How do you prove that we exist? Maybe we don’t exist. . .

Clare asked me a question which was a rebuttal to my own question of “How do you prove that we exist?”. Her question was, “What does it mean to not exist, and why would it matter?”.

I will tackle the first question, and then move on to the second after I have laid the groundwork for it.

What would it mean to not exist?

Well, to put it simply, if we did not really exist then nothing would have a point whatsoever. Keep in mind that I do not necessarily believe that we don’t exist, I simple accept the fact that existence cannot be proven. There are a number of factors that contribute to this inability.

For instance, one can progressively ask “why?”. An example: “What is the purpose of life?” an answer a religion I know of says, “To test us.” To which one can reply, “Why do we need to be tested?” The answer to this can always be followed up with a “What is the point of that? Why is that important?”. You can continue to answer any reason with this question, and you will never get to the end of it, meaning that one cannot finitely define to purpose of life, meaning that there is no finite definition.

No finite reason for existence, no reason to help provide evidence for existence.

Likewise, there is nothing to substantiate that we are not all hallucinations, or dreams of someone else. Why can I say that when people have clearly proven that they are not hallucinations or dreams? . . . that’s exactly the point, if we are hallucinations or dreams than can that proof not also be the factor of hallucination or dreaming?

Now, I am not saying I believe that we are either a hallucination, or a dream, but what I am saying is that there is no way to provide evidence to the contrary.

At the same time, we cannot provide evidence that we do not really exist either. We cannot prove either way, and that is the nature of Nihilism, whether it be applied to morality, or existence. We believe that there is no way to know anything inconclusively, and so we live as if nothing is concrete.

Why would it matter if nothing existed?

It wouldn’t matter, and that is precisely why it would. Nothing would have a point. No action that we performed would be of any actual significance if we were all merely figments of imagination or hallucinations. Because of this it allows some of us freedom.

I am freed by my belief that nothing is conclusive. I am freed because I know I can change myself, and that change is the power of the universe. It is the vehicle by which all things occur, so if we embrace ability to change, then we can allow ourselves more freedom regardless of our situations.

For instance: I am male. I have always been male. If I had been born in a female body I would have still considered myself male. I understand that this sort of situation does occur for people. There are certain people among my friends and acquaintances who have this sort of dilemma. I know some who took this very hard and find themselves incredibly trapped in that world, one in particular who sees his male form and hates it, and wishes to the ends of the Earth that he could be a woman. He does not try and do anything to affect his mindset, he simply complains and let’s his fear and anxiety control him/her. Another person I know in this same situation has chosen to embrace what they consider to be their natural gender. They refuse to let their physical form stop them from behaving the way they wish to, and they act all woman despite the placement of their sexual organs being on the outside. The first person is stuck in a mindset where everything is concrete, that the universe is always “one reality”. The second person has freed themselves from that mindset, and accepts that the universe is change, and that there is nothing concrete to tell them they can’t be who they want to be. They have embraced the transient nature of the universe.

So why would it matter? It wouldn’t matter, but accepting the possibility can certainly change one’s mind about a few things.

I don’t know if that adequately answered your question Clare, but I don’t know if I can do any better.

-Cynus

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10 thoughts on “How do you prove that we exist? Maybe we don’t exist. . .

  1. Gypsy Lizardkilt says:

    You’ve crossed paths with my reading today.

    Skipping about 10 pages of proving this point….

    Light behaves like waves or like particles depending on which experiment we perform.

    The “we” that does the experimenting is the common link that connects light as particles and light as waves. The wave-like behavior that we observe in the double-slit experiment is not a property of light; it is a property of our interaction with light. Similarly, the particle-like characteristics that we observe in the photoelectric effect are not a property of light. They, too, are a property of our interaction with light. Wave-like behavior and particle-like behavior are properties of interactions….

    …it appears that light has no properties independent of us! To say that something has no properties is the same as saying that it does not exist. The next step in this logic is inescapable. Without us, light does not exist….

    Without us, or by implication, anything else to interact with, light does not exist. This remarkable conclusion is only half the story. The other half is that, in a similar manner, without light, or, by implication, anything else to interact with, we do not exist!….

    …philosophically, complementarity leads to the conclusion that the world consists not of things, but of interactions.

    If you believe in an infinite universe (or a divine being, or the eternal Tao), there is always something to interact with, so the enormous webwork of interactions is maintained.

    For me, this is an intriguing idea, but that’s all it is: an idea. Whether I’m an elaborate collection of interactions or a flesh-and-blood individually-existing being, I’m still going to make lunch tomorrow, write poems, be in love, plan for my future. All of which, of course, are interactions. Does anything we do matter? You could say what we do supports the continuing existence of the universe.

    Taoism and quantum physics, as far as I can tell, differ only in the language they use to describe reality.

    • klovax says:

      Indeed my dear Gypsy, Indeed. I feel a bit lighter in heart on my quest due to your insight here. I had never heard that perspective either, but it is quite in line with what I believe, now that you have said it.

      Thank you. I mean that sincerely, because that line of “You could say what we do supports the continuing existence of the universe” is so fantastic and wonderful that I may be able to start pondering other things for awhile.

      I am as grateful that you spent the time to respond to this as I am to Clare for asking me to post this in the first place.

      • Gypsy Lizardkilt says:

        I was about to come back and thank you, actually. I think my brain cracked open this morning, and this post got it started. I’d be singing right now if that weren’t an affront to anything that can hear. 🙂

  2. klovax says:

    You’re awesome, and this situation is awesome, and the universe is awesome. This is the second big enlightenment moment I have had in the last few weeks,

    • Gypsy Lizardkilt says:

      I’ve calmed down a little (mostly thanks to The Scientist grabbing my face, going nose-to-nose with me and saying “SLOW. DOWN.” several times). It’s still there, though. I feel it just below the surface. I’m not who I was at this time yesterday, and it’s amazing.

      • klovax says:

        That’s good to hear. I am always happy when people are able to gain something out of good, solid, philosophical discussion. It is a shame when people are closed off to enlightenment.

  3. Richard Oerton: “We cannot prove that our minds make sense rather than nonsense, because our only way of doing this would involve us using and relying on our minds, assuming what we set out to prove. But this ultimate uncertainty has to be ignored.”

    I don’t think the transsexual argument holds. Some believe that sex is assigned by God, and no-one with testicles should presume to have them cut off, that is defying God. I think I have a right to correct deformities in my body, and I define what the deformity is. Whether I am the figment of another’s imagination or not.

    • Gypsy Lizardkilt says:

      That quote reminds me of a mental exercise from a philosophy textbook I used in college. I don’t have the book any more, but I never forgot the exercise:

      A man is having brain surgery. He is numbed, but awake. Mirrors have been set up so he can see the procedure, and the surgeon is talking to him as she works, describing both what she is doing, and the different parts of the brain and how they function. The man sees, listens, and processes the information: The brain is understanding itself. The brain is thinking about the brain.

      I spent days thinking about that, peeling off layers as from an onion.

    • klovax says:

      I agree with you Clare. It is certainly your body, your life, and your choice. I think it is all about perspective, and I think some people are trapped by lacking perspective. Some people let that fear of God stop them. Others are able to be more flexible, because they have the perspective to take the reins of change into their own hands. I strive to be of the latter, and the latter agrees with you entirely.

      I do love the quote. Unfortunately, I cannot ignore that uncertainty. it appears to be against my nature, or my programming if you prefer.

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