Tuesday, May 5, 2015
Blog Posts in Their Entirety: Bryce Marion
- The Search for Knowledge and the True Nature of Reality -
A Quick Warning: This writing is the musing of a blank-slate ape. I harbor no bad feelings for any group of people and am on the same intellectual journey as all of you, though mine may be a bit more harebrained. What I say, I don't hold onto with any aggressive belief (at least not until I've figured things out a tad more). I may speak about topics that offend you or seem like an attack on your personal beliefs, which is certainly not my intention! This writing is a bit of performance art on my part. The art being that it is a picture into my own cognition; this is my own, slightly more researched and put together, stream of consciousness. Excuse my immaturity of thought and semi-didactic tone but this is a big- time soapbox and I can't refuse a good opportunity to vomit thoughts all over smart people!
The pursuit of gaining knowledge is, for most people, a respectable and noble pursuit. Many college students start off with the mentality of wanting to learn as much as they can as humans (I chose this topic because it’s typically in the minds of idealistic college students). Unfortunately, gaining procedural knowledge can be very difficult and exhausting. Other than reading, which takes lots of time, a human concerned with intellectual growth must practice conceptualization of complex problems and topics. The interstices within everything that surrounds us are so numerous that it would be impossible for a person to learn everything about everything, especially when humans are creating new ‘things’ at an ever-increasing rate. Even learning a small percentage of what there is to know can be, and often is, stressful. I believe the overwhelming amount of data shoved in our faces causes us to take a metaphorical ‘time out’. What I mean by this is that we tend to look at the details, get over-stimulated and then attempt to create a simpler understanding of the universe. This little and most likely grotesquely naïve elaboration will center on the ways in which we try to understand our inherited environment and how we try to deceiver the true nature of reality.
From the beginning of history, man has concentrated on the mystical. To me, mysticism is a practice which regards the undeniably complex and attempts to put a relatively simplistic blanket over it. Mystics grasp at what is unknown and attempt to make it know through some form of concentrated thought or meditation. As complex biological structures, humans feel. We feel the good, the bad and the downright mystical. These feelings are a phenomenon which undeniably happen and, to most, would seem of a veritable importance; almost as if there were no barrier between the analytical mind and the fabric of reality itself. This belief that the mind and the universe are connected through some enigmatic structure is the very basis of mysticism, most commonly found in religion.
Religion is an extremely convenient tool for the confused. Let’s face it, the world is a very confusing place. Certain deist religions take what is thoroughly unthinkable and forces it into the simplest model possible. The religion nearest to me, Christianity, assumes the absolute existence of a singular creator who watches over every living being (but gives extra special attention to humans). Growing up as a Christian, I found it quite nice to have a cognizant security blanket who seemingly answered all of my questions and who took care of all of my problems. Because of my own experience, I understand where Christians come from in their search for deeper knowledge and truth. I use the example of Christianity only because it is something I know a lot about and that it is the predominant religion of the world (soon to be usurped by Islam).
There are many who reject orthodox religion, yet fully respect the reality of the mystical. This pseudo-religion seems to not have a common name, yet is clearly based on a loose form dogmatism, as oxymoronic as it sounds! This form of mysticism focuses on energies which are invisible and undetectable. Hinduism expounds upon this idea in its concept of ‘Shakti’. In the Hindu religion, Shakti is a primordial cosmic energy which acts as a driving force for complexification and creativity in the universe embodied by a goddess. This is the key difference between the atheistic religions and the theistic religions. The belief in a creative energy is the same, yet the strict belief that there must be a deity behind it is the difference. Both are yogic practices in which the unity of the mind and body are essential for the liberation of the soul from the material world. Yoga intrigues me and I am still looking into it further. I only do yoga and meditate to achieve a state of mental stability and centeredness however. Personally, the ultimately non-human truth involved is still up in the air. I fear that the ‘study’ of energies or concentrations of energies in the body (chakras) are another form of fantasy.
