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

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