In which is demonstrated its impossibility Picture an ancient tarn enclosed on all sides by mountains and trees, hold in you mind the keen shimmer of the water, the murmuring of the oaks and the injustice of the northern winds. Now strip all of this away, the mountains and lake vanish along with the trees, then the very face of the Earth is swept from reality. The stars all vanish along with the other celestial bodies in the sky so that all we are left with is a blank void, a nothingness of sorts. Except what we are left with is something very real, the passing of time and the reality of space is still undeniable is it not? There is also the potential for the reintroduction of corporeal entities, not to mention the fact that the scene of this blankness is still comprehensible to our minds. There are those amongst us who would reduce this already reduced form of reality even further to the point at which the dimensions of space and time disappear and we are left with what is referred to as nothingness. But this appears to be a completely flawed notion, not only does the reduced reality of blank space give rise to the idea of nothingness in a mind, the idea of nothingness is not even that. The comprehensive faculties of the mind can make no sense of it whatsoever and it can only be described with respect to what is not there. If we ask: what is nothingness? an adequate response might appear to be, it is the absence of all things, or the absence of reality. This brings us no closer to understanding what nothingness is and, since we cannot comprehend it or give a satisfactory account of it, we might think those who believe in the possibility of it to hold an unsubstantiated belief. And yet the problem is even worse than this. Some would go as far as to claim that, not only is nothingness possible, it is also ‘easier’ and more sensible than reality. Hence the arrival of the question: Why is there something rather than simply nothing? Simply nothing? Why there is nothing simple about it! In fact this very notion of what is simpler or easier being the case implies the existence of a mind (of God) for whom it is easier for, and this may not be true to the way in which Nature works. Already the befuddlement that we as human beings come under the influence of when thinking of concepts such as nothingness seems to remove all rights for us to talk of it as something that is simplistic and easier than reality, even if mind did play such a crucial role in Nature. But we can go further than this. Although the possibility of nothingness seems unlikely, due to its incoherency and the precariousness of how it is derived, this in no way refutes its possibility; simply because we cannot understand it does not mean that it is impossible. Therefore we must determine a way of knowing whether or not the possibility of nothingness is ruled out entirely. What do we know then? Well we know that either nothingness is the case or reality is the case and that both of these cannot be so. We also know that reality, in some form or another, is the case, due to our various sense perceptions of things which imply a beholder and a perception. We can therefore be sure that nothingness is not the case. Yet this does not mean that it could not have been the case. So we must go deeper. All things must arise due to necessity, be that by a direct cause, such as one billiard ball knocking into another; a causal framework, that is, a universally governing law of Nature that causes things to exhibit certain properties; or causation by pre-programming, such as in the case of fundamental particles (which I do not believe could ever exhibit truly random properties since I have yet to see a coherent system that explains how it could occur). We may therefore deduce that all that happens is necessary. If, therefore, reality is so, then it follows that reality is necessary. We know that reality is so and that therefore it is necessary. Now if reality is necessary and either reality or nothingness is true, then it must be so that nothingness is impossible by necessity. This arises due to the fact that there is only one correct solution to the problem and that, just like in mathematics, that correct solution makes all other solutions impossible by definition. 2 + 2 could never be anything other than 4 by its very nature, this is also the case here since only one solution is coherent (reality) and the incorrect solution (nothingness) arises due to our misinterpretation of the correct solution (the error by which we assume it is possible to strip reality away completely and be left with something that, although incoherent, is possible). Therefore the idea of nothingness is made impossible by reality. Reality’s necessity makes the impossibility of nothingness an impossibility by necessity. Why this is the case however is far more difficult to explain, perhaps it has no explanation. I believe that this brings the realm of Philosophy entirely into reality itself, and this may seem to be a truism and yet since the development of modern physics we seem to have begun to view our universe with less significance than we did before due to the possibility of the nothingness ‘before’ it. If the idea of nothingness is but an impossible misunderstanding then our reality’s philosophical significance is restored. This will be helpful in the justification of other theories.
Our pulsing star sets its gaze upon the winding pathways; it looks down at me through the varieties of rustling leaves and branches, scattering what has been a grey mist of a night and stirring it into a watery daybreak. Coursing through the woods on a mixture of adrenaline and muesli I quicken my pace up the incline. I’d started out making pretty good time but had grown too complacent nearing the 2k marker and not pushed as hard as I ought to have done. Now I’m lagging behind the 21-22 minuters who have probably already made it past the wooden cabin and hit the 4k point.
Accepting my 10th place fate with a good humoured resentment of those ahead of me, I take the time to look about at the forests surrounding my ambience. Shades of ochre moss crawl over the oaks felled by gales just off the beaten track; a dim fog still hangs in the air beneath the trees and in the depths of the woods I believe that I hear the hoot of an owl sounding through the thick brambles and beeches. Often when running through such picturesque landscapes I am struck by such sensations, some intuitive and completely undefinable understanding that I am a part of something greater than myself, something that transcends our modern day, detached society.