The next obvious human attempt at gaining knowledge is the pursuit of scientific advancement. The goal of increasing scientific knowledge has seemed to be existent throughout history (some periods being more explosive than others); this journey starts at the creation of the first tools, all the way to advanced space exploration and global computerization. It would seem as though this advancement simply benefits the lives of mankind. This is true for technology. As technology is a byproduct of science, it is secondary to the goal of obtaining pure, unadulterated information. This being said, computerization has allowed for an overall increase in global awareness amongst our global society. This is certainly important in the immediate time-frame of the planet earth, yet the fundamental laws of nature involved with creating this computerization have been known for a quite a long time. Once again, technology is just the application of what is already largely known; creating tools for humans is the engineer’s job! To me, the avant garde of our society are the scientific theorists.
The end goal of the pursuit of knowledge through rigorous scientific study is one with Aristotelian roots. Aristotle’s ideal pathway for attaining gnosis was bound by what humans can truly know. That is, why theorize on what is clearly unattainable when it may very well end in complete delusion? This view seems like the safest route if one is trying not to be incorrect about the true nature of reality. In this mind set, if an idea has no explicit and non-refutable evidence, it must be labeled as unknown. This rigor will make sure that we humans don’t outrun where we really are in our philosophical journey. This is the curse of the ‘armchair philosopher’. This common figure attempts to gain knowledge on a cosmic scale through analytical thought and experience. The fundamental flaw with this way of grasping at gnosis is that there is no fact checking structure involved. The product of this sort of behavior is seen in our society on a grandiose scale; its manifestation being the wide-spread acceptance of religion or any form of mysticism as undeniable truth. This is why I only rely on science and mathematics as structures of relative truth; these interconnected studies are the only ones that have explicit evidence in that without them, our reality could not exist. All other human aspects fall underneath the metaphorical blanket of pure mathematics as elements of chaotic, self-consistent structures which may or may not have meaning (which we assumedly will never truly know from an Aristotelian view).
Scientific theorists attempt to chart the nature of reality. This seems like a nearly impossible task, and it often is! Many theories in physics find their home in mathematical consistency rather than their experimental verification. This is the nature of modern physics; find what works on paper and try to create an experiment to prove it. Often times, an experiment is infeasible, therefor the theory will always remain just that, a theory. The advancements in physics which we can expect in the next few decades will presumably have no possible experiments (due to the astronomical energies needed to replicate the conditions of the big-bang), thus making these theories impossible to disprove. This fact will make scientific and mathematical advancements become as dogmatic as any form of mysticism. This is quite disheartening for us physicists, yet biologists, astronomers and chemists can still have their fun stamp collecting. (All of these studies can be derived from the laws of physics anyway.)
In seeing this somewhat hopeless search for truth in the mathematical studies, many intellectuals have decided it best to study the humanities. In this pursuit, the knowledge seeker studies the aspects of human interaction, origin (inexorably tied to history) and personality. I will boil these studies down to sociology, anthropology and psychology. These would be referred to as ‘soft sciences’ or sciences which don’t rely on perfect numerical data, but rather depend on simple observation and analysis. Because we all need to exist within the confines of humanity, these studies are important to us. In my view, they are only important to us. There is no evidence that our interaction produces any changes in the universe other than the physical changes which our bodies (and destructive cultures) naturally make, therefor the ramification of these studies remain in the air. None the less, the human studies are extremely interesting and the knowledge gained from these increase our awareness of our immediate environment and why people do what they do.
The goal of figuring out the world comes with a long list of tasks and charges. Those including extensive rigorous study, dedication to intelligent and rational thought, and retaining the feeling that ignorance is repulsive. To me, it seems like a life-long devotion to these life elements is necessary for obtaining one’s greatest potential. Naturally, said person’s potential is limited by his or her mental hardware (quickness, memory and simple ability to grasp concepts). This being said, a gifted intellectual can find him or herself virtually unlimited when it comes to how far his or her mind can be stretched; for the humans who don’t possess the traits of genius at a young age, this means a lot of hard work must be done in order to reach that ‘point’ - or rather level of ability.
