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Turning Over New Leaf

Friday, October 1, 2010

If You Don't Exist, Please Do Not Respond




If You Don't Exist, Please Do Not Respond




I have been a student of philosophy since my high school days. Admittedly, I didn’t know it until years later in graduate school at California State University. It was there I learned that I knew nothing – a lesson everyone should experience at least once in a lifetime.

 
From childhood, I would always think about philosophical problems on my own. What really exists, and what is illusion? Can humans actually know anything? Is there actually a right and wrong? Is there an afterlife? And, of course, What is the meaning of life itself?

Philosophy is not science. It relies only on thought, not observation or experimentation, so I choose to share my thoughts, even if you do not care to accept them. I enjoy raising philosophical questions, because it is much easier to do so than to suggest answers. Here are some of my questions:

 
 1. Is it possible that nothing exists outside of my own mind? I guess so. People have pondered this question for centuries to no avail. My answer is simple. I don’t care. I will go on believing there is a world outside my mind simply because I’m enjoying it. I hope there is one, but if not, it really makes no difference, because I could not prove it anyway. I just enjoy it, whether it exists or not.

 
 2. Is there a body and a soul? I am happy to report that following a lifetime of study, I have no clue. Scientists (who may or may not exist), living in the world outside my mind, tell me the brain affects the mind and the mind affects the brain. In my life, I sometimes think things are happening, and as a result, I am physically affected, even if they are not happening. My mind plays tricks on me. Sometimes, they actually happen, and my toe hurts like hell when I stub it. That has something to do with the brain sending impulses through my nervous system, which in turn causes me pain. So is my mind my brain? Or are they separate? Dualism is the theory that the body is a physical organism, quite different from the soul that is strictly mental. Once again, I am not sure. Materialism is the theory that the mind is a physical function of the brain and part of a singular organism that eventually dies. This is the “When you’re dead, you’re dead theory.” Would you like me to break the tie? Not a chance. I have no clue. That is why I am still a student of philosophy. I have many more questions, and would sincerely love to hear your answers – if you exist.

14 comments:

  1. Philosophy is one of those things that I dabble in but get bogged down fairly quickly, I don't really like the thought that I might be living in an existential vacuum or something.

    However, have you read "Sophie's World"? If not then I highly recommend it.

    ~Juniper~

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  2. Personally, I kind of think that philosophy as just thought without any application to the universe is kind of a dead-end.

    In Stephen Hawking's latest book, as well as panning the "God/creator hypothesis" he also takes a swipe at Philosophy saying that it is essentially dead - unable to keep up with the new changes being made in our understanding of the Universe and it is science, in particular physics, which has inherited the burden of answering the fundamental questions of the Universe.

    I haven't yet read the book - it's not yet out, or maybe it's just out, but it created quite a stir over here in merry ol' England.

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  4. I was told I was born a philosopher because I have always looked at life turning and twisting it like a Rubik's Cube. I have likened philosophy to the Garden of Eden story. At some point in time, a breath entered our lungs and we were inspired. Our lungs filled, our eyes opened and looked around and breathlessly we said 'wow....' That inspiration of breath and the breathlessness of wonder is philosophy. The life comes from not getting bogged down in the breath...move on to the breathlessness, the wonder of seeing, questioning, touching and just saying 'wow.......'

    So very nice to meet you JJ...we have crossed many similar paths.

    [sorry for the delete, my cat jumped on my laptop and hit post mid sentence....you gotta love serendipity]

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  5. Juniper: Don't worry. You are real.

    Akseli: I will be looking for Stephen Hawking's latest book starting today. It sounds like it is right up my alley.

    Beth: It is nice meeting you as well. I agree with the outlook. That is why I love archetypal criticism so much. It enables me to trace some of the "pieces" of life, even through fiction. And don't worry about your feline friend. I enjoy the little things in life. They are often well-designed chaotic happenings.

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  6. Juniper: I do remember "Sophie's World." The critics didn't like it much, but I thought it was clever. It beats Philosophy 101!

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  7. I am a follower entering an anonymous comment. Have any idea why?

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  8. Yes, Anonymous. You do not exist.

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  9. Damn, there are some intelligent people around these parts. Makes me feel a bit like Charlie Brown sometimes ;-)

    JJ, I'm glad I am real, I certainly feel like it..

    Nice LinkWithins!

    ~Juniper~

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  10. Juniper: Thank you! LinkWithins really inspired me to clean up my site. Since I am guilty of doing a million things simultaneously, I have not upgraded for a while. I am learning, however.

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  11. "Scientists (who may or may not exist" bahahaha, that's the best part of this post. This is intriguing stuff. Trippy. But intriguing.

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  12. Jen: I agree. Some people get really hung up on this stuff. I like philosophy because it gets me thinking, but I refuse to live my life according to somebody else's theory. It is Trippy.

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  13. JJ that reminds me that Mr H. and I were reading some stuff about Buddhism, we agree with much of it's philosophy, a lot of which is common sense and common courtesy; but Mr H. said 'why does everything have to have a name? why can't we just live the right way?' which is a valid point. What you say there about philosophy strikes me as the same - why does it have to be attributed to a specific person or theory.

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  14. "What really exists, and what is illusion?"

    If this is the direction of your philosophical enquiries, then I recommend Epistemology: A Modern Introduction to the Theory of Knowledge by Robert Audi, which is a serious and comprehensive academic take on the subject (and probably the best recent book on the subject too).

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