[This piece is more of an exercise at writing coherent essays in one sitting]
[I’d give this a 6.5/10. How about you?]
The notion that Absolute Truth is unattainable, unapproachable and perhaps even inexistent is the common theme of our day and age. Regardless of the field or discipline, the plague has arrived. To honestly consider this notion is horrifying and deeply disappointing, for the absence of Truth is only arrived at after a long painstaking journey motivated by a pursuit of Absolutes. How have we responded to this crisis? We have resorted to the physical world at our finger tips to lead us. Through feedback such as pain, pleasure, utility, efficiency, simplicity and so forth, we determine what is right and what is wrong, in other words, we define limited truths through physical feedback. Nature is now the Arbiter and Judge through its ability to imprint on his via senses.
Where do we go from here? To the next logical crisis: the Abyss of causation. If the current crisis stems from the absence of Absolutes, then the next is being cornered by the realization we tend to avoid. “Nature” or the “Physical World” rests upon an few assumptions. For example, there would be no physical world without objects and interactions between them, which takes for granted the presence of discrete entities and their ability to affect one another. We take for granted that object A acts upon object B. With that in mind we study mechanics, chemistry, molecular biology, societies, economic systems and so forth. But such “material causation” (one object acting upon another) is an unfounded truth. It is unfounded because we are now in truthless times and it is naïve to accept the myth of material causation.
I recall an literary interaction between Avicenna (Ibn Rushd) and Algazal (Al-Ghazali). Algazal wrote his Incoherence of Philosophers as a critique of philosophy. Avicenna responded with his Incoherence of the Incoherence to critique Algazal’s critique. One of the issues at stake was causation. Algazal stated that for all we know when fire approaches cotton, God may be the actual cause behind the cotton catching fire, not the approaching flame. Avicenna dismissed this as mere sophistry (pronounced: bull-crap). Avicenna felt that it was only honest and consistent to accept material causation and that dismissing it was some sort of malady. The spirit of Avicenna’s time and place may have been on the side taking material causation for granted, but we cannot claim the same today. Algazal’s alternative model becomes just as plausible.
Realizing the myth of material causation is the upcoming crisis that follows from the erosion of Truth. What does this leave us with? It leaves us with Nature disrobed, and the physical world dethroned. We can no longer justify any action we make by appealing to the dictates of Nature, because there is no “Nature”. The physical world no longer has any authority. “Have you not heard? Nature is dead! Nature is dead! tweeted Gazalustra as he ran through Wall Street updating his status, “Nature is Dead!”
If we can no longer justify actions by appealing to the causes around us, what do actions become? They become a manifestation of whoever thinks about them.
[essay interrupted by family arriving. time to celebrate a birthday. brb]
Let us return to the metaphor of the glove, as described in “Ground Zero Mosque”
Occasionally, we realize that behind the curtain of this world is the Beyond. What is life but a fiction in the Book of the Beyond? What are we but fingers of a leather glove, brought to life by the Hand of God? Ah … Beyond, yet so near.
The hand brings the leather fingers to life so that they wiggle around and create new fingers. Each finger has its own misty self hovering over it (see here for explanation of this metaphor). The world each finger perceives is a projection of itself. A finger cannot appeal to any external cause for anything it does. What it desires will happen because it desired it.
This is a paradigm that could find room to flourish after the death of Nature. Whatever you intend will happen. Some intentions happen instantaneously, others take time; a minute, an hour, a year or a lifetime. Your intentions happen because you draw on the canvas of your world what your world looks like. Some strokes are simple, others are complex and take time to complete. In any case, you are the Painter.
Tangent: Let us develop this paradigm by adding an extra twist. You can take it or leave it (skip this and the next paragraph). If you take it then read the following paragraph which will develop it further. The hand brings the fingers to life and the fingers draw. The hand then looks through the paintings, chooses some rejects others. Paintings are chosen along with the fingers that drew them. Other canvases are torched with the fingers by which they were produced. This is a window through which afterlife accountability can be added to this paradigm.
What does it mean for a leather finger to be chosen and another torched? A finger that is such that it intends favorable strokes is elected to work on the canvas of “Acceptance” where it only intends, and finds, acceptable strokes. A finger that is such that it produces strokes that are no favored by the hand is elected to work on the canvas of “Rejection”. Some fingers are not useful for ether canvas and are retired, left idle, or destroyed. You can substitute Acceptance for Good and Rejection for Bad.
The last two paragraphs were a diversion to articulate Heaven and Hell according go the glove metaphor. But let us return to the consequences of a paradigm where our intentions and desires are bound to happen, one way or another, and whatever we do, we do because we wanted to. Whatever happens, happens because we drew it on the canvas. This can only be a transitory paradigm. Why should “we” be the cause of anything? This unfolds into a paradigm where “things happen” including our perception of events. Whatever is the reason behind the happenings also makes us aware of them. “Us” here refers to independent units of perception (i.e. different fingers on the glove). This is a nauseating state of affairs because it provides no grounding for identity. With the erosion of “identity” goes a core assumption that lies behind Nature; the presence of discrete objects. If we dismiss material causation and no longer have a way to think of discrete objects (including ourselves), what is left but slipping into an acceptance of a monistic view, where there is only One. But is that the end? No, isn’t One a discrete entity, however boundless that One may be? Can we even continue to use speech to explore the possibilities? Would that be the end of Homo libros?
I have no truths to offer. I can only caution that the appeal to Nature is naïve. The mystery is too deep, the Abyss … ugh … so, so wide! But, eh. One day at a time.