Monday, April 11

Much to do about nothing

Ever since I can remember, occasionally I have this weird imaginatitive concept of nothingness – the equivalent of nothing at all. This was not the negation of the idea of being as such but that which is apart from it.

Those thoughts remind me of our ancestral past journey when we first began to to think about ourselves separate to self. Modern man evolved this potential possibly up to 100,000 years ago although scholars hotly debate varying time lines. It is highly plausible during this crossover period as our cognitive abilities expanded physically (with the expansion of the frontal brain lobes) many of our beliefs began to took take shape. In Elkhonon Goldberg's ‘ The Executive Brain’ he states "A rich sensory memory of a deceased tribesperson would be interpreted as the tribesman's "ghost" or as evidence of the tribesman "life" after death". According to the scenario, some of the more literal religions and magical beliefs, which persisted for millennia are vestiges of early human’s inability to distinguish between one’s own memories of other people (internal representations, parts of "self") and those actual people themselves ("nonselves".Others). According to Jaynes, this self-oneself confusion was not confined to prehistoric times. It extended well into the early history populated by individuals we assume to be neurobiological "modern'.

Looking backwards in time it is difficult to imagine those first awakenings in our journey of discovery since they are hidden in oral history, dance, chants and the evocative dreamland scenes on rock walls painted up to 60,000 years ago. Even today screenings include a warning about interviews with people who have since deceased in deference to indigenous group’s beliefs. An insatiable curiosity combined with unquenchable thirst for knowledge leads to our complex ever changing belief systems which adapt subtly along with hotly contested changes as new discoveries contradict many of the rigidly held previous religious ‘beliefs’. Many today prefer the idea of concepts rather than to be wedded to a ‘belief system’.

Buddhism has been rediscovered in the west and gains popularity as an alternative to secular materialism in philosophy or fundamentalism in religion. The idea of nothingness as sacred might seem unattractive to western rationalism unaccustomed to discussing such subjects as emptiness, karma, release from suffering through Nirvana – by ceasing to will, illusions of the mind and the idea of death simply taking on a different form of rebirth. Buddhist popularity may also be due to the fact it seems to be less authoritarian and, while its rationality may be debated it does suggest a rational pathway.

However, when one examines the mystical bent of all religions and their roots encapsulated into ritual, art and so called canonized scripture it remains a matter of choice dependent in turn on a leap in faith.

In the end people adopt a religion or a belief or a particular religious or even secular philosophy because there is nothing else you can do to make sense of life - philosophically for that person.

From the mystical perspective nothingness or something -whichever is of appeal, always entails something in reality which is ineffable.

The only thing we can say for sure is it is futile and idiotic to attack anyone purely on the basis of what a person or group of people think or happens to believe (as distinct from what someone does) since it is all about something or nothing which in reality is ineffable. Much to do about nothing- but we see continued oppression and persecution of many ( including christian) based upon a fear of what such people might do.


susan said...

The concept of nothingness as the ultimate ground of being or noumenon where there is no form but everything is immanent is a marvel to me. The truly interesting thing about Buddhism is that it's a belief system we can prove for ourselves through meditation. Of course, as you say, there are many philosophies of religion and ephemeral truths - some would say there are as many paths as people. The important thing to remember is that no one should be treated cruelly for their beliefs.

Mercutio said...

I have long held the belief that different religions were dispensed by God for the purpose of providing a pathway to Him, for those who would seek Him.
This was done at various times, and to various peoples; the different religions reflecting the character and idiosyncrasies of the place and time.
Nevertheless, these remain, as people, as a whole, have become more diversified, and the vast expansion of knowledge has shot off into several differing paths. These that remain do so to provide those of differing temperaments a path to God.
And so, the true religion would be the one most suited to one's temperament.
Nothing about choice or values, but something more intimate-- those things that choice and values are based on.
Just my thoughts.

As far as Nothing goes, it could only be experienced by Something.
Much like Schrodinger's cat. The presence of the observer cannot be overlooked.
Just basic instrumentation theory.
One of the three basic errors of all instrumentation, actually.

gfid said...

since taking a career path that made me the manager of a used building supplies store, i find my philosophical meanderings tend to pare down to 'nuts and bolts'. perhaps i've become simplistic. mostly because i'm just too exhausted for any kind of deep thought..... when asked by a christian who was more than mildly offended that i didn't share his faith, "well, what DO you believe in?" i replied, "kindness." that says it all for me... kindness to the planet, kindness to the plants and animals i share the planet with, (including homo sapiens, though they sometimes don't seem to deserve it) kindness to myself.

lindsaylobe said...

Hi Susan, Mercutio and Granny Fiddler. Thanks for your insightful comment.
Susan - wise words …….. There are many philosophies of religion and ephemeral truths - some would say there are as many paths as people. The important thing to remember is that no one should be treated cruelly for their beliefs.
Along similar lines we seek what it is that already exists but it will always entail a certain mystery or mystical beginnings – trapped as we are in this time and space in this one universe. We can’t go outside and look in from a vantage point where nothing might be imagined as something from an existential state in another dimension or multiverse. The truth is we only experience reality to the extent that it is necessary for our present state- that being a tiny splinter of reality. If you believe that knowledge is reality than there is no mystery to Schrodinger's cat – we simply don’t have the knowledge of that state.
Gf - A wise philospher on his deathbed – if I could have one lasting wish it would be to be kind to one another – to show reverence and kindness to all to whom we cohabitate our planet earth.
Best wishes