I know nothing! All I know is but a part of myself even though it exists outside of myself!

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I hold an apple in my hand realizing that the apple in my hand which I am perceiving is not the apple that exists outside of me, but rather exists as an internal abstraction of the apple itself. Therein begins the terrifying realization that everything I know or think I know is only that which I have perceived or learned, is only that which has been interpreted by my sense organs, filtered by them, reflected into my brain, filtered by my brain, and finally perceived by my brain.

Nothing I know is objective, only that which has been perceived. Perception of our higher reality, while being of this plane of existence, without filtration, is impossible. The apple to me exists as an abstraction, and thus as a concept. It exists as that which is, though material in nature, idealist to me. The apple is certainly infinite in scope, down to the smallest subatomic particles it is mathematically possible to go down in our analysis of the size of the parts of the apple forever. But it exists in actuality as a finite infinity. For to perceive the apple in its entirety is impossible, only a part can be perceived by us. Even this merely implies an analysis the apple as it exists in a moment frozen in time, not even taking into account the constant dialectic of decay and change in which the apple is undergoing.

What about who I am to myself? I must filter my perception of myself as well even though it is myself. And those around me I love and care about? They too are but abstractions who I can never truly know. In this I am utterly alone, in this, though together, we are all alone. But in realizing this it also comes to mind that, even the good things about life are also internalized reflections of the external, and that they too are a part of me in some small way. Entering into a field of extreme skepticism one can easily come to idealist conclusions that I am the only thing that exists and the world around me is merely a figment of my imagination. But one must accept a scientific analysis if one wishes to retain sanity. The external is real and the mind is an emanation of the material, though no doubt highly organized. But in a spirit of skepticism I can never really know the answer to this question, or the objective answer to any question. In short, the only thing that I know is that I know nothing, nothing at all. And this too is but an abstraction.

The Foundation of the Idea of Objective and Subjective injustice and its Relation to Mercy

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I once said that “one cannot fight injustice with injustice”. But I realize now that this only touches the tip of the iceberg. More specifically, it can be said that “one cannot fight objective injustice with objective injustice”, or that “one cannot fight merely subjective injustice with any form of injustice”.
First of all, what do I mean by this? Objective injustice is precisely how it sounds: that which is objectively unjust. If a person slaughters an innocent for no real purpose at all, with malicious intent, we can say that this was objectively unjust. There was and can be no real justification for this. To the accused, the price for their violating the civil liberty of another is rightfully the violation of their own civil liberty. To the murderer, he experiences a subjective by being imprisoned. Can we say that this subjective injustice was objectively unjust? Not in the least. Therefore this subjective injustice was objectively just.
Objective injustice is always morally abominable. Subjective injustice and mercy are the only ways to address an objectively unjust phenomenon. When equality of white and black people was formally declared it released a whole wave of reaction among some white people who felt that they were being oppressed. But on the contrary! This oppression may have been a subjective injustice to the white man, but it was objectively just, and therefore certainly right! Equality always feels like oppression when you come from a position of privilege.
In response to 9/11, a truly abominable act of terrorism, the U.S. found its alleged justification for unleashing a wave of terror of its own against the middle east. Was this just? It may have seemed that way to the United States but this is merely an example of fighting that which is objectively unjust with objective injustice. It is, therefore, a form of injustice which cannot be justified. Abolitionist John Brown found the only truly emancipatory solution to slavery to be the creation of a violent slave rebellion. Was this unjust? Not in the least! It was a response to an objectively unjust institution which perpetually created injustice. The response was subjectively unjust to the slaveowners, but by merit of being slaveowners they were guilty of an enormous crime against humanity. Brown’s response to slavery was therefore objectively just, and arguably, didn’t go far enough against the slaveowners.
What then is the relationship between mercy and justice? It must be said that mercy towards an individual objective injustice in which the injustice is perpetrated solely against the individual who, in contemplation of what to do arrives at the conclusion that inflicting subjective injustice against the accused is just, is certainly admirable and a worthy deed. However, in instances in which the objective injustice is institutional, collective, and systematically reinforced, the act of mercy against that institution or the perpetrators of it, is itself, merciless against the victims of that objective injustice. Therefore mercy against that which has no mercy in its objective injustice towards others, is itself an act of moral cowardice and barbarity. There can be no mercy against that which is objectively unjust and institutional in nature. This is, in and of itself, an act of objective justice.
We go back to an earlier post, ‘The Elements of Leadership: Immoral, Moral and Immorally Moral Pragmatism’, to ask a simple question. Is it not an act of moral cowardice for one to refuse to kill 5 people if it is the only way to save of 5 million? It may seem to that individual to be wrong, to be an act of barbarism, but objectively the act is eerily just. The ideas of objective and subjective justice and injustice are therefore aspects of utilitarianism, and my contribution to it.

