“There is an objective reality in that the chair I’m sitting on really exists whether I will admit its existence or whether I’ll philosophize that maybe its only a form that exists in a Platonic world of ideas. Is admitting the actual existence of this chair somehow embracing a causal universe?”
This quote is an excerpt from a comment left by David Brainerd (for the record, I don’t think David is a brain nerd at all, even though he admits to working with computers for a living); you can view his entire comment in the comments section of the previous essay.
The specific question “Is admitting the actual existence of this chair somehow embracing a causal universe?” is what I would like to address in this essay…because it’s a good question and I understand that the previous essay was fairly “semantics” heavy, so to speak. It’s important that I clear this up, otherwise it becomes too easy and convenient to categorize my ideas as Primacy of Consciousness, in the John Immel philosophical universe where Primacy of Consciousness and Primacy of Existence metaphysics are the only two gangs in town. Like the old Crips versus Bloods wars. In other words, you either concede the existential power of cause and effect in the form of Nature’s Laws which govern, or you are a mystic who is holding open the door for Armageddon. However, I unabashedly claim that to concede the power of man’s ability to conceptualize his environment with himself as the only rational standard in order to organize what is a material universe which is entirely relative in its existence and interactions (and I submit that this is an axiom) is merely conceding the obvious. For I defy anyone to name a singular, constant, material reference by which one can objectively define and quantify object interaction and existence in the Universe OUTSIDE of their own SELF; for YOU are the only constant in the entire Universe, and that cannot be denied, because in order to do so one would HAVE to deny it from the context of SELF, which automatically nullifies their argument and renders it impossible, thus proving my point instantaneously and categorically.
Without man’s ability to conceptualize himself and his surroundings, there can be no actual, efficacious, measurable, or valuable reality. And the only way to argue contrary to this is to identify a singular frame of reference for reality OUTSIDE of man…that is, in the Universe. Since this cannot be done, I must rest on reason to guide truth; and so–if I may be so bold–should you. You cannot claim truth if you cannot define a standard by which you can say what is true or not…or rather, better said, why what is true or not. And advocates of a causal Universe (a Universe wholly determined by the Laws of Physics) can have no such standard; and so I must insist that it is they who declare such a Universe who destroy human cognition, and not those of use who declare man’s ability to know himself and–from that frame of reference–to define his reality so that it serves and confirms his comfort, promotion, and inherent moral worth. For those who laud a causal Universe are those who write man out of the existential equation with every abstract, mathematical or philosophical proof they scribble. And their inability to identify an objective material standard by which to proclaim their proofs TRUE, and therefore GOOD, is why they insist that the Laws of Physics, though in and of themselves entirely unobservable to and beyond the reach of man in any capacity, are in fact actual…that is, exist in their absolute and imitable realm; the wizard behind the curtain of Oz, governing all things behind galaxy-sized swathes of dark matter, even unto our very root existence.
And you might argue that, no, that’s not what they believe. And I would fire back that it matters not what they THINK they think; the imitable logical conclusions of the the very notion of cosmic Laws demands that they are nevertheless on the moral and intellectual hook for their irrational metaphysics. And I don’t need to understand the equations, nor do I need to have studied in the John Immel School of Enough Time Devoted to the Topic (Which Apparently Neither He nor Anyone Else Possesses) Leads to the Reconciliation of That Which is a Rank Logical Fallacy to rationalize the conclusion. If the conclusion is a rank contradiction, I already know that the equation must be inherently flawed. I am not obligated to study nor understand nor concede anything beyond this. You cannot rationalize that which defies the very idea by its conclusion. That is an axiom, period. To suggest I must spend time learning to arrive at a conclusion upon which can never be arrived is purely obfuscation.
“Is admitting the existence of this chair somehow embracing a causal universe?”
The real answer to this question is: It depends. Notice how, in my last essay, I did not say that admitting something exists is necessarily believing in a causal Universe. I didn’t even say that believing in an objective reality means one must necessarily accept the determinism of a causal Universe. I said that faulty and irrational determinism is a function of an “objective reality outside of man”, which is precisely the causal Universe that people like John Immel and his objectivist comrades demand. In other words, a reality governed by Laws of Nature…a reality conceded to the forces which act to cause the existence and actions and interactions of all things, including man. Even though man cannot empirically or rationally vouch for the tangible, visceral existence of such forces. Which…is pretty ironic. The very people who demand empirical verification of all opposing ideas–ideas from those like me, who do not distinguish between reason and evidence–are the very people who cannot observe the forces which are said to create the objective reality they insist everyone else obey or be deemed a fool (thus resorting to rank pretension and insults as a means to intimidate their detractors).