For many, this dogged pursuit of gnosis contributes to their long-term happiness; or so they say. Perhaps it is simply the arrogance of these intellectuals which spurs them toward this pursuit. Maybe it’s just a cognitive trait of theirs which makes them possess this incessant curiosity. Either way, I’m not so sure that the goal of figuring out the ways of the universe is produced by the want for true happiness. In my own case, there is a fear of the unknown buried deep within my subconscious. I feel as though if I don’t understand something, I have not achieved the ‘purpose’ of the human race – that purpose being to observe and to understand the universe, down to the smallest interstices. The fact that true understanding of reality is so far away makes my stomach tie up into knots. This fact makes me realize my own extreme arrogance. Why must we completely understand everything when the real goal of it is human egotism? Why must this grand ‘purpose’ be to sweep out factual knowledge from under the metaphorical rug? The temptation to pursue the goal of knowing everything, I think, stems from the human realization that we are the only known machines in the universe who have the capacity to come even close to this end.
MY FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE SUBJECT
Even if we theoretically have the ability to figure everything out, should we? Ever since the ‘Pandora’s Box’ of scientific advancement has been opened, mankind has produced more and more ‘stuff’ which Western culture has conditioned us to believe we need. These products, which are ways of making money from science, are contributing to the destruction of the Earth. This fact, we can no longer deny. So what is the grand purpose of knowing every scientific fact when all it does is contribute back into this poisonous society which we have cultivated in the West (the science of Environmentalism is simply not enough to reverse the effects of our culture on the planet while we continue to live as we do). The fact that our knowledge seeking has brought our planet to the brink of death shows the need to halt this progress (for the time being of course).
I still believe that our ‘purpose’, if we must have one, is to completely understand our universe. We are the only ones who can sense the beauty of it all and a more complete image of our cosmic environment, in my mind, allows us to fully appreciate that intricate beauty. Yet, how are we to achieve this shining level of gnosis and balance with the universe if we are not to have a planet to stand on. Are we to become learned tenants of a revivified Earth, or are we to use this planet like a placenta to achieve some sort of detached form of consciousness separate from our animal bodies? These are questions to which no one has the answer. But, one thing is for certain. If our western culture continues to travel in the direction which it has been, we are going to completely use the ‘placenta’ and end up still-born. I truly believe that mankind has to ability to transcend these global issues, but it’s going to take radical cultural change. These changes are not possible unless we develop a truly emotional and feminine connection to the death of our own planet (this connection is violently suppressed by the powerful of western society). First, we must all see these environmental and demographic trends which inevitably end in apocalypse. Next, we must emotionally attach to this demise. To emotionally connect, the use of psychedelic drugs are extremely useful, and when the time of complete destruction is near, those in power may come calling for those privy to this option. At the moment, these substances are very illegal because of their boundary dissolving capabilities and their clear antithesis to male dominator culture.
Before we are able to grasp reality and pick up where we left off in our search for knowledge, we must find balance with the Earth. This balance may be found through the embrace of the mystic. We must also use our humanitarian knowledge to convince vast amounts of people to stop having more than two children. Along these lines, we must also try to foster emotional connections to the death of the Earth in people who otherwise don’t care; this end CAN BE achieved through the use of psychedelic drugs such as LSD, psilocybin and DMT, yet their legal status remains as such that their use and distribution can land a truly good soul in prison for many years. Finally, science must use its knowledge for purposes which save our planet before using the knowledge to perpetuate the parasitic structures which we live in. If this is not the goal of science, then the whole enterprise must be shut down and r-tooled to have the purpose of saving human history. If mankind cannot be saved, this pursuit of knowledge and the quest for finding the true nature of reality will forever be lost. The whole march of evolution to this point may be for nothing if we do not change immediately.