A Materialist Case For The Potential Existence of The Soul

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A common idealist interpretation of consciousness

Materialism as a philosophy proclaims that matter and energy are all that exist. Traditionally materialism, especially the materialism of Feuerbach and Marx, correctly leaves no room for the medieval idea of the incorporeal spirit controlling the body, being the force which drives human consciousness. Consciousness is rightfully proclaimed to be the highest known organizational form of matter. This notion therefore, traditionally does away with the idea of an afterlife, of an immortal soul, of a God, etc. As to the specifics of this I have no intention of trying to specifically justify my views about the nature of God, the afterlife, etc. but only to postulate the potentiality of the existence of the soul within a materialist framework. If this is possible, then all else follows.

The materialist viewpoint seems to conform to what we know science tells us about the world. But all of this assumes the traditional model of consciousness, a form of consciousness based on the physics embodied in the theories of classical mechanics. Traditionally the debate between idealism and materialism in regards to consciousness has been as follows: the mind exists either as science understands it, being material and a product of the processes of the brain in materialism, or as part of an incorporeal spirit that is immaterial in idealism. Obviously this medieval notion of a purely incorporeal spirit is nonsense. It follows then, traditionally, that there is no such thing as the soul. But all of this, as previously stated, rests on the traditional model of consciousness.

It can no doubt be said that the traditional model hitherto conforms with known scientific laws, that the exception with which I am to bring up is merely a scientific hypotheses and not a theory. But its possibility throws into question the very atheistic shell of materialist philosophy and should thus be, at the very least, investigated by any self-proclaimed materialist. The hypotheses which I am referring to is known as the quantum mind, or quantum consciousness hypothesis. To explain it in a nutshell I will reluctantly quote Wikipedia:

“The quantum mind or quantum consciousness group of hypotheses propose that classical mechanics cannot explain consciousness. It posits that quantum mechanical phenomena, such as quantum entanglement and superposition, may play an important part in the brain’s function and could form the basis of an explanation of consciousness.” [2]

But what does this have to do with idealism vs. materialism? With atheism and theism? With the existence of the soul? To answer this question we have to go back to another hypothesis that is a part of the quantum mind hypothesis called “Orchestrated objective reduction”. It was first formulated by theoretical physicist Roger Penrose and anesthesiologist Stuart Hameroff in the 90’s. It should be said that Hameroff is, by his own admission, an idealist. He believes that consciousness does, to a certain extent, create the material world. But even with this, one can easily take his hypothesis and apply it to a materialist framework. For his hypothesis in and of itself, makes no assertion to the immaterial nature of consciousness, for quantum physics is as material a process as Newtonian physics. The hypothesis says that

“consciousness in the brain originates from processes inside neurons, rather than from connections between neurons (the conventional view). The mechanism is held to be a quantum physics process called objective reduction that is orchestrated by molecular structures called microtubules. Objective reduction is proposed to be influenced by non-computable factors imbedded in spacetime geometry which thus may account for the Hard Problem of Consciousness.” [3]

When we take the traditional model of consciousness into account we can conclude that consciousness dies with the decay of the human brain, that it does not and can not go on after death by any known processes. If we presume consciousness to be quantum in nature, it follows then that consciousness obeys the laws of quantum physics. We know that nothing can go faster than the speed of light, that for it to do so is a violation of the laws of Newtonian physics. But in quantum physics there exists the process of quantum entanglement, which is the

“physical phenomenon that occurs when pairs or groups of particles are generated or interact in ways such that the quantum state of each particle cannot be described independently of the others, even when the particles are separated by a large distance—instead, a quantum state must be described for the system as a whole… This has been shown to occur even when the measurements are performed more quickly than light could travel between the sites of measurement: there is no lightspeed or slower influence that can pass between the entangled particles.” [4]

It is in this process that the adherents of the Quantum Consciousness hypothesis find a potential mechanism for how consciousness could escape the body in the form of quantum information at a speed faster than the speed of light without violating the known laws of physics. It is precisely in this spirit that Hameroff postulates how his theory might apply to life after death:

“‘Let’s say the heart stops beating, the blood stops flowing, the microtubules lose their quantum state. The quantum information within the microtubules is not destroyed, it can’t be destroyed, it just distributes and dissipates to the universe at large,’ Dr. Hameroff told the Science Channel’s ‘Through the Wormhole’ documentary.

If the patient is revived, however, this quantum information can go back into the microtubules and that is what we describe as ‘a near death experience‘.

‘If they’re not revived, and the patient dies, it’s possible that this quantum information can exist outside the body, perhaps indefinitely, as a soul,’ Dr. Hameroff said…

‘The energy of your consciousness peels away from the physical vehicle at death, in the same way that a pianist can get up and walk away from the piano,’ Steven Bancarz wrote in an article.” [5]

Some would say that materialism degrades the human condition by asserting that consciousness is merely a result of physical phenomena. But on the contrary, I say it empowers the human spirit by showing the complexity not only of the universe but of the human mind. As for the idea of quantum consciousness, it is all, of course, speculative, as the hypothesis is just that- a hypothesis. But if true its ramifications could be enormous in the field of materialist philosophy and philosophy at large. Is it a bit of a stretch? Perhaps, but then again perhaps not. What do you think?

