The Basics

Grrrreat. Another hippie telling me that I’m wrong because I might not be right.

My first roommate was a great guy, the sweetest man on the continent. He’d be playing didgeridoo with friends when I got home from work, and later on moved to his synth and drum computer to improvise melodies, using the same chords every time. He used headphones without me having to ask.

And he would ask existential questions. Most of which were unanswerable, but we’d have fun brainstorming anyway. But some questions had an answer, and I’d try and give it to him. Like the size of the universe. After a short conversation we concluded that it was not implausible that the universe was endless and stretched on forever.
But he would short-circuit over that.

“Yes… But what does ‘endless’ mean, really?”

I tried to explain that no one can imagine, but that doesn’t mean we can’t work with it mathematically. Just because it is too complex for us to understand, doesn’t mean it can’t exist.

“Yes but what does it mean? Does it even exist? I mean… do we even exist?”

I’d lose him right then. From this point on, his reasoning cascaded into a spiraling question, wondering if just because we see it, does it exist?

Humanity’s first reasoning was based on the individual’s observation. An apple landed at Isaac Newton’s feet and if you take a moment to find out, the mathematical conclusions he drew will blow your mind. His laws are not to be fucked with.

My observations might be wrong. I only see my side of the apple so I can never be perfectly certain that the other side is actually there. There is no way for me to prove it, since there will always be a side that I cannot see. But if I saw it 0.3 seconds ago, I can damn well assume that it looks quite similar to the side facing me, right? And if I drop it, where will it go? Up, sideways, northeast, diagonally? No down. Right. As I open my hand, we will both turn our eyes down because that’s where we expect it to end up.

Tie this into your ears, as we say in Dutch: Reality exists outside our observation. There is a world out there even when we shut our eyes.

Can I prove it perfectly? No.
But for as long as you can’t accept that there is a certain gap to be jumped, and jump it, you will get stuck in that same spiral as my roommate, so uncertain of everything that you can’t move on and reason further.

When I make a statement, I might be wrong. Even when it concerns something painfully obvious, I might still be. But, for the sake of sanity, let’s agree that unless shown otherwise, we can assume the things we both know to be true, actually are. If not, we might as well part ways and sit drooling in front of our tv.

I do not have the truth in my hands, I know that. Just because I say it, doesn’t make it so. But if I support it on reasoning and observation, no one can state that that is not good enough. I’m a little tired of people assuming that I am wrong, because neither my reasoning or observation is flawless.

This goes double for questions regarding ethics.
Like with Newton’s apple, let’s go through the basics:
Some person beats you and breaks your tooth. Enjoyable? Probably not. Wanna try that again? Probably not.
So we note: Breaking of teeth, negative effect. Rather not.

Using the same method, we continue:
Torture – Negative.
Murder – Negative.
Rape – Negative.
Consensual rumpus – Positive.
Medical aid – Positive.
Human rights – Positive.

The basics are pretty fucking simple and I’m sick of pretending that they’re not. Are there exceptions? Probably! Could I be mistaken? Yes.
Does that mean I’m wrong? No!

I am willing to accept that I am way off, if you give me a valid reason. That way, we can both work on our ideas and end up with a better world. Remember better? That thing we were working towards before you got lost in your forest of doubt, before you gave up on your thoughts because of some misplaced, false sense of humbleness? Yes, false, because if you truly believed that your most basic beliefs are not to be trusted, you’d be on the floor spazzing out. You must have some inkling of an idea of what’s going on, right? So let’s pick up those pieces and use them as kindling to build a fire.

We can reach amazing heights with that limited brain of ours, even more so when we soar together. But for this, we have to agree that what we are sketching, is correct despite the ever-present possibility that it’s not.

Our life could be trapped within the matrix. It could be a dream. It could be the afterlife of our existence in another dimension. It could be anything or everything at once. But if we are to make it an enjoyable experience for us all, let’s assume that’s it’s fucking not and get a move on. And even if we turn out to be mistaken, at least we were good at being wrong. It’s good to second-guess oneself once in a while, but don’t make it a waste of energy, lest you cut off your own wings.

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One response

  1. Pingback: 1. Brain on a Wire |

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