In this post, following my lengthy introduction, I will re-print a comment by Jason Coats, and my response. Commenter A Mom opined that my response warranted its own blog post, and I agree.
Jason, says, tongue in cheek (because he is a true whimsical personality, and I love that about him) writes the following concerning my previous article:
“Was I conscious in the womb? I forget.”
My response was decidedly not tongue in cheek, but rather a lengthy and ambitious attempt (which probably took Jason by surprise…then again, it’s me…) to identify the key metaphysical and epistemological assumptions behind Jason’s comment, and to unravel them and show him where his thinking (humorous as it was) was not consistent.
Even though Jason himself may have not been thinking along philosophical lines when he typed his comment, the comment was in fact an excellent and succinct summation of the criticism my article warrants. It was and is a perfect and surgically precise assault on my own assumptions. I was impressed. On a side note, I’ll admit that Jason continues to show himself is a very, very perceptive and highly intelligent human being. He is both interesting and possesses a breezy, refreshing wit. And this is an unusual combination in my experience. His comment was nothing short of brilliant…a single sentence comprising the sum and substance of the”devil’s advocate” to my previous post.
It was a challenge answering him…not because I didn’t have an answer but because it is an answer so difficult to put into words. Thinking along the lines of the absolute SELF comprising the totality of reality–meaning that individual consciousness is the singular and therefore utter and absolute context by which any of us have for knowing and thus conceding/believing ANYTHING, which makes even existence itself a direct function of the consciousness of the individual level by giving existence a frame of reference by which it can have any rational meaning whatsoever–yes, thinking in terms of the absolute singularity of the conscious SELF requires an utter re-evaluation of reality on every possible level in every possible scenario.
Now, this doesn’t mean that the conventional way of describing reality according to an agreed upon and cohesive conceptual paradigm is somehow being ejected and rejected by me…not at all! That would be most unwise, for conceptualizations are wholly necessary to human survival. For I fully concede that concepts produced by human cognition are the very way we organize our universe and our place in it in order to effect the perpetuation and promotion of our lives. It is the ability to make a conceptual distinction between SELF and NOT SELF (NOT SELF being other people, other objects, animals, etc., etc….even God) is what sets humanity apart from every other life form on Earth, and why man rules this planet so absolutely, submitting every creature and even the environment itself to his utter will. In short, man’s concepts are what truly organizes reality for his life’s sake. Rejecting the conceptual paradigm is tantamount to suicide. And besides, a person can no more reject his abstractions by which he knows and does all things than he can reject his own mind. Conceptualization is the only rational goal to thought…and show me a human being who doesn’t think in concepts and I’ll show you an animal.
All I am trying to do is use reason, not scientific proofs (which is determinism)and not mysticism, to create an objective and logical Standard for how and why we can claim that our concepts are true or false, or good or evil. And the affirmation of this Standard will determine utterly the efficacy and relevance of all things, which are categorized, defined, and recognized by man’s conceptual paradigm. In short, I am merely trying to reverse the causal relationship between SELF and concepts. Concepts are a function of man and thus serve him; while most of humanity accepts the opposite. Time, space, distance, color, direction, particles, laws of nature, etc….all of these are assumed to be actual and active…forces which determine the movement and relationships of the physical objects in the physical universe. Thus, human beings walk an impossible and destructive existential line by assuming that somehow, in the face of all of the “forces” which absolutely and infinitely govern man’s existence outside of him and utterly separate him from his own consciousness (meaning they remove man from himself), they can know anything, let alone truth, and can pretend to possess a distinct existence of SELF–which runs completely contrary to the idea of governing “laws” of the universe–by which they can “know” how things work and why things are the way they are and their own subsequent “place” in the universe, as if any of that even matters at all since all things are determined by the unseen forces which move everything in this way or that, in endless, meaningless perpetuity. And what I submit is that all evil and destruction and pain and suffering which humanity endures is a direct function of this impossible explanation of reality; the madness and cognitive dissonance, eventually manifesting as psychological rending and torment, that somehow man can know that he is utterly determined by the causal forces of universe which act upon him relentlessly, indifferently, and pointlessly. That man is a direct function of space and time and a myriad of other abstractions, instead of the other way around. Where the other way around is the only rational way of thinking about reality.
