what a load of narrow bullshit. yes, you are right for the great mayority of drunks but for the conscious anarchist-skeptic new-order-boredom-activists, godless yet spiritually-revolutionary, existential philosophical apostles of nothingness. Yes, the absurdist theorists in the field of elementary positivism and groundless rationalism. That is I, I the drunk, ready to abolish street names and currency values, but infinitely afraid of the content of canned beer to be disposed of, in toilets, I must, we must, drink those brewed liquids meant to appease the lower levels of the civilized brain. Shit, this has already made evident the wilderness of my thought, that is, the irregular paths of my thinking, which may, to the ordinary mind, border on insanity. But I must submit to any, and all, greater forces, for I already know and organically feel the power of that physics that controls my biology and the course of my thinking and action. I am the Wall Street of passion that will scorch the planet in a memory of profit. Or is that the nightmare that we call routine and career? Whatever the verdict, why not stare at the night?
“The intellect [as] a local effect of evolution, a flame, perhaps accidental,
which lights up the coming and going of living beings in the narrow
passage open to their action; an lo! forgetting what it has just told us,
it makes of this lantern glimmering in a tunnel a Sun which can
illuminate the world.” Henri Bergson
Revolutionary insights are bound to occur every few centuries. Evidence for this is clear since we stopped regarding earth as the center of the universe nor our solar system as the only existent planetary system; the “island universes” discovered in the early 20th century later became proof that we float inside a great vacuum filled with galaxies and our position is not in any way advantageous: we are merely an anthill in a vastly greater desert. Revelations of this sort change the root of all our understanding of the human being and his position in this strange universe. The above discoveries lead to a re-conceptualization of our place in the material plane. There are other revelations that force us to reevaluate our previous conceptions at a cognitive or intellectual level. Kant believed to have transformed philosophy with the same impact that Copernicus’ theory revolutionized astronomy. However, his philosophy as influential as it is, couldn’t produce the radical transformation its author had anticipated. In more recent times Heisenberg dramatically redefined the future of physics with his Uncertainty Principle, setting a perennial barrier to the accuracy of information we can obtain at the subatomic level. It will be safe to speculate that world-changing insights will continue to appear throughout history.
Because we are so immersed in our own opinions and hold with unswerving faith our convictions, it is no surprise that it becomes difficult for us to accept, much less digest, what new ideas are pointing at. The evolution of human knowledge is constantly pushing for wider horizons, breaking free from assumptions that were once crowned as truths but are in reality only provisional scaffolds that permit the growth of more profound insights. Such may be that case with our idolatry to matter; ever since science usurped almost every field of knowledge proclaiming that epistemological certainty is only possible through objective (that is, physically oriented) evidence. Steadily ever since Einstein tried to unify electromagnetism and gravity there has been an increasing wave of believers in a unified theory of reality; which in closer analysis is a pretension to explain the entire universe, or all that is, by physical mechanisms. It rests on an unproven assumption that can be summarized like this: because we are able to perceive the physical universe with our five senses and technical apparatuses, everything we perceive can be explained from that which we perceive. In simpler terms we are convinced that there exists nothing more than what we are able to perceive or deduct from our perception, and although this sounds like the plainest commonsense, we should carefully rephrase that assertion to: we can only discuss what we perceive. But we should not discard beforehand the possibility that this world, every phenomenon at the experiential level, may be simply a fragment of a vaster and greater reality. This does not imply that that greater universe which we cannot perceive should be a concern to science and philosophy but it simply comes as a warning to our proud advancement of knowledge. My case can be summed up in the following way:
If our awareness and intelligence arose out of earlier biological experiments, its persistence on this planet must only be explained by the advantages it has given to our species. Its function has been to assist the survival of our kind and not as we now presume, to solve the riddles of existence. Intelligence did not arise to survey all the scope of whatever exists but only to aid the organism in its survival with its immediate environment. This may be a total and insurmountable obstacle for the arrogance of science and philosophy; merely because there may be dimensions of reality we are not designed to perceive, causes that may influence the physical universe which are not strictly perceivable nor deducible from physical phenomena. This condition could set an experiential limitation to our knowledge –not unlike the uncertainty principle – forever and ever concealing absolute truth from our grasp and revealing us not as possessors of facts but merely as gatherers of illusions.
