Sunday, July 27, 2014

Duality Trap

We cannot think except in pairs.  Something and nothing both gives and takes meaning from itself.  When an idea is introduced, it is understood in relation to something else; yet, if this something else is also an idea, then which idea is real?

Let's explore some of these duality traps on today's discourse with the Socratic Ape.

What makes us think we are an "I" or a "me"?  Is it just because you have a different name or that you look different?  Is that what this I and me business is all about--appearance?  How would you describe exactly what, or who, you're referring to when saying "I"?  What makes you, you?  How do you know you're not exactly the same as everyone else, or that everyone else is not you?

One thought is that you are just an animal, and the bodily senses provide you a picture of the world, while experiences shape certain pathways in your head; these pathways determine your behavior architecture, and you respond to the environment accordingly.  Basically, a mechanistic view that has a powerful resemblance to computer systems and software.

Another thought is that you are, I am, something that is not the body but only inhabiting it.  Perhaps it is a projection, a mental picture, in the subconscious sea; or maybe we are living souls, the image of divinity, bearing some curse or otherwise condemned to mortal existence.

Others are not I or me, and this simple understanding is the binary companion of self.  Imagine, if you would, a conscious being existing in a world where no other beings existed.  Without ever knowing of any other being like itself, would the concept of self even exist?  How can such an isolated being ever understand that it was an I unless it encountered an other, a "not I"?

Can this question be answered by humans?  I'm not even sure it can be answered at all, as the only being capable of answering it would no longer be the same being once it encountered an external being; or would it simply assume the external being was its' own self?  Or is this all moot because a conscious being would immediately know self just by its own existence and that it exists in an environment?

The fact of consciousness necessitates something to be conscious of--in this case, one's own existence in relation to that which it exists within.  We perceive our corporeal existence in relation the physical structures and people around it.

If I and me are not this body, nor the environment, but something beholding it, then what exactly is this something that is aware of a body and an environment at the same time?  Is it your brain?  Your brain is aware of your brain, and your body, and the environment?  What do you think?

Ideas are powerful tools.  Not only do they shape human culture, but they lay the groundwork for other ideas.  Without the sufferings of World War I, Hitler wouldn't have had cultural misery and shame to draw emotional power and forge the National Socialist movement.

Is it just the fact of self-awareness that creates duality?  Why would self-awareness arise at all?  What biological necessity would warrant an organism being aware that it exists apart from other organisms?  If it's all Darwinian, what's the necessity index for self-awareness?

What I'm wondering so much about it is, why be self-aware at all?  Is it conceivable that it's a delusion?  People have mental problems all the time, imagining everything from dancing snakes to naked clowns speaking in tongues.  Human consciousness could be a result of some really screwed-up wiring.

Is this world of I and me that we've created something good or evil?  Why did we make it this way and not another way?  There are a million questions like those that one might ask about anything, but it's secondary to the immediate concerns of I and me.  The nature of reality has to wait, there's an appointment I have to keep or a show to watch.

If it is so easy to manipulate human culture, public opinion, news, social conventions, accepted norms, and anything else that relies on ideas, then how do any of us ever find a way out of the duality trap?

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