So the question is not whether we rationally accept an objective reality (or rather, simply “reality”…for “objective reality” seems rather redundant), but how we define that reality.
When we consider how to do that…when we consider reality, there are really only two ways to frame it. Either things “outside” of man exist “to themselves”, so to speak–meaning they have inherent meaningful, definable, qualifiable and quantifiable value in and of themselves in accordance with some organized, non-relative, non-random, purposeful, causal force which acts upon them absolutely, independent of man’s mind–that is, man’s ability to conceptually organize his environment in order to manipulate it for his own ends and for the sake of himself–or things exist “to man”. Which means that they have no inherent, non-relative, organized value or meaning or efficacy unless man observes them and bestows upon them such value via his conceptual definitions. It is by man’s ability to conceptualize his environment (which is, in fact, the whole Universe) that we get “chairs” and “cars” and “curvature of spacetime” and “trees” and “galaxy clusters”. They are a product of man’s mind, meaning that mans’ ability to conceptualize his environment is what gives any relevant meaning to what are “chairs” and “galaxies” and “orbits”, etc., which means that it is by man that these things can be said to be real…to exist. Reality has nothing relevant to do with the material substance of these things–which I do NOT deny–which is infinite (to be further discussed in an upcoming essay) and therefore infinitely relative and valueless in and of itself. But rather it has everything to do with how they are standardized TO man’s life. It is man’s ability to organize what he observes TO a reference point…TO a constant, himself, which is what creates “reality” in any relevant, valuable, or moral sense. Without such a Constant/Standard, as I have said, all material existence and object interaction is purely relative, which means it can have no actual, singular, definable, relevant, meaningful reality. Things simply are what they relatively are, relatively existing with all other objects, having no measurable singularity whatsoever; and thus it becomes impossible to describe them as even “existing”. Because…existing to what? To what reference? To what standard? To what end? To what purpose? In what context?
Without man and his ability to make SELF the infinite, singular reference point and Standard of reality, these questions can have no answer. And anything which has no relevant, definable end or purpose because it has no ascertainable context or reference cannot rationally be said to “objectively exist”. On the contrary, there is nothing objective about it. By definition a relative existence of a pointless material substance which is infinitely relative and lacking any singular reference and standard is not an objective existence, period. Full stop. An utterly relative existence is no existence at all, because what it is that is said to “exist” cannot have a any meaningful definition. And without such a definition there can be no meaningful reality. Which means there can be no reality at all because a reality which lacks any definition is not, by definition, reality.
The idea of an “objective reality” rooted in a “causal universe” (that is, a universe governed by the interminable cause and effect determinism of Natural Law) defines man in such a way that he becomes existentially and metaphysically OUTSIDE of “reality” (hence the constant reference to an “objective reality outside of man” demanded by objectivism, Marxism, Fascism, scientific determinism and its psuedo-intellectual worker bees, the evangelical Atheists). Man is a determined product of the causal forces of nature which act utterly beyond his senses (because man’s senses are a product of these causal forces…an effect, and therefore they cannot, by definition, be turned around to observe their own absolute and absolutely determinative source).
Now, what is never explained by these emissaries of “rational” determinism and scientific “evidence”, is that man, of course, cannot possibly exist in a “reality” such as this. For since man is a determined and thus absolute effect, he is an absolute function of the reality “outside” of himself…which means–if you can wrap your head around this–there is no “him”…no singular distinct SELF, to speak of. And therefore, most ironically, this makes the reality smugly demanded by these people a complete oxymoron. Since man is, again, a direct and absolute function of the laws of physics, man has no essence to call his own. Therefore, nothing is real to him by definition because he is, in fact, nothing. Which–one more time, again–makes appeals to “objective reality” even that much more absurd and hilarious.
