Cogito ergo est

I think about thinking and find that it is more than all I can think about.

Thinking represents a bigger change for the universe than it does for us – because we represent that change.  The big changes for us come of what we think.  In any case, there is something unique about thinking, something that we know about uniquely from the inside.

That we think locates thought, not as a subjective retreat but as a substantive presence in existence; and if we are to assume anything about a universe that is bigger than us, it is that it begins for us in the presence of thought – a presence of which we are a part – a thinking presence that is more than all we can think about by reference to ourselves alone.  We are internal to all that is not confined to us

And the clearest view of ‘external reality’ is not by the assumption of an extended physical realm as a matter of primary necessity, but by way of a wider reality that embraces us as a fact of inevitable distinction – a facilitating mental realm.  For we do not awaken to the panoply of a sentient universe in the belief that it has merely awakened in us, or as something that is secondary to a ‘real’ universe that is devoid.

Mike Laidler

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The ‘dark matter’ of science

There is more to existence than can be captured by that part of it called explanation, because explanation is merely a part of it.  Accordingly, there is a dark matter in science that science attributes to the ‘dark matter’ of the universe – the 95% of the ‘known’ universe that remains inexplicable.  This inexplicability is currently described as the problem of ‘dark matter’ and ‘dark energy’, as if the problem lies with the facts of nature.  However, the problem of explanation does not rest with the facts of nature, for science’s inability to explain is actually explanation’s inability to explain.

Explanation is a selective statement of fact that reveals, upon reflection, a fact about itself – that there are many ways to look at reality, but no way to see it as a whole.  And the selectivity in explanation creates the parameters of the inexplicable – in terms of what is necessarily excluded.  It doesn’t matter whether this is intentional or unintentional, the result is the same – explanation carries a cost that we accept as a fair trade, a price that we are willing to pay to find out what we want to know.  And so long as the knowledge we glean accords with the facts we know about, we are content to claim that the facts can’t be wrong, as if the facts are the source of their explanation, indeed as if knowledge belongs to those facts.  Factual knowledge becomes the agency of its own ignorance.

The relative nature of explanation highlights a longstanding problem of what it actually explains, for explanation has to be more than a matter of faith or acceptance, indeed it purports to be more.  But the whole basis of explanation sits on a point of faith – that one thing explains another – so the universe owes its explanation to something else – facts that we deem ourselves privileged to know from a position of neutrality.  However nothing is altogether neutral, not even the ‘nothingness’ of dark matter, and especially the urge to know.  Everything known is relative to a point of reference.  We tentatively proceed to commission explanations as ‘objective’ observers of reality, but objectivity is a subtle version of subjectivity, for there can be no objective point of view without a point of view – objectivity owes its existence to a subjective presence.

All knowledge attests to a fact that objectivity tries to preclude – the inexplicable nature of subjectivity in the fact of the known, in the nature of existence itself.  Explanation has much to do with what is said to be the fact of the matter, on the premise that it is the ‘objective’ facts that are saying something about themselves.  We like to think that the fact of a mental entity sitting in the midst of the universe has no relevance to the place or form of explanation, so we believe that the place of explanation is outside us, thereby giving credibility to explanation – and to make doubly sure that our explanations are not misunderstood as belonging to us, we claim that they belong to science, as if science is out there waiting to explain things for us.

Unfortunately this view of explanation is a myth and its fault lines are evident once we stop keeping faith.   The myth is built on a false belief in what causality explains.  We believe that everything has a cause and that causes explain how things change.  But there is a problem; whereas we can see how this works in reality, in our perceptions of reality, it fails as an explanation of how ‘existence got here’ – that is, in the realities outside our participation as subjective entities, where the explanation of the universe and existence is meant to be found.  Our view on causality represents our predilection toward the idea of what comes first – first being a fact of elevated psychological significance in our partial viewpoint on reality.

Explanation doesn’t work as an explanation of existence if explanation implies that everything owes its existence to something else – for the evidence we uncover as a validation of that paradigm merely pushes the problem back one stage, into the realms of dark explanation, currently manifesting as the ‘dark matter’ and ‘dark energy’ of science.  And the problem gathers momentum with the observation that everything has a definitive cause – as if the change, of which causality is the vehicle, is explained by hitching a ride.

