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Consciousness

I guess all Descartes knew for certain was that HE existed. In scientific sense, you can't be privy to anyone else's mind. Their own sense of self is only available to you through your senses (as is everything that isn't your self). So you have to take on faith, as in educated deduction, that other people have minds or souls or whatever.

Until recently (last couple of hundred years), at least in "Western" thought, animals were thought to be merely patterns, algorithms. The vivisection of creatures for medical research (which continues today by the way) was easily explained away by the notion that since they had no souls, they couldn't really feel anything either (Harari: Homo Deus). They were like moving plants that had automatic responses, as might a robot. The idea is alive and well, judging by my many arguments with people who think that shellfish couldn't possibly feel pain without a central nervous system like ours.

Why is there a cut-off point betwe…

Edges

Where does the edge of one thing stop and the next begin? The table that you sit at seems to have a clearly defined edge, at least from an every day perspective. What if you were the size of a fly? A mite? An amoeba? An atom? the edge would no longer be a simple straight line, but a jagged, roiling cloud of haze. It would be like trying to define the edge of a cloud of mist.

Thinking further, where does your body's edge stop? At you fingertips? Just past them? Is your breath still part of 'you'? What about your sight and hearing? Science has informed us that your are an island. There is only a sheen of perception between you and the outside world. You cannot exit your body, in any sense - you aren't looking at that distant building, it is reflecting light into your eye and your brain is translating that into the concept of 'distance'. your eyes aren't lasers that reach out and touch objects, they are merely sensors into which light travels.

If it feels a bi…

Time

Time is one of the trickier concepts in science. Stephen Hawking has wondered, why does time flow in the direction it does? Why do we remember the past but not the future? Is there only one past and unlimited possible futures or is there only one future, the one we happened to take? Of course, there is no actual past, or future, at least form our point of view. There is only ever now. Past and future exist as concepts only.

Timothy Morton in Hyperobjects coins the phrase "temporal undulation". States where time dosn't flow at the constant rate it appears to on Earth. We know, from Einstein, Hawking and others, that time indeed flows at different rates according to how fast an observer travels through space. I have coined a term, at least to explore in concept, "temporal widdershins". If you have ever looked at the water of a river flowing past a rock or log, you can see little swirls and eddies where the water flows backwards a bit as it passes. Does time do th…

The Liminal

There are two main paths of exploration that we can follow. Science and Philosophy. Sensory observation and Thought. Body and Mind. It should be apparent to anyone that neither can really exist isolated from the other.

Aristotle is thought to have believed that things could be worked out purely by thinking; there was no need to actually test anything. Obviously we can dispel this. Much of what he knew came from the input from his senses, as is the case with all of us. Unless everything we experience is some kind of hallucination (which is not implausible), we have to accept that there is some kind of outside world influencing our sensors. This information in turn necessarily informs our deductive prowess.

Scientists like Richard Dawkins hate the idea of anything existing without the influence of outside stimulus; everything we know, including abstract things like how much your dog loves you, comes from external evidence. This, as Science would say, implies that a universe exists alrea…