Monday, March 30, 2015
Immortality is Undeniable
Suppose I suggested that you, I, and everything that exists is, in fact, immortal. Ah, but I presume you think physically immortal, right? Well, maybe we are eternal, physically and otherwise. Likely, we'll never know, but let's apply the Socratic Method and see what kind of answers we can question.
Non-existence is counter-intuitive.
We exist--you reading this sentence, thinking, and me, thinking about you reading this sentence, share a small piece of our existence in the process. Will you cease to exist? Will I? Do you have any prior experience on which to base a belief of non-existence? I do not recall not existing, or being conscious of not being conscious, or living in death. Prior to a handful of childhood memories, I have no recollection of existence as a toddler, baby, or in the womb. Did I exist at that point if I don't remember existing?
Should death render us compost, dust, and unable to maintain consciousness then we no longer possess the capacity to be aware of our existence; this means we would be unaware of not existing. When I sleep a few hours and wake, with no images of a dream, did I cease to exist during that time? In my stream of consciousness, I seemed to have teleported several hours ahead--or did I cease to exist and then re-exist?
What about the cosmos? If there was no sentient, conscious life to observe the universe, would it exist? The simple answer is "yes", but there is no hope trying to reason out how to suggest something exists without also having something to be aware of its existence.
Is it possible to imagine nothing?
Seems like an exercise in self-induced psychosis. Nothing to us always means something, doesn't it? Zero is still a digit; a vacuum still has light; the dead leave a memory. The act of trying to conceptualize nothing makes it something in your mind; the symbol, the thought, exists to you, a conscious observer, and observation creates existence.
For nothing to exist would imply an observer with nothing to observe... which would mean an observer isn't really an observer. How do you explain your existence without relating it to anything else--relating it to nothing. Consciousness and its object seem to be indistinguishable; at least, there doesn't seem to be a way to demonstrate, even with anecdote, existence without such a paradigm.
Yet the universe as we know it is a complex field of interacting electromagnetic waves, vibrating and condensing into matter. If all this energy was back to its primordial state, wouldn't it still represent everything in potential? If so, then it also represents nothing as all things are also no things, infinity is also zero, eternal is never--if everyone is special then no one is special.
I Think, Therefore I Am That I Am.
Our existence, both to our self and others, is known by thought. The content of our thoughts depends on the circumstances of our birth, upbringing, and all that stuff. Without the mind and its ability to perceive, to be aware, we would have no tool to test existence. No matter the language, proficiency, or genetic gifting of mind, it is required to think as a human and thinking is where we discover the existence of self, other, world, time, and the rules of the game.
Until your thoughts cease, how will you know you cease to exist? Once stopped, can you then think about not existing without thinking about it? Does thought, idea, constitute existence?
Let's imagine that a brave young man stands up to a tyrant in a far away land and his courage inspires a revolution that changes the world--but no one is there to witness the deed. News does not carry word of his action to your ears. Does this young man exist? How would think about his existence without first acquiring the thought of his existence?
If you were raised without language, would you exist with a name? Without a name, would you understand if another human was addressing you? If a girl is raised to think, act, and dress like a boy, would her existence include male behavior? How much of what we think we are is a result of what others think we are?
Does what you think, even in dreams, exist to you?
What constitutes existence?
If your name is just a sound and symbol in the mind, why does it exist as you?
Can you be conscious of not existing while you exist?
Can you be unconscious and still be aware of your existence?
If the cosmos came to be without conscious life, how would its existence be known?
Think about yourself. Pick anything: hair color, name, occupation, life status, birthday, or any other trait or characteristic you would use to describe yourself to someone else.
Ask yourself if this particular thought is actually you. If your a parent, is that actually who and what you are? Is it a role you play or is it intrinsic to your being?
Are you nothing more than a collection of labels, descriptions, roles, words, thoughts, ideas... or are you something more?
Go through as many of these things as you wish, thinking about each one in light of how it relates to your idea of self. Are you generous because of someone else's generosity or because of some belief in helping others?
Who is this "you" that is generous, loving, selfish, sexy, angry, a mother, a cop, vice president, janitor, jazz musician, rock star, porn star, or any number of things about you?
Is that really "you" or a list of things about you?
If these things aren't you, then who is this ghost in the machine?