is a study of the dialectic described by Hegel. While philosophical purists and ideological elitists want you to find language as the house of your being, I beg you to liberate yourselves from the insidious mass mentality which strangles symbolic magic with a cacophony of subjective realities.
Heidegger said language is centered upon speech (talking, listening, and silence). I say language arises from those flash point memories I mentioned earlier, the one frame out of an experience which symbolically captures the emotional content of an entire experience. This understanding led me to the most basic of realizations: the only Universal Truths to be uncovered reside in our emotions.
Our emotions are what make us feel vital and enliven life with a value beyond the moments lived. The experience of emotions, and the need to share and express emotions, provided people with a most urgent need for devising communication systems and techniques for imparting our sense of ourselves to our neighbors. The only real value in life lies in the depth and richness of our experience of our emotions: all of them, both pleasant and unpleasant, because indeed, in every instance they are two sides of the same coin.
Emotions express how humans deal with the duality present in every moment of our lives. Emotions tie us, bind us, lift us, depress us, and fulfill us – each of which makes us feel alive. One emotion stands above all others, and that emotion is Love. Is there anything that can ever fulfill you more than you felt fulfilled in the moments when you felt completely and unconditionally loved for yourself as you are at the same instant as you completely and unconditionally loved that other individual for who they are? Love is the most universal of emotions, and as such, it is also the most basic emotion to all life.
Love is not a thing, a place, a state or even a mindset. Love is a way of being. Love is a process, not an end. Love is living. Love is free. One cannot long live if one does not perceive one is loved. Love, in every expression possible, affirms life and affirms harmony (both inner and with the outer world). Love is literally the fire within and without, inspiration and exchange.
As a final thought on the subject of language, let me stress, I think meaning is always interpretive and, hence, subjective. Since meaning will always be subjective, it is impossible for language to ever convey the objectivity necessary to capture Universal Truths.
The beauty of language is its ability to aid the individual in interpreting one’s own reality to oneself since it subjectively assists in the subjective analysis which leads to a very natural, subjective interpretation. Every subjective point of view is equally valid in a world without objectivity. The suggestion the each subjective point of view is equally valid provides the most basic offering of proof for the equality of all people. If all subjective realities are equally valid, all people must also be equally valid since subjective realities are nothing more than the representations and expressions of individual people. Now, since all people are equally valid – meaning they must be equal partners with every other individual in the society, culture, nation, religious/spiritual assembly, political system, economy, and all other arenas – no one person is entitled to a larger share of life’s bounty than anyone else. This is a principle of understanding which everyone must come to on their own and in their own time. However, it is inevitable humanity will, some far off day in the future – if we can just survive long enough to see that day.
The understanding derived here infers that each individual bases their own life on their own subjective truths, all of which exist to fulfill one purpose, and that is to express and receive Love. Language used for any other purpose becomes debased and devolved from being a facilitator of Universal Principles into a subjective seduction away from the value inherent in life.
It is useful to consider at this point that conflict between individuals who harbor mutually exclusive truths will be the natural byproduct of their interaction. The only way to overcome the natural conflict which will arise between competing, mutually exclusive, belief systems is to recognize that all belief systems are equally valid and invalid since they are all equally subjective. Each is valid to the individuals who hold to the particular belief system because they hold it; it’s their subjective truth. Intense investment in a particular belief creates the validity of the belief in the mind of those individuals. However, as subjective perceivers, humans cannot now approximate, and will never be able to approximate, whatever it is which signifies objective reality.
There lies the paradox: 1) Individuals cannot perceive Objectivity because to perceive it renders whatever was objective as being altered into a unique Subjectivity (subjective reality); 2) each unique subjective perception is equally true to each individual beholder who chooses to believe in their Subjectivity (the self’s version of perceived reality); 3) over Time, humans have chosen to accept commonly shared, faith-based belief systems locally practiced; 4) most of the faith based belief systems have similar mystical and miraculous gods, goddesses, satori, Nirvana, Shangri-La, God, YHVH, Allah, heaven, and/or hell, yet, 5) each wants to stamp the other out, harboring ancient enmities among one another. The perpetuation of ancient cycles of violence for the alleged purpose of protecting and defending one’s own avowed faith of Peace and Love (and that is what each claims to profess) is apparently so oxymoronic no one can see the intrinsic irrationality within the practice.
