These are my musings as I walked around Harvard Square at lunchtime on a hot summer day.
Reality is real. It makes no sense to discard the proof of our senses. The trees and buildings exist in an objective reality. This reality has rules and structure. One cannot overcome the pull of gravity or walk through walls or breathe water.
When philosophers suggest perception is an illusion it is perhaps an interesting mental exercise, intellectual “stretching-out” as it were. Yet my senses and experience are consistent. If all this only exists in my thought then why can’t reality be changed to suit my pleasure?
Physicists sometimes develop elaborate mathematical models of the universe that have no room for matter or for time. I’d suggest that such a model fails a crucial experimental test. I know time and matter as every moment experiences of my senses. If that isn’t “real” there is nothing “real”. There is no order, only chaos.
Reality is “known” through the senses.
But I don’t think that is all there is.
I’ve spoken before about what I know and what I feel. I’ve implied that “feeling” something is, in a way, more fundamental than “knowing” it.
I feel there is something more, or perhaps less, but definitely different. It can’t be “known” because it’s not part of objective reality. It can only be “felt”. I don’t feel this thing by looking out. I feel it by looking within myself and by contemplating that which goes beyond survival of the fittest.
If we are merely complex biological machines, our reactions should be highly predictable. If we developed as the end product of millennia of natural selection each of us would have similar, if not identical, motivations and actions. Yet some of us compete in a sort of societal Darwinism manner while others chose altogether different ways of living our lives.
Consider, if all our biological needs are met, would we not rest? If you have a home and food and a partner to pass along our genes to what purpose is served by striving for something else? We might strive for more material stuff, or more knowledge or my self understanding but it seems for most of us, we still strive, even when the basics are covered.
Where does self-destruction fit in? We could be addicted to something that we know will make us incapable of successfully competing but we’ll pursue that something anyway. It could be drugs, or food, or money or sex or power but we’ll fight for it to the exclusion of all else, often to our very deaths. How is that a form of logical natural selection? Shouldn’t this type of behavior have been naturally selected out of us through the generations?
Competition itself can become addictive and destructive. Is there a deeper root cause of the financial collapse of 2008 than the uncontrollable desire of folks who already have everything they could ever need to acquire still more stuff? This type of self destruction on a societal level has little precedence in nature. The wolf pack will eat its fill, but it won’t eat to excess so there are no elk for tomorrow.
What of compassion and self sacrifice. Is not the soldier who jumps on a grenade to save his compatriots a biological deviant? He has completely destroyed his ability to pass along his genes to allow others the same privilege. What of those who devote themselves to caring for the less fortunate, the physically, mentally or emotionally damaged individuals. Is there another species that does anything but leave those individuals to die? Is it not wasteful, in a purely Darwinian sense, to utilize resources on those who are not “strong”?
So how does all of this fit into the here and now for this one individual?
The truth is it where my struggle has taken me for the time being. I’m searching for answers to the questions I once wrote off as unknowable. I’m using the tools I have to contemplate these things. I’m running almost everything that I see and hear through the same filter right now.
A sunset, a tree, a TV show about physics, my dreams, my aspirations, for now they are all about the same thing. All I can do is search for the answers.