by Jaime Morrison
don't take this personally but your depth of sensation, though perhaps impressive echoing as it does in the enclosed space of your own mind, is stunted. comically so in fact. your five senses, on which you rely totally, are capable of offering you only the tiniest subset of the total information available for you to process. your mind unceremoniously filters out large segments of this already reduced sensory payload immediately upon arrival and interprets the fractional amount of data remaining. this mind of yours is a dynamo of hubris, presumptuously drawing all manner of conclusion with only the most circumstantial evidence. were it a prosecutor its case would be thrown out. and yet this mind of yours has the audacity to tell you what "reality" is and what "you" are.
this might be a bit embarrassing if "you" actually existed.
but i do exists! and how dare you insinuate otherwise?!
well, then, by all means prove it. you have the floor.
look at me! i'm tearing a phone book in half! i'm going over niagara falls in a barrel! i'm stomping on an ant! yeah, i'm crushing an ant under my heel. ask him whether i exist or not!
ah yes. that machine which is your body... it would seem a great ally when seeking to prove your existence - but then we're not really talking about your bones and spleen and nostril hairs here are we? or do you consider your physicality to be interchangeable with your "self"?
well, not exactly...
good. because while you are running for office and reading poetry and murdering a stranger in an alleyway, your body is busy with other matters, like keeping your blood oxygenated, doling out nutrients, and making sure you don't walk into any blazing fires; that kind of thing. truth be told, your body is probably not all that interested in the trifles "you" are. your body's got work to do. "you" probably just get in the way more times than not.
but here i am! right here in front of you. isn't that proof enough?
you are not solid and discrete you realize of course? but rather a near-infintely divisible collection of processes and smaller units. likewise what you consider your body is just such a smaller unit in processes larger than yourself. in trying to prop up your physicality as proof of anything you may as well call a carbon molecule, a dust mite, a bacteria colony, some oxygen, and a pool of bile to the witness stand. none of them would be able to prove that the "you" we are referring to exists.
i think! if i think then i am!
that is an oddity isn't it? with all the work your brain is doing to coordinate the many functions and processes at work in your body, with all the attention it must pay to just keep you from killing yourself it's a wonder it has any space to spare for, well, "you." if we're being totally honest we must admit that whole swaths of what the "self" is up to in the ol' noggin is not strictly necessary on a biological level don't we? so maybe your onto something. perhaps the degree to which your concerns diverge from the biological imperative of your physicality influences the degree to which "you" exist?
of course by that logic suicides would be the pinnacle of existence and they are, well, dead...
listen, arguing that something does not exist presupposes that existence itself exists as a viable option. if that's the case and things can indeed exist then why not "me"?
ah. you've got me there haven't you smarty pants? o.k. i'll admit it the question of existence is a semantic one, or at least that's what my dynamo of hubris tells me. it's a language game. which is to say that though engaging in a discussion on the subject may be interesting, the conclusions arrived at change exactly nothing.
for example if a think tank of ontologists, neurologists, anthropologists, and poets fed their notions into a computer the size of a football stadium, capable of a zillion terra flops per second, and that computer managed to prove beyond mathematical doubt that "you" did not, could not, exist... well, you'd still have to frantically search out a bathroom after a large coffee and cinnabon in the mall's food-court tipped your bowels decidedly toward full.
so what are you saying? i do exist?
no. what i'm saying is that you should relax and stop worrying about it because whether you "exist" or not makes zero difference one way or the other. you're still obliged to wake up each morning and navigate the shared delusion we've agreed to call reality. there's no getting around it. call the experience whatever "you" like.
Labels: Reasons Why 'You' Don't Exist