From such a perspective, people should find it would, at the very least, be far more expedient to get along and to intermingle with others who possess divergent belief systems. If no one should say, “I’m right,” then no one else need be wrong. This is the path to acceptance, not though some kind of snobbish tolerance which demeans others for their different beliefs and seeks to convert them to “the true way;” but in a true acceptance which understands no one really knows anything for sure, so anyone could be right: you as easily as I.
In this kind of exchange of mutual acceptance and respect, one is free to continue with one’s chosen belief system unhindered and free of mockery or danger simply because the belief system makes the individual happy. At the same time all others would be just as free to entertain completely different sets of beliefs. This is how Understanding arises out from Acceptance.
Following quickly on the heels of Understanding is Cooperation. Cooperation is the living symbol of Unity. Love and Unity operate upon Multiplicity through Cooperation. Competition, being the opposite of cooperation, divides Multiplicity into differences, negates the effects of Love and debases Unity.
Language has another quality: it expresses a linear view of events. Not only do we perceive up and down, left and right, behind and ahead, and here; but we also perceive yesterday, tomorrow, and now. Science tells us that every living thing on earth has a mechanism within it which allows the life form to perceive four dimensionally, just like we do.
Spacetime stretches in four known perceivable dimensions. I want to tread carefully here, remembering that theoretical physicists estimate spacetime may exist in as many as 10, 11, 12 or perhaps even more dimensions (they aren’t in complete agreement on this yet). However, what they can theorize using abstract knowledge (mathematics as developed for string theory) are realms of existence we do not perceive. Our lack of perceptive ability does not rule out the possibility, however, that these other realms might exist. I have often found it interesting to correlate these dimensions with the Kabbalistic Tree of Life which reveals 10 spheres, Da’ath, the hidden sphere (11), Ain (12), Ain Soph (13), and Ain Soph Aur (14) (although some people consider Ain, Ain Soph and Ain Soph Aur as being one interrelated sphere, leaving us at 12) with the number of dimensions of spacetime suggested by science. It seems in every way imaginable, Nature and the Universe create pairs-of-opposites, often allowing for an infinite scale of gradations between the opposites: matter and dark matter, energy and dark energy, light and dark, potential energy and kinetic energy, sound and silence, love and hate, peace and war, and life and death. So I suggest, in addition to up and down (1, 2), left and right (3, 4), behind and forward (5, 6), and here (7), there has to be a not/never-here (8), just as for now (9), there must also be a not/never-now (10); for gravity (11), there has to be a no/none-gravity (12); and for electromagnetism (13), there must be a corresponding uncharged/free-movement (14).
Some scientific discoveries elucidate my point in a quite fascinating manner. In an attempt to learn more about the properties of light and subatomic particles, an experiment was conducted allowing a photon (a minute and fundamental element of light) to take one of two routes in order to pass from one chamber to another. The result was a startling conclusion. The photon took both paths into the other chamber! That phenomenon led me to consider photons as existing everywhere at the same time. This suggestion is not accepted (nor has it apparently ever been considered) by scientists.
Allow me to explain my idea.
Particles’ movement at the speed of light suggests to me they do not move through time, but only through space. If I am correct, photons would not move in the duality of now-not/never-now part of here-not/never-here spacetime. It is my impression that photons transcend time, but not space. I freely admit I do not possess the mathematical capabilities to work out my theory. However, I base it on my own deductively reasoned extrapolation of verbal language used to describe Einstein’s theories.
Einstein explained that space and time are not separate but are a unified whole. Einstein said that everything moves through time. However, movement through time is slowed by a corresponding movement through space. If I am stationary in location, all my movement occurs through time. However, as I move through space, my movement through time is slowed as it is correspondingly transferred to motion through space. Einstein also told us that movement of matter through space at the speed of light converts matter into energy and that nothing can move faster than the speed of light.
It seems logical to me, then, to deduce that once light speed is reached, all motion is converted from through time to through space. If I am correct in this assumption, then movement at light speed causes the energy (remember, it’s no longer matter when traveling at light speed) to transcend time. If all of the motion is through space, none of the motion could be through time based on my interpretation of Einstein’s work.