Man is not a function of his concepts, but they are a function of him. The only reason “time” and “space” and “blue” and “red” and “left” and “right” and “math” and “chance” and whatever other concept used to define and organize our environment exist at all is because MAN looked upon his world and got the idea that his movement and the movement of all he surveyed needed to have names, organized into categories and subsets, and measurements and equations by which to communicate them abstractly. This allowed man to “create” his reality, if you will, as a conceptual paradigm in order to promote and then track the progress of his life…the growing fulfillment and satisfaction of the SELF. The further man progressed in his environment, meaning the longer and more comfortable he lived, the more “real” the concepts became, and the more profitable and therefore good and TRUE they revealed themselves to be.
…somewhere along the way, man decided that he no longer was both the creator and the prime recipient of these concepts and their power to promote life. Instead, something, or someone–I call him the Devil–convinced man that indeed man’s SELF was not the source, the Standard, of truth and goodness as his concepts demanded according to reason. Somehow man became convinced that he was a product of these concepts, and that they, being the metaphysical, epistemological and ethical absolute, demanded that man sacrifice himself to them. No longer was man absolutely him SELF, which made all of reality an extension of his ability to BE what he IS, but rather, man became an extension of them. Therefore, insofar as man could claim the ability to think at all, his primary objective for “living” became sacrifice. That is, DEATH. Man’s very notion of SELF became evil…a lie, and an full-on affront to the full and absolutely causal and determinative power of the concepts which he had created. Time was no longer merely a tool man used to measure some aspect of relative movement between objects or himself in his environment. Rather, time became fully animated and sentient itself, governing man according to its inexorable power over him. Man became “temporal”, God non-temporal, for example. Man thus became a direct function of something outside of him. He needed to be compelled to integration to the forces which claimed authority over him because his mind constantly lied to him by convincing him that he had a SELF by which to choose and act on his own behalf. Determining man’s very actions, and defining him according to its relentless and perpetual march, time resists this illusion of man, and man’s choices, no matter what he thinks, are perfectly futile.
Man became a direct function of time, instead of the other way around. Even the whole of the universe has a temporal beginning, and will have a temporal end, and thus time marches on, even beyond the realm of physical reality, proving yet again time’s transcendent nature; its existence utterly beyond and removed from the objects it “governs”. But the contradictions of reason don’t matter, because once man becomes a function of his concepts then man ultimately loses the ability to think. Since everything man is is a direct function of something OUTSIDE of him, then so is everything he knows.
And this is when death entered the world. Man’s SELF became an affront to the forces which govern him. They alone have the right to declare what is true and what is good. And as soon as man pretends that he has some right to the ownership of his own life, or attempts to declare that assaults upon his property or his comfort or his livelihood or his very life are wrong and an injustice, he has violated his primary moral obligation: the sacrifice SELF for the good of the concepts which “govern” him, because to claim the existence of an autonomous, individual SELF is the greatest evil a man can perpetrate. If concepts are the true IS, then man, as a distinct SELF, can only be IS NOT. And therefore, the more pain you are in the more you are aware that the SELF is indeed evil, and a violation of the “truth” of the absolute sovereignty and determinative power of abstract, conceptual “reality”.
Pain is the the only logical and natural and moral experience of one who has conceded man’s true subordinate and contradictory-to-morality-and-truth existential state, and thus pain is good. Pain is good because death is good. And truly, death is the ultimate good, and the more you suffer for your sin of existence, the more you understand that you should never have been born in the first place. Which even a cursory reading of the Biblical text is the devil’s whole fucking message. And sadly there are a LOT of churches which are very, very good at preaching it.
For the record, I do not envy the ecclesiastical leadership of today’s “orthodox” churches on judgement day. For if pain and suffering is logically the hallmark experience of death, and these people categorically laud the benefits and truth of man’s death as his moral obligation (which they DO) , then what will an “afterlife” look like for them? Since there is no such thing as nothing and no such existence of the SELF as NO SELF, they must go on living in some form. But what form of living exists to and is experienced by the one who has conceded the supremacy of a belief in DEATH as man’s greatest act and experience, and therefore suffering and torment as the supreme realization of reality?
Lot’s and lot’s of pain. Pure, unadulterated pain.
