Tuesday, April 04, 2006

tabula rasa

At about 4am I had an unsettling thought. My room was dark; music playing softly- only a sliver of light visible under the locked door. What if I saw footsteps under my door- and I knew it wasn’t a flat mate- but someone else? How would I react? Would I be creeped our or freaked? Or would it cause momentary alarm replaced with the oh-so-rational thought that there’s an explanation for this? Perhaps the story on eclipses on BBC made my mind wander. The Chinese thought solar eclipses were caused by a dragon trying to swallow the Sun.

I’ve never been one to be scared of the dark. It is just the absence of light. As much as I love watching fantasy on television, I could never think that fantastical (good or bad) things would ever, actually, really, happen to me. I have a distinct memory of walking to my dorm in boarding school one night, in the middle of what can be best described as a storm. The wind was hard, but what made the scene ever more ominous was the fact that the campus was empty. And I remember thinking I was glad I was there to ‘enjoy’ the moment alone. Sometimes the darkness wraps itself around you so tight, it’s safe. You can’t see anything, and nothing can see you. You can almost not exist for a second.

This led me to whatever little philosophy I have tucked under my belt. ‘Cogito Ergo Sum’- I think, therefore I am. [Descartes] That I understand. Even a thought that you may not really exist can only be thought if there was someone to do the thinking--- in other words, you exist and the consciousness of that fact proves it. I never quite understood some of the other theories- especially one [George Berekley’s?] that claimed that someone is always watching you- because you can only exist if there is perception? That everything is but an idea but you need a mind to make it real.. to make it exist. But does that mean ‘God’ is a necessity to exist? Let me explain- does an object disappear when you leave the room? No? Well how do we know its there? Is it because there is an unseen observer, like, say, God who ensures its existence? And is that a highly manipulative technique to accept God to accept the reality of this life? In fact, philosophy on the whole befuddled me; it was a conversation in mid-air, too intangible for my taste. I felt like you really had to take a lot on faith to believe any of the arguments.

It’s like this conversation I had with this drunk guy who was attempting to be ‘deep’. Also, I think he really didn’t like me much, but that’s a different story. So he asked me about what I ‘believe’ in, in terms of God etc. So I gave him my usual speech about having some vague belief in something. He asked me what I thought happened after death, and I think he was genuinely surprised when I told him I didn’t. I said that I didn’t think about what happened after death and I really didn’t feel the need to subscribe to any theory because I didn’t think anything happened. That’s it. The moment you are no longer conscious you end. [Hmm, as I write this I realize I subscribe to this particular theory, but you know what I mean!] I said what I did believe in was this life- and you should live it the best that you can, but to worry about what happens next is not something I care about. I don’t really know if I believe in ghosts or any of that mumbo-jumbo although sometimes I think I’d like to—and if one were to believe in it, I suppose then the question of where these apparitions come from crops up. But that’s far beyond my understanding. The whole concept of another ‘life’ outside of the one we know suggests to me that our understanding of reality is pre-determined because there are great powers at work which are going to shape our lives, thus exuding some control over it. I hope we do have a free hand in all of it. What I do find really interesting is psychic connections between people. I don’t know if ‘psychic’ is even the right word; maybe one is capable of so much empathy that you start to understand things from another’s perspective. I don’t know really. I know stranger things have happened.

But me? I don’t want to make up my mind too quickly. I’d like to keep guessing. Plus, there is enough in the real world I’m still figuring out. And I enjoy that. No one makes me think that I do.


Rifq said...

it's like the eternal argument...if a tree falls in a forest does it still make a sound even if there's no one there to listen? well of course it doesn't...because sound is only audible if the waves bounce off something. well that's the way i see it anyway....waves are waves sound is sound...waves make sound but are not sound. i suppose the same can be applied to the whole 'existence' theory you're talking about.

honest_fella said...

There are many things that I do not know - I don't quite see how that makes my understanding of reality predetermined. I feel that it is hard to really pin down all the factors that do exude some control over me (so many seemingly random events). So I guess I accept the possibility of a lot of mumbo jumbo but at the end of the day I know the boogie man only exists if you believe in him (because my mummy told me so).

Anonymous said...

There are so many things in this world I do not understand, but still question nevertheless. Questions for which answers cannot be realistically derived.

Superstitions for example, whereby the outcome of certain events, can be influenced by certain specified behaviors. Something we will never know for sure and cannot be scientifically proved. But I guess its belief/faith that we 'feel' towards these things.

Lifes greatest mysteries, are proving to be too many.

Anonymous said...

There are many things that invoke thought, should I say, but this was the most interesting line of this post - I don’t know if ‘psychic’ is even the right word; maybe one is capable of so much empathy that you start to understand things from another’s perspective.

Cyberswami said...

The ancient Greeks, including Descartes, used a lot of individualism in their philosophy. It all depends on how you define things. If sound is the perception of the waves that are caused by the falling tree, then yes, if you are not in the forest when it happens, there is no sound. But waves are generated nonetheless.
The whole question of 'how do you know if you weren't there to see it' occupied the Greeks for many years.
I think it is giving us a little too much importance. There were trees crashing in forests scaring the wits out of animals long before we came down from the trees. The events, in other words, are independent.
I know that is nowhere near the point of your post, but such are the useless things that occur to me when I'm sitting at work.