If energy transcends time, it must occupy all space. You see, if all motion is through space and none through time, then energy not only can but would travel everywhere in space without ever moving through time. Every energy particle, thus described, could be said to be everywhere at all moments. This would be the natural state of anything moving at light speed – it would transcend spacetime, becoming always and everywhere instead of located in a specific place at a specific moment. As far as I can fathom from my research, scientists have never investigated this concept. They haven’t studied whether things traveling at the speed of light transcend spacetime in a manner allowing them to be everywhere-always. If I am correct, my theory could also harmonize Einstein’s General and Special Theories of Relativity with the laws of quantum physics.
João Magueijo is a Portuguese cosmologist who posits a whole different theory based on the idea that the speed of light hasn’t always the same constant speed we calculate it as being today, that light traveled at a different speed earlier in the history of the formation of the universe. His theory is actually close to mine in some ways but diverges in others.
My understanding is that the speed of light and the movement of time are relative to that which perceives them. Humans, who exist in spacetime, perceive that light travels at a specific rate in relation to our perspective. That perspective relies on our specific position in space at this particular time.
Allow me to provide a deeper insight into what we know about Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. A thing’s movement through space affects its corresponding movement through time. Matter exists in spacetime, so it moves through both space and time. The motion of matter through space slows its motion through time commensurately. In applying this information to a photon, consider that 1) a photon is not matter, therefore not necessarily subject to Einstein’s equations (but is more appropriately governed by the laws of quantum mechanics), which 2) moves at the speed of light.
João faced a dilemma when he discovered that light particles in areas as divergent as in opposite ends of the universe, some 27.4 billion light years distant from one another, share certain signatures which they otherwise could not share unless they had been in close proximity at the moment of the Big Bang. But how could things essentially 27.4 billion light years apart have been near one another and still have traveled at the constant speed of light given that the universe is only 13.7 billion light years old? There wasn’t enough time for the light particles so closely related to have traveled so far apart. João reasoned that the speed of light had to have been faster in the early universe.
If I had the opportunity to converse with João, I would like to suggest a potential reason for why light might have traveled faster during the early moments of the universe. Perhaps space was expanding at an accelerated rate compared to the contemporary rate of spacial expansion.
Think of it this way. If I am on a car moving at 65 miles per hour traveling on a stationary road, my rate of speed as noted by an observer would be calculated as being 65 miles per hour. However, if the road is a kind of conveyer belt road which travels as well, the road will carry me along with it at its rate, and logically that would increase my rate of speed by the speed of the moving conveyer-belt-road. However, my speedometer would still read 65 miles per hour because it would calculate the speed of the car based on its speed on the road, never adding in the additional speed of the road’s movement. Now, an observer situated on the road would still see me as traveling at 65 miles per hour because that observer would be carried along with the conveyer-belt-road at its speed, never noticing the movement of the road. However, if the observer is standing beside the conveyer-belt-road and is stationary, the observer would see me moving at a rate faster than 65 miles per hour in incremental proportion to the speed of the moving conveyer-belt-road. In such an instance, I could maintain a constant speed of 65 miles per hour and still be traveling at a rate of speed faster than 65 miles per hour.
However, I see the dilemma in different terms. Consider that João is still describing the universe from a perception within the spacetime continuum. He is trying to reconcile the motion of primordial light photons from the perspective of a human. The only answer one could arrive upon from that perspective (a perspective which does not divorce a photon from being regulated by time) is that time had to move at different speeds relative to human perception.
My perspective is that, it’s not so much that light traveled faster, allowing light particles with similar signatures to be at opposite ends of the universe. No, I believe the effect occurs because by traveling at the speed of light, they do not travel through time, all their motion is through space. This places all particles or waves (anything that travels at the speed of light) as existing everywhere in space at every moment of time to anything which perceives time, simultaneously – or said slightly differently: energy is timeless, energy is everywhere, and energy and its constituent particles are at all times everywhere in space throughout all time. That is how I account for the similarity in signatures for the particles.
It would be the same for every constituent element and particle of energy (stuff not manifesting as matter) which also moves at the speed of light. Again, traveling at the speed of light in my theory indicates the particles would transcend time, which would place the particles or elements of energy everywhere-always. I believe this phenomenon accounts for electrons’ strange behaviors and provides the clue into how scientists can harmonize quantum physics with cosmology.
