Tuesday, 9 May 2017

A world without 'I'

      Following my 'Ask a Philosopher' post yesterday in response to the question, Why is there something rather than nothing?...
      A few years ago, we had this question from James:

      Okay, I'll admit the need for the contemplation of the various ideas as detailed by this site... and human consciousness in general. But come now, Kollidge Kids. The "basic facts" of existence are:
      1. There was "nothing".
      2. "Bang".
      3. There was everything.
      Ain't there something wrong here? We all understand that "everything" is created... from other "things". Everything. No exceptions. Except... Everything.
      Seems to me, the entire human population should huddle together one week out of the year and contemplate the utter nonsense of the fact of "our" existence. Why we don't walk around muttering "We came from nothing. We came from nothing. We came from nothing," is a mystery in itself...

     I replied to James:

      What cracks me up is that you don't notice an equally big problem staring you in the face every time you look at the bathroom mirror in the morning.
      Let's play a game of suppose. Suppose there were an explanation of why there is something rather than nothing... Now, you are looking in that bathroom mirror, and you think, 'Hang on a second, why is there this face in the mirror? Why am I me? Why is there such an individual as I?'...
      I think that this is a question that deserves to be pondered at least once a day, not one week every year. Not for very long, though. I suggest a couple of minutes, at the maximum...

      Originally posted on  http://www.philosophypathways.com/questions/answers7.html#25 the question was selected for the 'Big Bang Theory page' on our '10 Big Questions' web site http://123infinity.com/big_bang_theory.html.
      'Why is there an individual such as I?' is the question I called my 'idiotic conundrum' (in my book Philosophizer). There does seem something absurd about it. One day I will die, and the world will be a world without 'I'. Before I was born, the world was a world without 'I'. Every night during deep sleep when my brain and nervous system are occupied with managing GK's autonomous functions, the world is a world without 'I'.
      And yet, when I think about the possibility that I might never have been, it seems incredible that there is 'I' at all. No explanation of how the universe came into being, or why there is 'something rather than nothing' can explain why there is a world with 'I' rather than a world without 'I'.
      In my answer to James, I recognized the weirdness of raising this question. It's worth thinking about for 'a couple of minutes at the maximum', I suggested, somewhat facetiously.
      I could have said: The problem is never going to be solved. No-one is never going to crack it. So why not just leave it alone?
      I don't see discussions of this anywhere. It's not a topic on the academic philosopher's agenda. But I'm not worried about what academic philosophers think. I wouldn't have written my book, if I had cared more than a hoot.
      The question, as I stated in my first YouTube video, Why am I here? isn't so much asking why, as raising the prior question how it can be a fact at all, a feature of the world, that there is 'I', rather than 'no-I'.
      The problem is, there is no way to state the question — either the question of explanation or the question of fact — in terms that would be comprehensible to any other person. Another person can only ask the question about him or herself, there is no parallel question about me, because that just becomes a question about the world being the way it is, having GK in it, rather than being a world without GK.
      — This is all old ground which was covered in my 1994 book Naive Metaphysics, as well as Philosophizer. I'm just putting down a marker here, to show that the question is not going to go away any time soon...

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