And welcome to hell. You want a rational explanation of hell? There it is.
Those of us who would prefer to avoid a reality where man is subservient to his powers of conceptual abstraction are disadvantaged when it comes to expressing our ideas because we, and the cultures and societies which spawn us and our thinking, come from three thousand years of Platonist thought. And the notion of the physical and actual essence, and the tangible causality of things like time and space, and the governing of the universe by mathematical proof, all of which is nihilism at its root, is something we have come to accept as just as certain as our own reflections in the mirror. And indeed, one could argue that they are more so. For without the “laws” of time and space and the rest of the unseen, unobservable (as themselves…that is, not observed second hand via the movement of the objects they “govern”) which are somehow utterly determinative and inexorable in their control, we understand that we could not exist to produce a reflection in the mirror in the first place. We accept the rationally impossible idea that our conscious SELF is the direct product of something decidedly not us and not conscious; that what is absolutely and infinitely not us and what is absolutely not conscious somehow directly produces that which is absolutely us, and is our absolute consciousness.
Again, this is impossible. Since our conscious SELF is the singular, sole, and therefore absolute and unmitigated and unmitigate-able context for everything we experience and know, then in the epistemological chain, our individual consciousness must always come FIRST. And since our epistemology is a direct function of our metaphysic, it means that, in terms of reality, wherein all things have relevance and efficacious meaning, SELF is the utter singularity, being a function of itself, created by God perhaps, but only indirectly (more on this in later posts), with ALL things being a rational extension of the individual consciousness, as all things are integrated into the conceptual constructs of that consciousness in order that they have any meaning or purpose at all. And man’s ability to claim the existence of what he observes from the singular frame of reference of his SELF is perhaps the most significant and profound of his conceptual abilities. Man can rightly claim God’s existence because he can observe God rationally from the context of SELF, which is the objective Standard of truth. He can observe God and relate to Him, via language, via concepts, to know that He likewise is equally conscious, equally able to apprehend and structure the environment conceptually, and so together, man and God relate to the mutual benefit of each other and to affirm each others’ SELVES and to proclaim each others’ value. Objectively. Rationally. Period.
This makes all things, again, which you and I observe, a function of our conceptual “reality”, with the epicenter of the SELF being the singularity which gives it all relevance and meaning. And how you relate to your SELF is going to be fundamentally different from how others relate to you. Take for example Jason’s comment: “Was I conscious in my mother’s womb? I forget?
As I explain to Jason below, your mother relates to you entirely different from an existential standpoint than you relate to you. Your mother relates to you as a baby when you are very little, or in the womb, but you, yourself, have no frame of reference for this particular context…that is, you as a baby. You see your baby pictures, but you must be conscious of them first for these pictures to have any relevance or meaning to you. Your SELF, as conscious, is a prerequisite to the pictures being of any point to you at all. Thus, you must concede that for your frame of reference, you as “baby” must PROCEED (come after) you as conscious SELF. This may be different for your mother who observed you as “baby” preceding you as conscious SELF. Now, when we concede the causal power of purely abstract and conceptual ideas like “time” and “space” you will call my idea madness. How can you as conscious YOU come BEFORE you as baby? Even though I cry until I am blue in the face for anyone to show me how they can prove that unconsciousness precedes their consciousness when they can only make that argument from a place of consciousness first, making the conscious SELF the prerequisite for ever knowing and thus arguing that the “unconscious SELF” came before them. However, if we relegate the notions of time and space to their proper conceptual, non-actual and non-causal roles, and understand that all interaction between objects is in fact purely relative, we can make the argument that how others perceive you according to their absolute frame of reference of SELF is going to be markedly and utterly different from how YOU perceive you. You were never baby, for instance, until after you became consciously aware. Consciousness, being absolute, and not subject to time or space, is not beholden to some one else’s perspective, like mom’s. Perception is going to be relative from person to person, as each one is observing from an entirely exclusive context of SELF.
Agreeing upon a conceptual paradigm as the means by which man will relate to other men for the purposes of pursuing mutual promulgation and promotion and affirmation of SELF does not mean that these concepts all of a sudden usurp the absolute reference point of individual conscious SELF.
And thus I responded to Jason:
I might ask you this: When did you realize you had been in the womb?