Next, consider that we experience darkness at night. You might ask, “How can this be if photons are everywhere at once?” Well, I must modify my deduction. Let us assume light (and the photons comprising it) constantly emanates from a source (the Sun) outward in all directions. This indicates that all light sources emit light in the form of pure energy. A source of light, like a star, emits a constant stream of light in the form of energy waves. Stars produce the widest spectrum of energy waves and spew them out in every direction in a constant, steady stream. So, the planets and moons within our solar system are swimming in a sea of energy waves emitted by the Sun. However, those waves, to be a constant sea, must be constantly moving out, away from the source. Apparently, photons can only be viewed when traveling toward one’s planet and when the portion of the planet one is situated upon is facing the light source, because at night, when the sea of light is moving away from the point of view (or perceptual awareness) of the site where one is situated on one’s planet, photons do not interact with the planet’s atmosphere to create visible light on portions of the planet facing away from the star: the sea of light becomes invisible when moving away from the perceiver and blocked by impeding physical objects through which light cannot travel.
To understand light in those terms is irrational from the point of view of a physical realist. In that sense, light makes a mockery of the intelligent design/designer myth. However, the manner in which light manifests is fortuitous, since life as we know it could not have arisen if the properties of light, as we receive it from our Sun, were altered in any way. Actually, what occurs is that the physical presence of the Earth blocks the light particles when an area is facing away from the Sun. It is that impediment which causes the phenomenon of night.
Light can’t accurately be described as moving in a particular frame of reference because it’s speed is constant, no matter what direction you may be moving or how fast. One cannot gain ground on light if one tries to chase it, no matter where one is located or what direction one travels in, it is always moving away at light speed. Confusing, right? Yeah, and it’s frustrating, too.
Light is a paradox. It’s constantly there, but it is always moving away from you at light speed. If you are situated in a place on your planet which faces a source of light, you see it. However, when you are situated in a place on your planet which faces away, you do not see it. Light is a steady and constant sea of energy which emanates from the Sun and which flows in an apparently constant stream. That light stream ceases to be present during the night. Now go ahead, tell me we live in an intelligently designed, objective reality. Yet, as I love to remember, while the properties of light certainly are irrational, they also exhibit awesome beauty.
Motion is only noticed in terms of subjective perspective. Time is a calculation conducted within and experienced by the brain. The thread of one’s existence, from then to now and will be, is mapped out by the brain as its internal metronome beats constantly, creating time at its own pace and from its own perspective. As each new instant is recorded, one’s brain remaps its neural network into a completely new order – a new self is born every millisecond of what one perceives to be one long, connected lifetime which one calls oneself. The moments are not the individual. The moments are snapshots of one’s emotional experiences. The snapshots are not the individual either, but they describe the individual under various sets of circumstances delineated by experience.
However, consider that motion offers enigmatic considerations as well. If one travels on a jet airliner, one is traveling through the air at a few hundred miles per hour. A passenger sits in a chair with their molecules moving through the atmosphere at the same speed as the airliner. Now, we all know that none of us can walk faster than a jet can fly. However, a person can get up out of their seat, and walk along the aisle. If one is walking toward the cockpit, one would, in actuality be moving faster through the atmosphere than the plane by the amount of speed one generates walking in the aisle. This seems irrational and impossible when thought of in these terms. Yet, to get up and actually walk to the bathroom and back to one’s seat seems utterly rational while doing it.
We are the sum of our emotional experiences. One’s own expressions and internalizations are the only emotional experiences one can consider real. In plainer language, you are the love you express and feel, the anger you express and feel, the sadness you express and feel, and the same with every other emotion. Here is the key to superseding the necessity for conformity to “herd mentality” and “herd morality.”
It is in our own self interest to be a loving and kind person, to be happy, and to share our greatest bounties with one another. If we teach this and act in accordance, we shall not only spread more love, but receive more as well. This is the purpose of life, not to earn more money, buy expensive toys, or accomplish any personal goal. Subjective meaning is found within one’s quality of life. The quality of one’s life is defined by the emotional content, the rich tapestry of emotional experience which draws people together and lifts their spirits. The arrow of time is how our minds organize the thread of experience. We don’t file alphabetically; instead, we use a chronological sorting method. One of the most fascinating possibilities arising from that understanding is that the inner clocks of every living thing might remain relatively in tune with one another. Organisms exhibit different metabolic rates. Hummingbirds’ wings and bees’ wings, for instance, move at speeds so fast, human eyes cannot see the motion. I suggest organisms with faster metabolic rates than humans must perceive time at a much faster rate than we do as well. The consequence might seem to make their perceptions of their lifespan possibly correspond in length to how long a human lifespan seems to us in a general way. However, for instance, if one year in a dog’s life is the equivalent of seven years to a human, would one day to a dog is perceived as an equivalent time period to our perception of a week. It's hard to say that. No one knows. They do sleep multiple times in a day though.