 

Sources:

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2: Quantum Mind

3: Orch OR-Quantum

4: Quantum Entanglement

5: Hameroff Quote

 

On that age old question of existence, part 2

The formless static from which being emerges is called nothingness. The creation of nothingness separated by time (+1 and -1) is called being. The coming into being is called the birth of reality. The collision of +1 and -1 is called annihilation, or the end of being. 
Within the virtual particles, with their endless coming into being and annihilation without actually creating anything that adds up to more or less that zero, is the secret rational answer to that age old question: why does anything exist instead of nothing? For in fact, mathematically nothing does, or can exist. Everything adds up to nothing.

On existence, an answer to the question of “Why does something exist instead of nothing?”

What is said to be that which cannot be, yet is? It is existence, it is being, it is not however, nothingness. Why? There is no why, there simply is. Nothingness cannot simply be, it can only be the static from which being arises. How? Can something be created out of nothing? In principle, no, in actuality, yes. +1 and -1 can come into being simultaneously, and so long as they are separated by some variable (such as time), they can exist for a “time”. +1 and -1 can only come into being because they add up to zero, to nothingness. But time and space are relative. So, within +1 or -1, time can be infinite. +1 and -1 can infinitely approach one another without ever joining together and annihilating. It could be said that “the” universe undergoes endless cycles of deaths and rebirths, but insofar as time as relative, our universe can in essence be eternal. Does “time” exist in the void in which these infinite variables of equal but opposite values arise? In principle yes, in actuality no. Such is the answer to the grand question “Why does anything exist instead of nothing?” For nothing does exist, everything adds up to nothing! This is the answer which my existential crisis has brought me to.

Briefly, On the Sacred Nature of Literature : Books Are Thought Traps!

Long ago when someone wanted to preserve a message, they carved it on stone in the form of a picture. Today we have written language and books, allowing us to send complicated messages, thoughts, and ideas into the indefinite future. Books are thought traps! That is the essence of my appreciation of literature. You can collaborate on a project with Isaac Newton, Leonardo Da Vinci, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Karl Marx, etc. without ever having met said person. When you read something, your thoughts become their thoughts, even if for just a moment. You quite literally hear the thoughts of dead geniuses in your own head, for you to freely contemplate, listen to patiently, and build off of. The thoughts of those long gone, still echo off the bookshelf. I cannot emphasize the miraculous nature of such a phenomenon enough.

Literature, and written language are the SOLE reason for human progress today. As Isaac Newton himself said, “If I have seen further than others, it is by having stood on the shoulders of giants.” This is a direct reference to the written literature of brilliant minds who had long ceased to be when Newton took up their torch. Human endeavor is a collaborative effort, stretching across both time and space. Next time you read a book, remember that whoever wrote it decided to preserve that thought, idea, or story in time indefinitely, to exist for hundreds if not thousands of years after their physical mind ceased to be. Appreciate literature, it is sacred.

On Unfiltered Thinking, The Miracle of The Psychedelic Experience and Human Genius

When you think, focus on thinking with the part of your brain that forms thoughts, not the part that says them aloud in your head. When that filter is removed in times of extreme meditation, psychedelic experiences, etc. you will find that thoughts can flow like a turbulent river, whereas before it was only a trickle. But such a skill can be cultivated in the sober mind as well. This, I believe, is a key to human genius. It exists in all of us, regardless of if we know it or not. 
In normal times of sober reflection, we notice that we think in 2 stages, first we know what we are going to say in our mind, and then we say it aloud in our head. Focus on that part that spontaneously brings thoughts into being. Listen to it, and it alone when you need inspiration, or to think quickly.
Thoughts arise naturally, independent of language. This is the realization that comes from such thinking. We imagine first the essence of what we want to think, then the words. The essence forms in our minds 50x quicker than it takes to say the thought aloud. If we focus on the essence, and not the time consuming process of putting it into words, we will find the genius of the human mind, regardless of who is thinking.
I believe such thinking can only be fully unleashed during spiritual and psychedelic experiences, when the filter between the essence of our thoughts coming into being, and it’s translation, is removed. In such a state we think of 50 thoughts per second. Incredible realizations about life, language, ordinary phenomena, inventions, being, etc. These experiences of completely unfiltered thinking under the influence of psychedelics have led to incredible innovations and discovery. I will give you several examples.
The shape of DNA was discovered on LSD. A group of scientists had been working for many months on trying to figure out the shape of DNA. They all dropped acid one day, and within several hours had discovered that the double helix was the best shape to bring the molecules of life together in a functioning pattern. Steve Jobs and Bill Gated both attribute LSD to their success. And most of the music on your phone without doubt came from someone on some form of psychedelic. 
I too have experienced the profound realizations that come under psilocybin, I speak from experience alone. Unfiltered thinking can be cultivated, I believe, in a mind that has not had such an experience. Unfiltered thinking is natural thinking, divorced entirely from language. I believe it, along with psychedelic drugs, to be keys of human genius.