No fact exists alone. Every perceptible fact is the manifestation of a state of existence relative to the existence of other facts. Thereby every fact is distinguishable by what it is and isn’t, including the ‘fact of existence’. Then life is and is not a prominent feature of the way things are – because reality amounts to a continuum of changes that can be traced backwards as a convergence upon what was and forwards as a divergence from the past. Consequently, whatever importance can or cannot be attached to the nature of ‘things in themselves’, it remains a fact that the difference they make is set within a wider reality.
In every case, we may perceive a fact in terms of its origins in something else – that is, relative to some other fact identifiable as its cause. But even then we can never see an ‘original cause’ as it is, on its own, since every cause is manifestly incomplete in the absence of an effect. In turn, effects are seen to make a difference when it becomes apparent that things differ from the way they were – a difference which at first contrasts with the state of ‘the cause’ as it was and afterwards with ‘the effect’ as it furthers a succession of changes.
However, causes do not explain existence. For instance, we do not find the nature of life in the non-living states of its precursors; and it is only after its appearance that we can begin to look for its causes there. So we perceive life as a fact that is wrapped up in a continuum of factors which we cannot explain fully in terms of the way things were – because of the essential ingredient of change. Therefore we can neither explain this vital factor retrospectively as an ‘originating cause’ nor in terms of the difference ‘it makes’, which becomes consummate only in the wake of things yet to be.
We may feel that we can get to know a thing better by explaining it in terms of something else, indeed science depends upon this philosophy, but there is also a sense in which it doesn’t make sense – and the best example is ourselves.
Consider the perceived difference between our thoughts and the brain. First we must recognise a difference in order to talk about a cause, otherwise there is nothing to talk about. Then we suppose that the cause must explain things – especially if there is nothing else to see. Yet something else remains evident in the change, now perceived as an effect. However, saying that the cause has changed to create that difference leaves the fact of the change unexplained and renders the effect redundant. Typically, we diminish the reality of the difference in order to explain it by attributing the emergent properties of the effect to the cause – as if ‘causality shows us’ that change doesn’t really occasion a shift in reality. Thereby we conclude that new events, such as thought or consciousness, are really superficialities that cannot amount to changes in the nature of nature. In other words, we concede, for the sake of explanation, that change is not all it seems – as if a talking nature is really not so different in kind from one that never did, now seen as the cause.
Moreover, the mind and the body amount to differences in reality which we can’t explain by supposing that reality must be a singular ‘thing’. Indeed we are no more able to explain reality in terms of ‘things real’ than we can explain the existence of existence. In fact, we can’t pin the ‘it’ down. And perhaps reality is a fact we cannot define because it can also be seen to define us – in more ways than one. So when people say that mind and body are one and the same thing, they are calling them the same in the name of an incomplete explanation – as if causality is a thing in existence that explains the origin of things in existence and automatically clears-up the problem of change. Also, we are looking at ‘the reality’ retrospectively by leaving out of the analysis the significance of the looking – as if the change to observation can be seen as a subsidiary effect. But we have yet to explain the change to perception, together with the evidence, of itself, of the effect that occupies an additional reality to the cause – a difference that cannot be accounted for by saying that there is no real change, as if the fact of change is subsidiary to the cause instead of the other way round.
Being is an agent of change – redefining the facts – introducing sensibilities into a nature without, realising meanings that are inexplicable in terms of a purposeless nature or in terms of chance having charge of order. Thus we occupy a nature that is the same and different – that has changed through one nature building on another – supplying new directions.
Then in what nature lies the belief that ‘nature’ defines our beliefs and governs the reality: that reality shapes itself, evolution creates and the runes of destiny are set in stone – as if life is somehow created by unliving powers, or the passive stones engineer their building and the undeniable presence of intention remains quite unintended?