Is time real or is it just another manifestation from our subjective minds? Certainly, time is subjectively real to the individual who subjectively decides to accept their perception of time as being a real perception of a real dimension. Scientists tell us that all animals have similar beating cores in their brains to assist them to perceive the arrow of time as humans possess. Scientists believe that trees and other plants have an internal mechanism allowing them to perceive the passage of time as well and even tell us that microbes have a built in mechanism allowing them to perceive time’s passage.
The planets rotate around the Sun in an orderly, clock-like manner. The constellations move across our night skies with the same clock-like precision revealed by the planets’ orbits around the Sun. Birds know when to migrate as well as where their specific destination is located, and salmon return to their birth places to spawn a new generation every year. Grunions have an internal clock which lets them know the phases of the moon so they can properly coordinate their spawning on their home beaches. Even coral possess an internal clock which encourages them to release their eggs in conjunction with inseminating fluid from their local partner coral. The more one studies nature, the more one sees how time plays a critical role in every facet of life for every living organism; and one commensurately notices that creatures of all types grok the ticking of their internal, nature-attuned clocks facilitating responses according to the needs of the moment.
Remembering how observation renders what was objective into a subjective interpretation, I will step out on a limb and say what scientists say, time (moment) and space (place) are phenomena which are also apparently commonly perceived by all living organisms. So, it would at least seem that the arrow of time is as intrinsically interwoven into the universe as is space. The two, as Einstein taught us, are two properties of one condition – spacetime. I am not going to argue that my theory poses as a peek into objective reality; however, I do allow that spacetime is a condition which intersects every individual, subjective perceiver of reality so similarly that it becomes pointless to seek either a proof or denial of a condition which is inescapable except by death anyway.
Spacetime must exist for us to exist. We are born into our environment as Sartre explained. The environment begins with spacetime, the laws of physics, evolutionary natural selection, and the conditions on the planet. After that, the state of whatever civilization one is born into becomes the next most primary influence limiting self-determination. The laws of physics are things humans can’t alter, so we may as well accept them. The clarity of evolutionary natural selection so well describes all the evidence of life’s progress on our planet, that to dispute it is to play the ostrich. However, to certain degrees we do alter both the climate and the landscape.
You can’t really believe that you are reaching your highest potential if all you are doing is consuming voraciously, creating massive amounts of waste while hoping to make a few quick bucks off your latest stock purchase, can you? Is amassing wealth, property and possessions your highest calling? Does that give your life meaning? I can’t imagine it does, but I know how easy it is to drown your fears, insecurities and questions by going into debt for some new, shiny toy. That’s a sweet tooth, folks. It’s desire. It’s indulgence. And after the rush comes the fall with the attendant monthly payments and accrued interest. So, you go to work every day, clock in and do the hours to pay for it all. Your boss wants more production. The marketplace is shrinking. You are stressed to the max. Is the impending heart attack, divorce, neurotic family cloying for more and more all the time worth the sacrifice of most of your life? Do you really need to conform, chase the dream, and flirt with life without really savoring it?
The progression of Capitalism has led to our present day, global economy, which encourages and allows a few captains of industry, primarily inheritors of old money who have been born and bred to wield position and power, to continue to live extremely privileged lives. As we pursue their dream by chasing the carrot in front of us, we lay waste to all our planetary resources. Not only are we choking the skies and poisoning the rivers and oceans, but we are sucking the lifeblood right out of every ecosystem.
Humans escaped the worry of being prey. Since achieving that feat, they converted the freedom arising from their climb to the top of the food chain into a belief they have a right to every morsel of Mother Earth’s bounty. The latest generations of humanity have carried that belief to the extreme of living as if they have the right to use every remaining natural resource the Earth has to offer as soon as possible. If humanity persists, there will be no more bounty, just a mutiny in the face of famine.