If we say that a “chair”, or “car” or “galaxy” or a “tree” or a “micro brewery” exists as such, regardless of man and OUTSIDE of him, making his existence entirely irrelevant to these things, we are saying that man does not define his own reality, but rather, “reality”–the “external” environment–defines him. Man isn’t the one who decides that a chair is a chair…he is not the one who gets to say that the relative existence of the material substance he observes to act and move and be in a certain way in order that it can in fact relevantly and efficaciously be a chair (because it serves to promote an objective standard, that is man’s own SELF). No, somehow, on the contrary something outside of man defines and values his reality for him. God, or the the cosmic Laws of Nature, or some other all pervasive, unobservable, infinite and inexorable force–which by definition holds man and his ideas in no esteem or regard whatsoever, because it doesn’t recognize him in the first place–gets to declare that the chair is a chair. It becomes irrational and thus entirely immoral for man to have a say in how his environment is defined and organized. Because the chair, as a chair, is defined not by man but by the very concept of “chairness”which is somehow a product of the cosmos…the Laws of Nature (because man’s ability to conceptualize is irrelevant according to the metaphysics of a “causal universe”). And thus, I submit that John Immel’s point, and the point of Aristotelian philosophy (of which some is good and some is not) is that “chairness” exists regardless of what man observes or thinks. So, quite naturally, we assume that this must mean that reality has some kind of efficacious and valuable and objective definition and purpose utterly in spite of man’s own life and self and mind and context and existence. And so what is inevitably argued is that the very ideas man uses and creates out of his own mind and his own inherent ability to conceptually define and organize his environment to serve his own existence are somehow manifest in reality without him. That all of man’s thoughts and ideas and beliefs are not OF him, but are bestowed upon him by the “external” reality which categorically caused him. Which really means that there is no way for man to discern between his own mind and thoughts–which includes the most salient concept of the SELF by which he defines his own body as distinct from his environment–and his environment and the requisite causal forces which determine and govern and create everything from outside of him and thus which, by logical extension, inexorably become him. Therefore an appeal to the “objective reality outside of man” is really nothing more than a destruction of the distinction entirely.
Since man is not that which defines his own environment with himself as the supreme and singular reference point, the only conclusion to be logically arrived upon is this…and it is a conclusion which, in my experience, ultimately, sooner or later, be it John Immel, or the inestimable Paul Dohse (whom I adore), or any venerable libertarian thinker of our day, must and do concede: man is NOT and CANNOT be the root cause of his own life; and thus he cannot be the reason for his own existence. Yes, at the end of the day, even Ayn Rand is little more than a rank hypocrite. Because “reality” is a function of a reality beyond man’s own self, man cannot possibly claim the right to define himself. Man is wholly and ineluctably defined by what is NOT man. Man thus becomes a big, fat contradiction in terms. Man is no longer the source and purpose of himself…his own end (for if man is his own end, he must be his own beginning), rather he is a determined product of something entirely beyond him.
It is easy to see how this must lead to the exploitation and ultimately the destruction of humanity on shockingly large scales…and routinely does.
If man is at the mercy of and is the direct function of the forces of the causal universe–the “objective reality outside himself”–then man cannot possibly understand reality, by the very empirical definition of reality given to us. Man is OUTSIDE of reality. Which can only mean that man is not real. Again, by definition. Thus, man is not himself. Any beliefs or ideas as a function of man’s senses can only be considered illegitimate markers and definitions of reality; including his definitions and “discoveries” of the causal Laws of Nature which govern the Universe and everything in it. Man is illusory; he is false. Man cannot actually know anything himself, because he is no autonomous agent. He does not, by nature, possess the epistemological ability to make a distinction between what he is (himself…his body) and what he is NOT (his environment), which is the epistemological prerequisite to any actual knowledge man may possess. Because according to the very definition of a causal Universe, there is no distinction. ALL things are direct and determined functions of the actions of all objects which have come “before”; and the root material essence and existence of these objects is a direct function the unobservable forces of nature–the Laws of Physics.
You see, when someone preaches to you about the governing power of the Laws of Physics, the logical question begged is where does that governance end? The only rational answer is: it doesn’t. The Laws of Physics are the absolute and infinite cause of the causal Universe. They ARE then, the Universe. Which means to define the Universe as a function of the forces of the Laws of Nature is to relegate “reality” to an utterly unobservable, unknowable infinite CAUSE, which has NO effect, because everything is merely an absolute and direct function of itself, which eliminates the distinction entirely. The power of the Laws which govern does not end, and therefore, it can have no beginning. And to attempt to define reality this way is nothing more than the futile and pointless exercise of trying to parse infinity. And this is rank madness beyond all the heady language and “intellectual” equivocation and appeals to educational and cognitive pedigree. Whatever is the absolute function of a governing force IS and MUST BE that governing force, period, full stop. There is no difference between the Absolute Causal Force and that which it causes. And further, there simply is no way to make this not so. There. Is. No. Way. Not by Aristotle; not by Voltaire; not by Newton: not by Einstein; not by Hawking; not by Hitchens; not by years and years and years of study; not by anyone or anything. The Laws of Physics it must be conceded when we argue the notion of a causal Universe do not simply govern the movement of objects, but the existence of objects. And this includes the most salient of all objects, man.
It is important to understand that when we speak of “objective reality” we specify how we define it; meaning, how we rationally explain just what makes reality REAL. Is man a product of “reality”, or is man the standard by which “reality” can be defined as such, and therefore given efficacy and and value and purpose?
How we decide to answer this question is, as history has shown, quite literally the difference between life and death.
7 thoughts on “Does Reality Include Man and His Mind, or is it “Outside” of Him?”
