Philosophy

By Frans


Existence and awareness

There is not much I know for sure. At least I am sure that something exists, and that I am aware of it. I am not even sure that anything else is aware of that something exists. I think it is possible for something to exist without anything being aware of it. I have no explaination for what awareness is, and how it is even possible that something is aware at all. These are really the two big questions:
  1. Why does there exist something at all?
  2. Why am I raising these two questions?

Abstract concepts

Besides being aware of my existence, I am also aware that I know a number of abstract concepts. Some of these concepts are: Boolean algebra, natural numbers, (three dimensional) space, change and time. I am aware of an ability to reason about abstract concepts, to manipulate sequences of symbols, a sense of mathematics. And also the use of language to represent thoughts. I am also aware of the concept of model, as a symplification of something else with a certain purpose in mind, and the ability to reason with such models.

Change and time

I am aware of constant changes. Because changes can only be observed if you can compare a state with another (previous) state, I conclude with certainty that I must have some kind of memory. Although the changes appear to be continuous, it is possible that they are discrete. They appear to happen at a constant rate and in a linear fasion. I am aware of an abstract concept of time to measure intervals. The best conclusion I can arive at is that my awareness seems to be moving at constant speed and in a single dimension of time. I do not know whether this dimension is open or closed. Because I am not sure of the extend and reliability of my memory, it is possible that I am looping through time, and that I have experienced "now" an indefinite number of times before, without having any memory of it.

Change and external world

Not only am I aware of constant changes, I am also having the impression that the states are new. From this I conclude that although I do have a memory, it is limited. I conclude with certainty that my awareness is not all-knowing at the moment. (I do not exclude the possibility that it could become all-knowing in the future, and not even that I was in the past. Note that one could reason that it is impossible to know with certainty if one is all-knowing.) From this I conclude that from the point of view of my awareness there is an external world. Of course, it is possible that that which I experience as "external world" simply is produced by something from within myself, of which I am not aware.

It seems that this "problem of awareness" is independent of whether an external world really exists or not, and, in case it does exist, the nature and origin of this external world.


I think, the above is all I can state with certainty, meaning that all else are believes, that although they often seem rather sure, nevertheless could be completly false. It seems that there are really no answers to the two big questions.

External world

The external world appears to me as a three dimensional world, in which 'my body' moves around. The center of my awareness seems to be located in the 'head' of the body and generally be aligned with the orientation of my head. My body seems to be part of the three dimensional world and behave like an entity in this world obeying the same kind of rules. I precieve the external world through senses. There seems to be a rather direct sense within my body and some indirect senses with respect to the external world outside my body. It seems I precieve the external world outside my world through some processing of the senses, as it seems I attribute some properties to the external world of which I can reason that they are not present in my primairy sense data. For example, I know that my eyes do not precieve depth, yet I do precieve the external world as having depth. I am aware of optical illusions with which I can trick my senses in 'observing' something that on a different level, I know, is not there. In general the experience of the external world seems consistent to some degree. I am also aware that sometimes I do not sense things although they are there. My field of sight seems to be less accurate than it presents itself to me. This leads me to believe that the experience I have of the external world is complex reconstruction based on sense data.

Science

Although I have no way to verify every scientific fact from the areas of physics, chemistry and biology, they in general seem to be very credible. This sciences tell me that the world behaves as if it is made out of atoms, atoms which themselves consist of smaller elementary 'particles'. Atoms that form monecules or have other types of bonds between them. That our bodies are made out of cells, which consist over a very large range of often very complex and large organic monecules. Cells, which are like compex machines in which constantly a large number of chemical reactions are taking place, in which energy is used to transform organic monecules into other organic monecules. And that some of these cells are able to communicate with other cells through electrical signals. That these cells are called nerve cells and that an organ, usually called 'the brain', inside my head consists of a very large collecion of those nerve cells. I understand that these cells generate enough electrical activity such that these can be measured on the skull of my head. Although some have suggested that quantum coherence is related to consciousness in a fundamental way, I believe that Max Tegmark makes a strong case disproving it.

Evolution

There seems to be solid scientific evidence for biological evolution and that we humans are related to the Hominidae. We share a very large portion of our genes with them. It seems that there is evidence that human gene ArhGAP11B, which seems to a truncated version of ArhGAP11A found with the other Hominidae and mammels, contributed to thicker layer of certain nerve cells in the neocortex and to neocortex folding. (Coming soon...)


Unfinished thoughts...

what follows is very far from the above...

Ethics

Many people use the argument that we are moral beings as an argument for the existence of God. I think that argument is flawed. It seems that ethics and moral law can be defined by economics. The traditional definition of economics centers around goods and services. But what holds for goods, also holds for social priviledges. We live in a complex world where we for the access to scarce resources are dependent on the people around us. When we are young we are strongly dependent on what our parents give us. We quickly discover that our parents are special, and in our minds we build up a model of social relationships and obligations and we discover that proper conduct is needed to keep those relationships in order. Shame is basically the (real or imaginary) fear to be rejected by people around us. All our life we are busy to build up a model of our personal value, and use this in our relationship with the people around us to get those resources that we need for living.

Killing is wrong, except in a war

We have this ethical notion that killing is wrong. If killing would be okay, it would mean that it would be okay for others to killed us, or kill the people around us who we depend on. Yet when we are confronted with an evil power, killing is acceptable. When killing an evil power is acceptable, is greatly determined by economic arguments. The police is allowed to shoot to stop a person from causing excessive damage to others, for example, when this person is killing random people. In case of fight between two countries, solders in the armies are allowed to use voilence to prevent the population of the country to be killed or harmed.

Aestestics


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