The internal clock likes being busy formatting experiences’ snippets into memory bits. If we could play our accumulation of snippets game without the need to amass wealth and create hierarchies, allowed everyone to participate equally, provided everyone with a reasonable affluence, but learned modesty in appetite, humanity could learn to harness the inner clock which is running away with our lives as it feeds off every new stimulus. Some of the things people can do, and have done, are remarkable achievements, primarily because they exalt individual and cultural egos.
We really do need to shrink the size of our focus down a bit. Let’s pull the cameras back and not have so many close ups of celebrities’ real life bloopers, but instead, look at the beauty of Splendor all around us. Let’s also not be so intrusive on the inner workings of other nations. Maybe improving conditions within the borders of our own nations and permitting people abroad to decide their own matters their own way is fairer than forcing one perceived brand of morality on all cultures, each of whom may have a sense of morality which varies from the other.
I understand the urge for space travel. However, there are serious physiological issues which humanity must overcome before manned exploration will really be more than a dream. After about two or three months in space, humans begin to experience a loss in bone density. The explorers would also be vulnerable to deadly gamma rays if a burst occurred. In addition, consider a flight of say, 9 months to Mars. Now, imagine how much the muscles of the explorers will atrophy without exertion. Even though scientists have found methods for creating resistance in exercise machines which can be used in space to keep a crew fit and strong, this additional requirement will force the manufacture of larger space vehicles. Besides, we still lack a way to prevent the loss of bone density.
These obstacles push manned exploration of Mars back decades because, at present, we are unable to power capsules off Earth’s surface large enough to contain space gym equipment, meaning that space vehicle will have to be built in space. The crews needed to build this vehicle will be huge. Where will they be located during the construction process? How do we shuttle crews back and forth from the Earth to a space station without continuing to use massive amounts of rocket fuel and commensurately add to our planet’s pollution at the same time as we tear away at our ozone layer? How do we build in space the space station necessary for this project without a space station already there to house the crew to build the space station? How will we shuttle food and supplies to the crews in space? How do we protect these crews from being devastated by gamma rays and radiation from solar flares?
At present, the logistics of humans going much further than brief trips to the moon don’t make much sense. Many of these impediments will likely be overcome in the future (though I'm not sure what anyone is going to do about the loss of bone density). Let’s be real about another issue. These impediments, in addition to the vast distances of space and time which must be traversed in order to reach another star system, are likely to make it impossible for humans to ever conduct manned exploration of space beyond our solar system.
It is just as unlikely that beings from a world beyond our solar system have come here and discovered us. Let’s assume someone traveled at half the speed of light and that the space travelers can live while being transported at that speed (and we do not know that life can persist at such speeds of travel). Now, let’s say they came from 20 light years distance. It would take those space travelers 40 years to get where they were going, and another 40 years to get home. Who, in their right mind, is really going to do that? One would spend nearly one’s entire life (80 years) in the space ship while in transit. One probably couldn’t even spend much time at the original destination before returning home. But more than that, the person would have to live to be 100 to make it home assuming the space traveler was 20 when he or she left.
I also have my doubts about the ability of space engineers to “terraform” a planet, like Mars for instance. If we could do that, we could solve our home planet problems with Climate Change. Unfortunately, we can’t. I guess no one has figured out a way to make a buck at it yet. But no, I’d think humans ought to get it in their heads that they have to keep Earth nice and clean and natural. We have to leave room for other species. This is the only home humanity will ever know, science fiction stories and special effects in the movies notwithstanding.
“Can we travel through time?” one might wonder. Well, apparently a scientist is theorizing ways to move a subatomic particle forward in time. However, the amount of energy needed to actually pull it off is so enormous it wouldn’t be practical for anything larger than a subatomic particle. It’s some astronomical amount of energy. So, imagine the size of the machine one would need in order to transport a human through time. Scientists tell us it would have to be so large that it could only be built in space. I, like scientists, am not so sure the human would arrive at the other end alive though. Assuming we could get all the particles to their desired destination, we still have no clue how to make them cohere into the same human being. Furthermore, no theories presently under consideration offer an explanation of how to re-inject life into the being once transferred. Another caveat is that one could never travel to a time before the machine was built. So, we could never go back to our distant past. No, if we built the machine today and used it tomorrow, the furthest back in time one could go would be yesterday (the today in which its construction was completed).