Paradoxically, the energy invested in the elevated status of explanation is the true dark matter awaiting its enlightenment in the realisation that explanation neither explains things for us nor ourselves in the bargain.  Science sees the problem otherwise, in terms of a shortage of facts, in terms of the dark matter out there in nature, on the premise that matter is a conversion of energy explicable by the fact that it happens.  But how are we to calculate a conversion of energy, such as we are, to exist in the midst of the universe in a form that is animated to explain itself and the rest of existence in the process?   Are we not deluding ourselves that existence is inherently explicable because it happens, in the same way that our explanations are intrinsically viable because they ‘explain’.

 

Mike Laidler

The paradox of the real

Reality is a confluence of the is, the was and the will be. We live in a universe that is going somewhere in the process of becoming more than it was.

(Starting points)

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Everything is subject to change: we change, nature diversifies, the universe evolves, and in the process something ‘impossible’ happens – things become more than they were – and the same thing happens to the nature of nature.

(Strong personality)

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The facts we illuminate and explain in nature don’t reason or find things out about themselves.

(Where is reason?)

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In the light of the universe becoming of its prior absence, ‘absence’ denotes the fact of a reality to redefine the bounds of ‘reality’.

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Every thing amounts to less than everything in a universe that begins as ‘nothing’.

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Change is the paradox of things becoming what whey were not.

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Reality exceeds explanation – things are simultaneously one thing and another.

(Where is reason?)

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To see that the reason we find in nature is the reason we give to nature is to know of a nature beyond.

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The fact of sentient existence opened up a new reality in the universe that could be predicted only retrospectively.

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In a paradoxical world, belief is the possibility inviting us to entertain impossibilities that just might be true.

(Believing in belief).

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Our realisations are the founders of realities yet to be.

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The contradictions of paradox serve to show us that there is more to truth and reality than the dictates of reason and experience.

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The ‘real’ and ‘unreal’ share an uncertain boundary between what is and what can be.

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There is now a mindfulness in the midst of the universe’s physicality whereby nature now incorporates features of rational activity quite unlike the properties of nature as it was.

(Tidings of reason).

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The mind in nature sees something nature cannot – itself.

(Where is reason?)

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Everything has a cause, including causality.  Causality is a statement of reason that the mind projects upon the world.

(Where is reason?)

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The question about what is truth converts into an issue over what may stand as proof – as if proof is the unequivocal imparter of knowledge that remains independent of what we believe.

(Believing in belief).

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In reality, proof is relative to the mind that considers something proved according to the principles it brings to the equation.

(Where is reason?)

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The universe expands into a new reality by the change to awareness and nature acquires a new nature quite unlike itself.

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No fact does our thinking for us, not even in the brain.

(Where is reason?)

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Paradoxes serve to remind us of the limits of the ‘real’ as paradigms of reality.

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The something else by which we explain our existence ‘as’ shows that we are something else to the ‘as’ as it is.

 Mike Laidler

Where is reason?

The mind in nature sees something nature cannot – itself.  It introduces unique faculties into nature, such as intention, design and reason.  Reason is regarded as our ‘highest’ faculty – a fact seen as a part of nature and apart from nature.  We observe that the facts we illuminate and explain in nature don’t reason or find things out about themselves; nevertheless, we conclude that everything belongs to something else that causes it to be the way it is.  We use our unique faculty of reason to tell ourselves that we are not alone, adducing that our perception of the world as it is, is caused by the world as it is.

Everything has a cause, including causality.  Causality is a statement of reason that the mind projects upon the world.  We impute powers to causes by identifying with them the fact of change – as if the cause holds the answer – as if nature explains life or the brain explains thought and reason.  But causality isn’t the whole story.  We create explanations in reason by identifying one fact with another, cause with effect, now said to be ‘the reason’ that the facts have given us.    But reason is a fact of mind that is unlike any other fact that other facts ‘alone’ can supply – in the body, brain, nature, number, pattern, process, structure, order or evolution.  The mind is a fact in addition, a reality uniquely placed to recognise a change in reality, beginning with itself – a change that is then ‘explained’ by causes acting mindlessly, without will or reason, leading some thinkers to deduce that the mind is an illusion.