“Like the old Crips versus Bloods wars.”
I got a good chuckle out of that. “The devil got your head confused fighin’ an insignificant war between red n’ blue’; now tell me, what you gettin if you win that, a status in a place that don’t nobody wanna live at, a life supply of props while the people at the top don’t mind you killin long as ya keep it on you’re block….” (Bizzle)
Still though, what you’re failing to realize is that there is more than one man on this planet. You say basically that the chair wouldn’t exist if you weren’t there to see it. Nay, for I would still be there to see it. So what you’re saying is only you exist and nobody else, which is the essence of narcissism. In fact, how does your philosophy differ from John Piper’s in that regard? He also basically says that nothing exists but himself, that he really exists and none of us do. That’s what’s called Calvinism, in which there is the elect (those who exist to see the chair) and the non-elect (those who don’t exist and therefore cannot see the chair, and if they protest saying “hey, we do exist; then just ignore them because no matter how loud they yell that they exist, they don’t.”).
That Bizzle quote is awesome. Thanks for sharing.
Well…I can sort of see how you might conclude that, but thats not really what I am saying. “Existence” is a concept which follows logically only after material objects-which otherwise are only infinitely RELATIVELY present wrt to the the rest of the material universe-are conceptualized and integrated into a conceptual paradigm with a singular, absolute reference. This reference I argue is the individual SELF, because our individual awareness of our own special and inexorable connection to the material object we define as “body” is the only real and rational constant we can identify. This doesn’t negate the existence of other individuals, who observably share in the ability to use the conceptual paradigm to promote their own lives. In other words, my perspective utterly affirms the true and rational and efficacious existence of material reality, which certainly does and MUST include other human beings.
Probably we agree more than is obvious. I mean, I suppose you are saying that nobody else’ perception of reality can be bound on you because it would not make sense to you and it would be intellectually dishonest (not to mention impossible) to function within it. This is the very basis of the concepts of freedom of speech and the “marketplace of idea”…namely that instead of burning each other at the stake as if we can force our perceptions onto others and then hold them morally culpable for not accepting them, we try to persuade them with words to come around to ours way of thinking. You can’t force me to see it your way; I can’t force you to see it mine; but we can debate it ad infinitum. Lol. But there’s still an objective reality; as Mulder says, “the truth is out there Scully.” Its out there…the question is just whose perception of the truth gets to be the standard? For each individual, while in this world, their own perception can be the only standard that they can actually live by, because you can’t live by something you don’t really believe. That’s why Mulder can’t stick to following the FBI’s orders and always ends up chasing flying saucers, and Scully always ends up going back to explaining everything away with “science.” But after we die, then God judges us by the objective standard. That’s last part is where its not clear what you believe. (Maybe the individual in question is John Piper; well he’s in for a rude awakening when he finds out the objective standard is not Calvinism.)
Now I have a question on this:
Are you saying that all the laws of physics are unobservable, or is this statement only applicable to a subset of the laws of physics which are indeed unobservable? Because I think the law of gravity at its most basic (setting aside the foolish theory that it is generated by mass) is observable. Anything in the air that is not being held up by a propulsion system or aerodynamic shape temporarily held up by wind, must come down. We observe that all the time. But yeah, once you get to the unobservable nonsense, like particle physics, you’re dealing with a religion hokier than worshiping the force from Star Wars because it deals in all these mythical particles and made up forces which nobody has ever observed nor ever will.
I want to cry. Stupid wordpress pretended I wasn’t logged in and erased my comment. 😦 And I made some really great X-Files references too.
Anyway the basic jist was that I agree that for each individual they can only live according to their own perception of reality. This is why in the modern world rather than burning others at the stake for not living by our perception of reality, we instead try to persuade them with words in the “market place of ideas”…at least that’s how its worked until recently, but its obviously about to change. And the fact that we can only live according to our own perception of reality is illustrated by Mulder’s inability to follow the FBI’s orders and how he always goes back to chasing flying saucers. But he’s right that “the truth is out there” because there is an objective reality, just the judge of what that is is not visible in this life; we have to wait until we leave to see him. This version is not as stylistic as my first comment; thanks wordpress. So, also, the basic law of gravity is observable, i.e. whatever is in the air but is not being effectively temporarily held up in the air by a propulsion system or aerodynamic shape combined with wind, must come down. But the theory of its being a force generated by mass is unobservable nonsense as is particle physics with all its mythical particles and forces which constitute a religion hokier than worshiping the force from Star Wars.
“but we can debate it ad infinitum.”
And we do. Lol!
And your first comment posted. It was a good one.:-)
I never actually saw the X Files, though I understand that the first couple of seasons were pretty awesome.
I will get back to your question in a bit.