Sunday, January 6, 2008

Nothing really exists

There's this fun little philosophical problem that might keep party guests entertained for – oh minutes.

Nothing really exists.

There's the past. The past is what used to exist but no longer does. We get to it basically through our memories.

The future is what will exist but does not yet exist. No matter how much we want it to – we will never experience the future.

The present is a tricky little thing. The problem with the present is that everything we perceive (that is everything that we receive through our senses takes time to be processed (even if only in a few milliseconds). So essentially everything we experience as now is essentially in the past which we already know no longer exists.

So is it possible to prove that you exist right now…

Well, something to chew on – especially at those times when start feeling particularly self important.


Ben said...

If the only means of verifying your existence is by the senses (a dubious claim if ever Descartes saw it) then you are right that we can only say that we DID exist (by your definition of the past) and hypothesize that we will continue to exist in your future.

At any rate, I'm fine with just knowing that I did exist a milisecond ago and must assume that I will continue to exist.

Outgoing... said...

Ben, thanks for your comment and for playing along.
It is afun little problem and really highlights well the need to pursue reality and existance from many angles - so what's yours?

jc said...

I think its quite reasonable existence as an irreducible primary. A concept that is necessary for all other thought to take place. It is not provable because you cannot reduce it to more simple concept on which to base it on.

Frank said...

What if I say that time is not something one flows through – that is, it is not a “thing.” Rather it is a relation between events. I can say there one (or more) current events- the ones I am experiencing right now. Future and past events do not exist because of the relation they bear to the current events. It is like freezing a movie on a single frame. As there are no events, there is not time. But there is that one moment that does exist, namely the one captured on the screen. (I still have not figured out a good account of events that is non-circular).

Outgoing... said...

I like that Frank
it's an interesting thought line to chase at least. so maybe if we can re-establish the connection between the present event and any particualr one in the past it could actually exist again? Am I following that right?