Explanation is not all it seems.  Causality ‘explains’ one thing in terms of another, and we think that the same applies to our thinking because the mind cannot be fundamental.  But reality exceeds explanation – things are simultaneously one thing and another – perception does and does not mirror the world, the molecular world is and is not alive, nature does and does not comprise and compose our intentions.  Reason pursues the fact of the ‘must be’, but paradoxical facts defy reason and rob us of the conclusiveness we try to invest in an objective world, nevertheless we proceed to draw conclusions by ignoring their paradoxical nature, and our own – we consider that the mind may be prone to illusion but reason cannot be – so paradox is resolvable by the ‘hard’ facts upon which our reasoning rests because fact is definitive and paradox poses but a temporary contradiction in terms.

In explanation, the terms are everything.  We begin by naming things, then proceed to draw connections.  We call it reasoning.  Reasoning seeks to explain itself by referencing its terms to a world outside, but ‘outsides’ are facts relative to ‘insides’.  We project our reasoning onto the world, to find it there – thereby to attribute our reasons to the facts.  We distil from our findings the principles that are ‘there to be discovered’ from all our observations, thereby to construe a fact that pre-empts proof – that things are not alone.  Proof requires the equation of one thing with another, so our reasons are seen to gain their authority from principles that are bigger than us, in reasons that equate to the facts of an outside world, in facts acting without reason or intention.

Likewise, science is an application of reasoning to a world outside.  We see the world as filled with science; but we don’t really find ‘science’ there, except that we create the fact of science in the world.  In reality, proof is relative to the mind that considers something proved according to the principles it brings to the equation.  Furthermore, because reality is bigger than science, we find that the ‘facts of science’ amount to no more than our interim conclusions.  Undaunted, we conclude that science belongs to the outside world, as if our reasoning can now be validated as a fact of science, in facts that can be discovered to speak for themselves.   But however conclusive we may find the facts to be, the fact remains that only minds draw conclusions.

No fact does our thinking for us, not even in the brain.  Finding the cause of thought in the brain does not explain the change to thought in the nature of a physical world, neither does attributing that change to evolution.  Meanwhile, we continue to invest our reasoning in the facts by seeking to confirm a match, thereby to conclude that there is an ultimate conclusiveness to be found ‘out there’, in the facts of the external world.  But our humility veils our hubris; for in deducing that the mind also owes its source to those same externals, we give ourselves the authority to claim that there is nothing better to conclude, since the facts must select our conclusions – facts telling us that reason is grounded – confirming the fact of what is there, as if what is the case is better known from the nature of something else, as if reason resolves the paradox of change by proving that things change without really changing.

© Mike Laidler

Starting Points

Reality is a confluence of the is, the was and the will be. We live in a universe that is going somewhere in the process of becoming more than it was. We see ourselves in two worlds – the mental and the physical. Our mental world is characterised by thoughts and feelings, but it is not a world we can easily ascribe to a physical world outside. Yet we readily explain mentality in terms of its dependence on the physical, believing there can be no other source of its existence. This is because there is a part of the physical world that we claim as ours and identify with in our thoughts, namely the brain.

So we bear witness to an externality that merges with our subjective internality; but this is not an explanation because we also know that these two realities are worlds apart, unless we mean to claim that the physical world already incorporates a primitive form of consciousness. However, no explanation has ever done justice to our perspective on the difference, a perspective that occurs only because we have crossed the threshold into subjectivity.

Then is it not feasible to take our ideas off in another direction, beginning with the idea that subjectivity is a distinct property of existence that manifests in the physical under specific conditions, an example being ourselves? But still we are left with unsolved puzzles – of the origins of subjectivity in particular and physical existence in general, which remain unexplained, yet which we temporarily believe to be explained, at least in our case, by their observable association.

Perhaps we confound ourselves in thinking that change is explicable by tracing it to the point from which it is first observed. This is a rational notion so far as the observation of starting-points allows, but it soon becomes dubious when we try to hang onto the idea that change is explicable as a property of the things changing, as if change itself can be explained by those things as they were, unchanged and insensible – as if everything has to be the one thing, of the one nature, because it all has to have the same starting point.

© Mike Laidler 2015