The answer is: When you became conscious of it. And when is consciousness?
Your consciousness is always NOW. YOU are always NOW. You are the center of all reality…unmovable, timeless, and unchanging. It is what it is because you ARE. Not were, not will be…you always ARE. Period.
There is thus an “Inverted”, if you will, relationship between the realization of your “past” in the womb and your present consciousness. You realizing you were at some point “baby” to someone else is a direct function of your consciousness NOW. And moreover, since EVERYTHING that you observe to exist, exists NOW, you cannot declare the “past” as evidence of material body preceding consciousness. You, being utterly and perpetually NOW, have no frame of reference for “past”, and therefore you must concede that the “past” is purely a concept, not an actuality. Therefore the “past” does not contain any evidence. All of the evidence is NOW, and NOW is where your consciousness is.
Even that cute little baby picture of you with cake all over your face at your first birthday that you don’t remember is not an “image of the past”. It is an image that exists NOW. You look at it and you conceptualize a notion of the “past” when you were “younger” and “had no self awareness”, but all of this is done from the frame of reference of your consciousness in the moment of NOW. Your consciousness thus is the IS which allows anything to have any meaning or relevance at all, even the notion of “past existence”, which is, strictly speaking, a contradiction in terms. The only reason you can say you existed in the womb is because you can consciously acknowledge it NOW. Period. So again, which comes first, you in the womb or your consciousness? Everything is a singularity of the NOW. There is no such actual thing as “then”. So to argue that being in the womb “then” is the direct cause of your consciousness NOW is to elevate conceptual paradigms over reality.
Not so easy, is it? LOL 🙂 ‘
To attempt to argue, “I know I was then because I know I am now” is logical fallacy. If what you know you always know NOW, then NOW is the frame of reference for ALL knowledge. What you didn’t know then cannot thus be the source or the proof of what you NOW know: that you exist. For that makes awareness the direct product of mindlessness; knowledge the direct product of ignorance. Impossible.
So what is the difference between Jason in the womb or as a baby and Jason NOW? It is merely Jason NOW conceptualizing via his singularity of consciousness the relative movement of himself to some other object he observes or senses NOW: His baby picture; or his mother’s stories of her thirty-six hour labor, for example.
And finally, just because some other conscious agent, like your mother, observes her relative relationship with other objects or agents, even YOU as a baby, in a specific conceptual way from the singular frame of reference of her SELF, doesn’t mean that this agent can declare that relative relationship specifically conceptualized to her singular consciousness as the causal force of YOUR conscious frame of reference, which is equally singular, and IS, and IS always NOW.
Like I said, reality is NOT a function of concepts, but by the conscious singularity of INDIVIDUAL selves. Our relationships with others is always relative. Your mom’s relationship with you as a baby is NOT the defining context for your relationship with your SELF as a baby. You have no context for that relationship except via your singular, absolute conscious frame of reference NOW.
ACTUALITY, is far different from “conceptual reality”. And that’s precisely what I’m trying to explain. And as far as I know, no one has ever looked at existence this way, which is why it is so fucking hard to parse out and why I will expect comments and viewership to decline steadily as I roll along, the ticker tape clicking as I rack up more and more articles which deny the causal power of everything we think makes the universe go round. I hope people keep reading because even though this stuff will tax the ever loving hell out of your brain and keep you up at night like it does me, it is worth it. It is necessary. It is life affirming, period. It makes you ABSOLUTELY you. And only from this place can anything, even God, Himself, have any efficacy or truth. And no longer will we be captive to the ideas and concepts of the relative existence of OTHERS; instead, we will be free to truly be ourselves, without fear of moral offense for our existence, or retribution for not committing suicide in the name of some outside “law” or “standard” or “idea” or “group”, which is always simply DEATH, because we will realize that when we concede that we ARE, we concede that our life IS, and therefore being Jason and Lydia and Oasis and Argo and John Immel and Paul Dohse and A Mom is GOOD, and that nothing and no one can take that away from us. And God will affirm us. Because it is He that grants this reality of eternal life to those who fully believe that they already have it NOW. Belief in Jesus is belief in the moral perfection and everlasting IS of your SELF. There is no such thing as death for those who roundly condemn death as a concept which is false…a lie, and it has NO power over us.