The Rebel Road…

I know you’ve come to kill me. Shoot, coward, you’re only going to kill a man. – Ernesto Che Guevara

How real am I? – II

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Illusion, as described by the Oxford Dictionary, is a “sensuous perception of an external object involving a false belief”. According to Margaret McDonald, the most important thing to consider here is that where it is an illusion to mistake an orange tennis ball for the fruit; to see an orange where there is none would be a hallucination. A hallucination is, therefore, a form of psychosis, where the mind of the person creates a pseudo-reality where there may or may not exist one.

The mode of reception of sensation, thus, plays a very important part in the overall perception of a concept. If the sensation is wrong, the perception will naturally be wrong. This is precisely what happens in the case of an illusion. However, in the case of hallucination, it is not the sensation that is at fault; it is the meaning rather. Usually, the process is done in steps with sensation coming first and meaning following but in the case that meaning precedes sensation a person can very possibly sense what his mind is making meaning of, without the actual presence of the sensation at all. Thus, a person can see ghosts, ghouls and goblins without the said phenomenon actually being present.

Having now understood the concept of reality and illusion, one can see that there is a factor common both to reality and to illusion. That factor is the presence of stimulus. As stated above, in a reality a stimulus is correctly received and the right meaning is attached to it, whereas in an illusion, the stimulus itself is incorrectly received, hence it is mistaken for something it is not, but that does not change the fact that a stimulus is nonetheless present in both situations as compared to a hallucination.

Once it is established that there is an independent reality, one can get onto the business of establishing man as a part of it. Man is the only agent in the known universe that is fully intelligent, conscious and capable of reason. And all these qualities have given him one thing: free will.

Modern scientists find that free will has to be explained in order to find out, firstly and obviously, what it is, and, more importantly, how it distinguishes us from other matter and material compositions in the universe. It is only after we do this, can we find out where this agency of free will will help us out in the future. That is to say, if there is a higher plane of existence, and no other entity has experienced it, then by Occum’s Razor, our only chance of ever attaining that plane of existence must lie in these very characteristics.

In an attempt to do so, it is seen that there are many different occurrences and happenings — events in the universe that follow no discernable pattern. These events are, for the lack of a better word, completely random. A random occurrence is that which defies explanation or pattern. This is where a distinction is made between man (a special conglomeration of matter) and ordinary matter. An example of ordinary matter following an unexplained, random pattern is seen on the sub-atomic level. When energy is giving to an atom, a shift of electrons occurs. That is, they jump orbits, but no amount of scrutiny or scientific study has been able to produce a theory that would help us predict which electron would shift orbit or when this would occur, and hence, the only explanation to be presented for that is that there is no pattern, that it is a completely random occurrence. Similarly, in human beings, no amount of theory can predict what a person’s next move or action would be, hence, the only theory presented to explain it is that of lack of any other pattern. In other words, it is that of free will.

It is through this free will that we exercise what we want. That we mould that which is external, i.e., the universe, to conform to how we want it to be internally, i.e., in our mind. For example, if I feel that the walls of my room would look better in red as compared to if they were white then I would paint them red. It is my internal volition, my free will that lets me exercise my “will” over my environment. To change it as I see fit as the action of cognitive and free individual.

Now, having established that I, as an individual, can change the unrelenting and independent reality to conform to my needs and desires, just as other stimuli around me surround me and act on me in a dialectical fashion, it is only through my own existence that I could change or affect the rest of the universe. Therefore, I must also be a legitimate stimulus that acts on the perceptions of others. This is held true since I do affect other people and their sense organs. And I do it in such a fashion that a large number of people, assuming they are sane, perceive me in a similar, if not the same fashion. It is this way that I submit my contention that I am not an illusion, but rather am a very real, very present, sometimes relative, often objective reality. If we do not use these very criteria for the establishment of the reality of self, then the opposing option presents a very bleak picture as the famous last words of Chuang Tzu’s poem show:

“Am I a Man”, he thought, “who dreamed that I was a butterfly?

Or am I butterfly, dreaming that I am a man?


Written by redtribution

February 3, 2008 at 9:55 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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