What comes to mind when you hear the word real? If you’re think about what you can touch, taste, see, smell, or hear then you’re thinking of the material world around you, but let me ask you this; where did the thought emerge from?
Once we consider the fact that the root word for real is the latin word realis, which means “relating to things,” it isn’t all that difficult to surmise how we all follow that same train of thought. Obviously, the things outside of us are real because they’re tangible. Material realism is the doctrine of the day telling us all that universals exist solely outside of the mind that we are experiencing everything with. So that consciousness, that sense of awareness and all the things you think and feel is merely an epiphenomenon- or byproduct- of matter. That’s a really polite way of saying that your sense of self is nothing more than a happy accident.
Insulting? Well, that’s the dominant paradigm that’s been driving progress for several hundred years now.
Science originally separated from the Church believing it was taking a necessary step away from the rigid dogmas of the day towards what is though to be the truth of all existence. Now, this separation proved to be, not only necessary, but a blessing as it gave birth to one of the greatest investigative tools of all time, the scientific method.
From Descartes to Darwin, science has trodden relentlessly down the path of understanding the physical world using this line of thinking. Scientists have unmassed hidden treasures that have greatly enhanced all of our lives along the way.
While I greatly adore all of our collected knowledge of the sensory world one question continues to call to me: Where does this sense of self play in?
If we’re to take the material worldview of reality at face value then our consciousness is merely a byproduct of the primordial soup cooking and hardly worth a second thought.
How unmagical and boring of an answer is that? If there’s no reason for feelings then nothing really matters and we may as well be nihilists progressing towards technological perfection like the Star Trek villains known as Borg. Luckily we are not mere machines but living, breathing organisms capable of a wonderful depth of experience.
Maybe it’s egotistical of me to think that we are meant to experience the material world with our cognitive abilities in full swing to laugh and cry as we dance through the great mystery of it all as we find meaning. If it is a meaning defined in a mundane existence then I thank the Divine I was given the ability to choose belief as I see fit. As were we all.
Look at the gifts of our individuality. Beyond the beautiful artwork created is the drive to share those brilliantly crafted masterpieces. Even scientific minds want their work published for notoriety. Did these desires not spring forth from some innate sense of self? Does all hope of recognition just spawn from the epiphenomenon that is mind? Didn’t Descartes say “I think, therefore I am?” Couldn’t one take that statement to imply that matter spawns from mind?
What an ironic twist to end the post with. 🤣