Science is based on an unscientific judgment of value. Science and its followers claim that knowledge and truth about the world are only possible through the scrutiny of the scientific method. Therefore, all other sources of knowledge are doubtful, if not, downright mistaken. It eradicated subjectivity from its grand representation of the universe and claims to speak as matter-of-fact and objective as possible. However, the scientific enterprise has still to prove why we should deal with the cosmos as a problem to be solved; it has yet to answer why knowing is much more important than any other human activity. The great technological benefits we enjoy today are not at all essential; we clearly see the animal world enduring without vehicles or television, or notions such as gravity and entropy, such ‘animals’ even have very complex societies or innate flying abilities. Therefore science cannot claim to be the ultimate route to a better and wiser life, it is a historical phenomenon existing only for the past few centuries and not necessary to life on this planet. In this sense science is morally unscientific; it cannot provide evidence for why a scientific attitude is more preferable than, for example, an aesthetic or nihilistic one. This is simply because science has not been able to predict human emotions or chart our future decisions, it has nothing to say about what we should do; it merely states what is not what should be.
Scientific-minded people believe themselves to be the most rational minds today. They have associated rationality with one method of inquiry (i.e. scientific method) and have abolished all other sources of data and knowledge. This seems to me more like a limitation than an advantage, precisely because science cannot deal with the whole spectrum of our experience. It works simply on the observable external phenomena and has yet to contribute to an understanding of human consciousness. It pretended for many centuries to get rid of this uncomfortable fact but the shadow of consciousness has crept into modern physics and it is now clear that even basic physical concepts such as mass, distance, velocity, time, are dependent on an observer. In a broader sense, rationality should encompass more than just science and its mother logic, considering that science is narrowly limited by its inability to connect with our whole experience of life. In other words, we are aware of things that the analytic mind cannot formulate. The rational discourse of science is incomplete; it cannot be the entire picture since it lacks insight into our inner life which is as real and undeniable as the external world. For this reason we can learn about life equally as much from a scientific treatise as from a novel, a poem, a kiss or a beautiful landscape.
(This is not an attempt to invalidate science but simply a reminder that the powerful mystery of life cannot be grasped from one perspective. Those that are dedicated to the exploration of existence must remember: there are no official paradigms; we alone bestow authority to whatever we choose to believe. We cannot limit the cosmos to certain aspects of itself, it is beyond our attempts to reduce it to one knowable thing.)
If we must submit to the irrationality of following all logic to its end, conclusions may turn shockingly paradoxical. I once heard that we have chosen our life from the very start and that our experience on this planet is simply the revelation of our original choice. If this were true then the absurdity of our suffering would be justified since we have chosen beforehand to experience it. The question that remains would be: why have we forgotten our original choice? Why does life present itself as an unknown unfolding instead of being the realization of one’s desire? By some obscure mechanism our original choice has been obliterated, life remains a permanent surprise. At first this seems like another form of fatalism except for the fact that we have chosen that predetermination. On the other hand, most people believe that the universe is a spontaneous happening and we must choose our way through the hazards of spontaneity. Our life is the result of all our choices, but how do we ever get to choose anything? I sat down the other day to think this one over and I discovered that my choices are really just reactions to whatever is presented to my mind. From the pettiest choices to the most important decisions I simply obey a feeling, logic or a whim. In all of these cases I am subject to what simply happens inside me. Should I buy a black or blue pen? I wait for a moment, experience a certain sensation of pleasure in black and I buy the black pen. Should I live in Costa Rica or in India, I wait for a moment, a logical-emotional labyrinth emerges in my mind and by the end of this involuntary frenzy, I make my decision. Naively speaking, thoughts are like emotions, they arise involuntarily and by a law of their own. Most people are identified with their thoughts, but if you ask them how they fabricate a thought they must inevitably answer: it simply happens. So, if my decisions are nothing but reactions to what is presented to my mind, what is allowing these perceptions? If we submit to modern scientific thinking, to explain a perception in the human mind we must pursue a long path through Psychology, Sociology, Biology, Evolution, Neurology, Chemistry, Physics, and we will end up with an ultimate theory for the universe as seen by man. In very simple terms, what we experience is the result of the whole arrangement of the cosmos, and if we knew every bit of information about this arrangement, we could predict ourselves. Again, we fall into an unremitting fatalism.
But what’s the use of all this reasoning and the contemporary compulsive adoration to logic and reason?