I watched a fun little program “Young Sheldon” were he’s started college and a philosophy course (season 4#7). Of course the professor is introducting Descartes’ lesson: “I think therefore I am.” In excellent comedic form it portrays the existential trap those few words can create.
The class resulted in young Sheldon realizing that it was all in his head!
Ergo, he can’t be sure of anything, ergo, nothing matters, and so on.
I like thinking this existential crisis is a right of passage for all introspective individuals. I enjoyed the treatment of the topic and my thoughts have been going back to it for a couple days now.
So guess it’s time to write it out of my system.
Okay, Descartes came up with a compelling philosophical conclusion, the only thing we people could know for sure is the thoughts within our head. It’s the best he could do back then, before 1650. Meaning Descartes was never in a position to seriously ask the next question. Therefore, our thoughts/consciousness remained the domain of God given gifts.
Because no other explanation was imaginable.
This is 2024, we have enough accumulated evolutionary, physiologic, neurologic knowledge these days to have an impressively detailed understanding of neurology and most all* the different levels of bodily sensing organs and how they work together with the body and external environment and circumstance, to produce our thoughts and consciousness and sense of qualia. (*the march of science is full of surprises)
Look closely at Charmers Hard Problem, it’s a religious quest recalling ancient debates, but not a serious modern scientific question. It is a philosophical artifact, and an impossible scientific question.
To be confused about why a bat feels like a bat, is to ignore the evolutionary origins of the bats biology. A bat feels like a bat, because it inhabits a bat’s body and exists within a bat’s reality. What else could it possibly feel like, and if it felt like nothing it was eaten out of existence long ago. Our body is what creates the absolute sense of self and qualia.
Why does a rose smell like a rose, the qualia? That stuff is like expecting nature to prove itself to us.
The qualia of a rose, or a lover, is created by the entire body interacting with its environment and circumstance in a symphony, folds within folds of constructive harmonic poetry in motion produces the qualia within our thoughts - the “stuff” of your body, getting on with living and communicating with itself.
That isn’t simply poetic words, neurological scientists are imaging various signaling, thinking, consciousness cascading through our body/brain in ever increasing detail. The thing to realize is that it’s not limited to the brain creating our thoughts, it’s our body/brain.
Brains have tendrils reaching into every millimeter of our body, with independent outposts throughout gastrointestinal system, and other support systems for their own obvious, evolutionary reasons.
Very recently medical science has discovered that the connective tissues between our various muscle bundles, are way more involved in monitoring the body than ever suspected. Scientists have a great deal of internally consistent evidence - enough to say with pragmatic certainty that our Consciousness is the inside reflection of our bodies in action. (Solms)
There is no need for cosmic skyhooks, it’s Earth where life was created and thrived. That’s where awareness and consciousness is needed! Thinking has been getting honed since the first cells started thriving. That is profoundly important information for starting to understand yourself, your - me, myself, and I.
The Answers are to be found in Evolution.
Gaining a deep bottom up biological understanding of where your own body came from is empowering. Like solving a great puzzle and arriving at home. Finding that science can help me make sense of the philosophical questions that have plagued minds since forever. That feels big to me. I know who I am. Simple and wonderful.
If the afterlife is important, having a deep awakening that one is a filament in Earth’s Evolutionary Pageant, becomes very comforting. When the dynamo of your body dies, and consciousness expires, your echo’s remain. All you touched had rippling impacts. This gives me reason to try and do good and be good, and hope when I fail.
The realization that life is short, your moment is now, embrace it, use it or lose it.
Where does that leave our gods?
Probably pretty much where they are now.
God’s are infused in the power that people want to put into them.
That will never change.
But, for god sake, can we please start recognizing that the Physical Reality, the stuff on the other side of our thoughts, that is the biology, the geology, the global heat and moisture distribution engine that creates Earth and us, all of that - is beyond the purview of our Gods.