I consider all these theories for time travel and space travel as being rooted in analytic knowledge: math and conjecture masquerading as scientific inquiry. The speculations are pleasant, but they really add nothing to emotional experience. I still contend it is the rich tapestry of our emotional lives which makes each of us unique. The emotional tapestry weaves together through every life, revealing every unique nuance to Universality. Because of the arrow of time, we look for progressions, improvements, gains and security. But the arrow really offers nothing more than seduction, an illusion of human preeminence over nature.
What we fail to look for as a species is the life force in each of us, the beauty of the world, the sharing of happiness, the naïve trust living within every baby, the dreams shared by lovers, and those special snippets within the moments of our lives which are impregnated with that intense feeling lingering in memory as long as you look for it and which will be there to comfort you in the end. If we slowed down the pace of our lives, we’d reduce stress, improve our health, increase our lifespan, uplift our lives, and all at the same time as we’d reduce consumption, waste, pollution, resource depletion, the disparity of lifestyles among and between economic classes, and elitism.
To keep everybody integrated into their communities and carry on with fields of endeavor and careers, humanity should begin taking immediate steps to convert energy consumption to renewable sources. The creation of an entirely new infrastructure necessary in such a conversion of energy source project would employ huge sectors of the public. Reducing the size of cities and rebuilding them in more ecologically friendly fashions will make the conversion most beneficial to the environment.
By the way, public works projects which might be engaged at this time devoted to perpetuating and facilitating continued waste and pollution such as reinvesting in our roads may employ people but they will only serve to hasten the worst Climate Change can bring and waste the money, time, efforts and materials used. This is a time to look forward and build entirely new infrastructure which will be useful to all of humanity throughout not just the next several years but several decades.
Humanity must realize the days of specialized growing and globalized marketing must come to a swift and sudden end in the not too far off future. The sooner people start growing and marketing locally to satisfy most local needs, the better quality of life those populations will experience during the transition. Growing locally will mean setting aside more farm land in all locales and wise apportionment of water must also be calculated. However, such a process will significantly reduce the amount of worldwide shipping of commodities which continues to pollute our atmosphere and hastens Climate Change. Look, instead, at the harmony which can rise in the place of Climate Change’s potential calamity by beginning such a conversion.
Can we learn to live lives no longer spent in high speed pursuit, full of stress, with no time to enjoy? Can we calm down and slow down? If so, then we can realize nobody needs to be enriched financially off the sweat and stress of their employees.
Likewise, there can be no planned obsolescence built into big ticket purchases. Things should be made to last and they should be bought as long term investments. For businesses to employ a strategy aimed at making the product obsolete in a few years so the buyer will have to go out and purchase a new one is just a swindling of the buying public, a sham of ethics in business practices, and a method to heap more and more piles of refuse and waste onto the mountains of non-biodegradable trash in our public dumps in commensurate response to the heaping piles of cash which accumulate in corporations’ bank accounts and the coffers of super-wealthy individuals. Businesses encourage waste and consumption for profit. People, apparently, are content to fall into line for ease and social prestige.
The arrow of time will always be with us. However, the challenge humanity faces is to decide what individuals and collectives want to do with the arrow. Do they want to encourage corporate greed, mass consumption, and the devastation of the planet through our senses of privilege and wastefulness? Does humanity literally want to drown in cesspools of its own waste and opulent narcissism? I hope not, but that is where we have predetermined the arrow of time into taking us at this very instant in history. It is also a destination which humanity should try to avoid at all costs. Yes at all costs, even the concession of many luxuries you take for granted today, those unnecessary indulgences which suck the life right off the Earth and out of your children’s and grandchildren’s futures. You can’t trust your politicians to take care of these issues for you. They are owned by the corporate greed which seeks to perpetuate itself through a so-called conservative agenda, really only existing to promote wealth, prestige and power. People have to demand governments provide sane and prudent policies for the economy and the environment on their own, one at a time, each coming to the same realization. We must be free from our bonds of slavery to the almighty dollar and the attempts to appease ennui with opulence. We owe it to future generations to leave them some resources to sustain their lives and hopefully give them the same opportunities we can find on occasion, to discover another one of those remarkably emotionally charged snippets of experience.