Every day, I ask myself: am I asking the right questions? And is THAT question the correct question?
And then I get pissed off at reality because I can’t break out of my own sense perception. Or (as the video above explains) we’re trapped within the phenomenological field which dictates to us what reality is.
I’d love to pretend that we can find these answers in the words of Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Hilary Putnam (who was about to be the focus of this post). But these are just reinforced notions that the authorities of society want us to think are important. They’re great because all the intellectual authorities tell us they’re great. So even the great wordsmiths of history have no deeper insights into existence. You have the same rational capabilities that they have (or had). And this is partly why I’m pissed that the world still remains a mother fucking mystery to me. But a more alarming fact is that there have been those that have lived and died…who might’ve cracked the mysteries of the universe…and yet are buried and forgotten within the sands of time.
But anyways, my point is that inspiration can be found anywhere. We just have to be willing to let ourselves go places, perhaps strange places, in order to find truth (for a lack of a better word). Yesterday, I felt that no philosopher anywhere had the answers to the questions I was seeking. Perhaps I wasn’t asking the right questions. OR, perhaps I didn’t understand the terminology. Thankfully, I came across the term ‘naive realism’. Basically meaning that we perceive actual properties of objects, the world is physical, and we can know things about it (I guess). Its specifics aren’t important, but we do intuitively act in this manner.
Now, there are videos and articles that I could have used to further my personal philosophy. But fuck that.
The gentleman in the video above is angry, ANGRY, that we are confined to our phenomenological understanding. Not enough people are like that. Personally, I thought I struck gold when I found this video. But then I got angry at it because this guy accurately captured in ONE video what took me 8 months to explain in My Life With Kant. So don’t waste your time with My Life With Kant, just watch this video.
Now there are problems with this overall conception of understanding. If you listen to me or the guy in the video, you’d probably come to the conclusion that we don’t believe in reality outside of the mind. That objects have to be perceived in order to exist. I know that that sounds crazy. And the discipline of philosophy would almost uniformly reject this conclusion. But it’s also just plain WRONG. The continuity of reality and objects in it would suggest that there’s a tangible world that can be known.
But let’s not split hairs here. Throwing out words like ‘idealism’ only takes away from your own responsibility to come to an understanding. Which is why I’ve been a big critic of academia. And even academics themselves seem to mock their own highly specialized terminology. The logic seems to be: “If enough big words are used, then that will only confuse the audience and we would be able to deflect criticism of our own theories“. And I’m not going to lie. I like to play this game as well. But getting buried down in the meaning of words is only a creative way to escape responsibility. It buries the lead in regards to the true problems within philosophy, namely our own responsibility to meaning.
But this gentleman also points out a hardwired problem within human logic: that existence must have an underlying mechanistic cause. The story that he brings up is a familiar one: a mythological account of the existence of the universe. That the world is a dome-shaped structure that’s being upheld by an elephant, and beneath the elephant is a turtle, and beneath THAT turtle is another turtle. Then on and on this goes, all the way down. We just keep discovering one turtle after another. We think that we have escaped this ancient logic, that our scientific methods can discover empirical truths. But that’s only an illusion. Instead of turtles, we find one mechanistic cause underneath another mechanistic cause…never getting any closer to the ULTIMATE mechanistic cause. It’s turtles all the way down!
Now it’s popular for thinkers like me to invoke quantum mechanics at this point. It’s a cliche, really. The more I think about it, it seems strange to throw into question the validity of human perception and understanding, and then bring up something that was discovered by human perception and understanding to positively prove your point. I’m not immune to this. So I’m not sure how much water this argument holds, unless we want to believe Zizek’s joke that God didn’t plan on humans going past the atomic level. But these scientifically mechanical processes exist to justify our own “phenomenological understanding of the world”. Making their purposes virtually no different from the ancient myths of creation.
So the proper way out of this is to undo prior assumptions of the world. Both atheism and the religiously zealous are essentially explaining the same thing from two different ends. They’re explaining that there’s an underlying cause of all reality, and that the mind plays no cause in the creation of our perceptions. And so the whole objective of science and contemporary philosophy is to get around the mind. But under this argument, that’s a road to nowhere.
Now the host of this video is appealing towards the objective of personal development and enlightenment. But he’s using a philosophical argument to make his point. From a purely philosophical perspective, we can’t accept any of this. And we ESPECIALLY can’t accept this from a scientific view. Denying space, time, and matter is basically taboo within modern intellectual discourse. THAT’S the road to Berkeleyism. Or even worse yet…to solipsism. UNLESS we want to take the perspective that space, time, and matter are just manipulations of reality, and are not FACTS. (George Berkeley, anyone?)
I’ve seemed to have made this argument before…that common notions of physical reality are just projections onto a (quantum mechanical?) canvas. The concepts that we use to classify reality, and the objects within it, are both cultural and biological. Therefore, we owe a great deal of thanks to evolutionary psychology. BUT this leaves the question(s): what would reality be WITHOUT minds, and how far down do our conceptions go in regards to our perceptions OF the fabric of reality? And can these inquiries throw into question the validity of science itself? Therefore reality does not consist of FACTS, but of MANIPULATIONS.
For the record, I’m not entirely certain of these arguments, but I’m going to entertain them anyway.
Imagine the irrefutable atom. Did this conception of the atom exist prior to the human mind discovering them? Clearly the mechanical processes that contribute to the conception must exist (I’ll assume), but is the conception a universal necessity, or is it just a manipulation of the human mind?
And why stop there?
Can we ask the same questions for electrons, protons, quarks, and so on? And to what extent does this “phenomenological field” contribute to such conceptions?
Would these ‘things’ be things at all noumenalogically speaking? The intuitive answer is ‘yes’, and this is where we might be stuck in the world of popular and contemporary philosophy. Materialism might be coming up from the seams, and we’re struggling to keep up.
We take comfort in feeling that there’s a constant reality outside of us. So we do everything we can to confirm such notions. This post-materialist phase of science and philosophy might be in its earliest stages, and I know that that sounds pretty stupid now that I say that.
But what would the world be without a materialist foundation? What everyone seems to be avoiding is the possibility that it might be…nothing at all. No one wants to face this possibility because, clearly there’s something. And because there’s something, there must be more something beneath it all. Then on and on we go into our faulty human reasoning (“it’s turtles all the way down”). So without a materialist foundation, we arrive at a dead end.
But how could something also be nothing? Is this nothing noumenologically nothing?
I don’t know.
But correct me if I’m wrong, isn’t matter just energy? And what happens to energy when it stops? Does it go back to nothing? (I’m just spit balling here). So while we might not (at the moment) be able to connect consciousness with the manipulation of reality, nothing itself seems to be underlying the totality of existence. Scientists, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. Of course, this still lends credibility to materialism because it shows that reality is just matter (or energy) in motion. Therefore, we really don’t escape materialism or physicalism.
So what was the question again?