What does it mean to exist? What is our place in existence? What makes nature ‘necessarily so’, perceptible, or an ‘it’? What makes us think that we can capture it in our concepts any more than we can lay claims upon the world through the possession of bodies? What if it is all transitory and our temporary presence is but a faint speck in the ‘cosmic panoply’ – an integration of ‘material’ and ‘mental’ dimensions in which notions of ‘our time’ and ‘our experiences’ furnish vain illusions of self-importance?
However, just as time extends space and vice versa, so the various perceptible dimensions – such as energy, matter, life, consciousness and thought – may be seen to co-exist ‘in nature’ as an extended reality that is simultaneously one thing and another. Hence we cannot specify ‘being’ in terms of the way things are or were, nor ourselves for that matter, any more than we can know the extent of the mind in terms of our contemporary thinking – since there is more to existence than we can find ‘in existence’.
Nature baffles us – it is so ingrained in the imagination that we can’t help but to see ‘it’ as ‘a thing’ ‘out there’, and so we claim to know things as ‘nature shows us’. However, ‘nature’ shows us different things that confound logic with facts that change the character of the truth we are able to discern. For instance, it is evident, on the one hand, that nature has no grand design or purpose for life, and there is no goal to evolution – yet we act with purposes as a part of nature and work towards artificial goals that nature does not have, therefore cannot give us – though, on the other hand, ‘it must’ if we truly ‘belong to nature’. And even when the truth is as definitive as X = Y, it doesn’t mean that we don’t need to take account of the observable difference. But the logic of explanation avers that one thing can be seen as a form of the other, as if the difference is superficial and amounts to no real difference – as if the change can be accounted for by the underlying sameness.
Seeing one thing in terms of another begins with the observation of a difference that explanation then tries to lose with the claim that everything is really one thing – so ‘we are really nothing more than chemical entities’ – mere versions of the common fabric of the universe. These causal extrapolations also get applied to observable differences within the living world, such as between our sentient thoughts and brain functions – so that ‘thinking is nothing more than something the brain does’. Nevertheless, we continue to wonder what it means for thinking to exist at all, knowing that the abstract truths of explanation don’t amount to the whole truth – knowing that awareness is alien to the ‘nature of nature’ in a universe ‘explicable’ by its physical laws – in a universe that doesn’t aspire to know or explain itself, yet does, through us, since we exist as a part of that universe – a universe in which the possibilities for life, thought, meaning, purpose and perception equate to a larger truth in which ‘blind nature’ and the physical laws add up to a lesser fact.
The past may be seen to predict the future for all solid-state elements in a mechanistic universe. This excludes the sub-elements of the quantum universe and the supra-elements of the sentient universe.
However, what is known of the quantum universe, in the context of the everyday physical reality that is ‘more real’ to us, is that the peculiarities of the former support, but don’t resemble the nature of the latter, which can be seen to exist in addition, ‘on top’ – in a supra-reality that now includes the fact of the seeing.
Only it seems that we have yet to learn this lesson with respect to the sentient universe regarding itself, a lesson that can only begin by recognising it as a reality known to be peculiar to the nature of itself – a reality as real as the peculiar nature of solid rock, which we also know is really not solid in a different reality.
Perhaps the difference is due to the diverging nature of reality, whereby what is and what ‘is next’ simultaneously occupy different realities. And as we learn that there is more to existence than either quantum or Newtonian physics can explain, we know that we can know it because of our first-hand experience of a peculiar reality of a different order – of knowing, learning and explanation in a reality that simultaneously occupies the physical universe, yet is not peculiar to it.
If there is a bigger scheme of things in which life and death are part, then is it not possible that death is no opponent of life, or neutraliser of personal existence, any more than individuality is our creator?
No thing compares to nothingness without the creation of an infinity in comparison. So compared to nothingness, the existence of something is already infinitely greater than the ‘antithesis’ it is seen to replace, even when that infinity is condensed into the presence of a ‘single atom’ – displacing the infinity of ‘nothingness’ into a different universe.
And the reality that prevails over all seems to be an infinity of infinities, created in no small part by our attempts to see it as something finite.
The singularly most significant singularity behind all singularities in aeons of universes to become, is the power of becoming, which we know of indirectly by its manifest non-random implications in this universe.
“Whatever the big bang was, it must have been a state of very very small entropy – a highly organised state.” – Sir Roger Penrose, Copernicus Centre Lecture 2010: ‘Aeons before the Big Bang’.
Evolution is meant to have its limits, it is not meant to be everything, and it is meant to be understood within those limits; otherwise it will set limits to our understanding, otherwise we will tend to see it as the it that is meant to make possibility possible.
We see nature revolving around evolution and its possibilities, instead of looking at evolution revolving around nature and its possibilities. We see things change and call it evolution, and then we say the evolution explains the change. Yet evolution is not everything. It does not determine the possibility of what can happen, though it certainly appears to – that is, if certainty can be attributed to appearances. But did Copernicus not teach us a lesson in that regard?
“It’s true to say that evolution is not an ascent. There is no march towards complexity in evolution.” Professor Brian Cox. (20.10.14). http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-29686627