Cause or effect – which is first?
The cause, obviously
– until you discover
that every cause is also an effect
of something that happened beforehand,
Then we live in a world of effects
which we presume to observe
as a chain of causes
by relegating the truth
to an original cause
that defies explanation.
What is the presence of mind that enables us to look out upon reality and see ourselves there? Whence becomes this consciousness of which we are aware? Are we passive receptors, or active participants? Is it wholly identifiable as a brain function, or does its ‘virtual reality’ transcend the physical? Either way, what is our basis for recognition – by what event are we able to detect its presence and recognise its effects?
But what constitutes ‘the real? In being conscious, how do we tell the difference between the real and the imaginary, or know that we have an imagination? In fact, how can we tell that our explanations are not another source of delusion? For instance, what makes us so sure that nothing can be larger than its physical causes, or proof equates one fact to another and explanation finalises the truth?
Then what makes something ‘more or less real’? Doesn’t a sentient presence add a new dimension to reality – so that, even as consciousness remains embedded in the physical world, it also occupies a mental space of unprecedented possibilities? And what other fact could render this evidence demonstrable without the transcending fact of our awareness? Thereby, we engage in a reality that is enlarged by the conscious phenomena of its perception, even though explanation portrays the action the other way round.
(Epistle to Stephen Hawking c.1993)
When all that is possible
When all that is now
There still holds the potential
in a time to begin again.