All too frequently however I mistake this feeling for being literally caught up in a timeless encounter with Nature in a similar way to how our primitive ancestors once were. But as I flick from the emerald colours of the woodland to the shrill ringing of my luminous timer, I realise that this is simply not the case. My thoughts seem rarely to drift from the anthropocentric illusion that most of us seem to cling to, I am not simply enjoying my run but am concerned by time limits and training schedules, nor is my desire to run so early on a Saturday born out of anything other than the want improve my time. When I really stop and think about it, there are parameters to my experience of running that prevent me from seeing it in its true light. I am locked into similar experiences of a thing by the constrains society places on me.
Consider yourself, right now whilst reading this article, getting up and running off into the fields or beaches. Imagine that you run for miles and miles until you have no idea where you are, you don’t even know why you are doing it. Some time ago you deliberately dropped your phone so as to have no means of communication. You are completely alone and at one with your surroundings. This I think comes close to what our ancestors might have experienced in the ancient jungles and wildernesses. But will you actually do it right now as you’re reading this article? For most I imagine that the answer is no. But why, what’s stopping us? Social conditioning? Moral conduct? Laziness?
In fairness it’s likely a mixture of all these things preventing us from acting in such spontaneous and impulsive ways. And we have progress to blame for that. As our civilisation has become larger and more technologically advanced, more social ties are formed in our short lifespans, our morality has had to evolve via Kantian ethics and utilitarianism to suit the demands of a complex culture and our intake of glucose and saturated fats has increased making us less animated and more inclined to sit on the sofa watching trash TV all day. The creativity and happiness of us as individuals has been restricted to lie within certain parameters due to socially imposed factors that influence our livelihoods. The metallic cords of language, memory and society prevents us from seeing the world in the way our ancestors once did, it restricts our thought and our vision. If we ever wish to combat the epidemic sweeping this civilisation there is but one antidote: we must stop progressing. And that is all I will say on the matter. We can either continue to venture into the unknown or we can revert back to how our civilisation used to be. There is no middle ground. It’s time to choose. Our creativity or our ambition.
There are blank faces under the leafy moon tonight,
Charred spoons lay scattered on the sandbanks
Whilst pumpkins, pale as sick vultures, tumble
Down to the river,
Making blubbering splashes as they hit the frothy currents.
What is this starlit place?
Wait! A figure glides along the waters.
It has wide marbles for eyes
That trickle lost light from their deepest vaults.
A moon spirit lost in the stygian night.
Etched in the Neolithic dawn,
The hexed belt of Orion;
‘Twas then but a symphony of Azure
To the tribal enchantress,
In ecstasy amongst her heterodox forces.
From the splintered lute
To the strains of Pachelbel,
That Dust, taught by the ark,
Doth climb the steep crags
From the abandoned pits
Out into the surreal daylight;
They blink in Ambiguity’s glare.
Is it but a mirage, their newly found glow?
Were they lured by some fall’n angel
To hasher nights?
To eons where the lofty spires
Do rise up o’er the billows
To howling zeniths.
Our crowns wrapped in frantic heights,
The visionaries conjure a new philosophy:
Those celestial Craftsmen
Become the ticking engines of One greater.
Chords of Scorpius woven into orbit
By Aristotle’s euphoric cries
Now I stare out through a window,
A plane sketches the open clouds,
In the calm, I believe it sounds:
A stir in the ether;
The burning of the Alexandrian vaults
In Rome, as Zeus takes up his bolt.
The birds and stars are going about
Their steady evening muse,
Free from culture – who could doubt?
And so far more in tune.
I gazed ‘pon the shores and ‘pon the brooks
And ‘pon the tide drawn rills,
O ‘pon the scattered shells I looked
To capture with the quill.
How I wish I could descend
Into those curling blues, the glens
Of corralled rock and salty lanes
Down to where the sea gods reign.
Alas! My lines of inky verse
Would surely take their flight
And drain away to bot’mless depths
That never see the light.
Our thoughts are fragile things.
O depart foul client of mine gaze!
For ye are but the shadow of a Beech;
Your hidden stalk of Ivy stands
Amongst the golden fields of Wheat.
And when the Reapers make their rounds
Your cackling elder face doth greet
Those slicing, flaying sounds.
Tree! A day once came when, scythe in hand,
I wandered through our summer lands.
But the fields were now all scorching heaths
And the hallowed skies a thorny wreath,
That could have been thine crown.
I watched, as the warbling birds
Fluttered in light bars o’er the dry hills
To shelter in thine verdant head:
A mass of emerald scrolls.
In light of my last post (‘On the Nature of Morality’) I thought it fitting to present an alternative argument for the origin of our morality, this one with a very different approach to goodness than the first.
We need to establish what goodness is in order to create any reasonable system of morality, if we cannot do this then the system is not based on reason as such. We can begin with the observation that some acts are seen as intuitively wrong (e.g. murder, theft, lying), not always for the sake of anything else, simply because we see these things as wrong.
But what is wrong? And for that matter what is good? A satisfactory substitution for the idea of goodness is something that stimulates positive sensations upon the moral faculties. This is how we know that some acts are inherently wrong or right. Some acts are moral, some are not. So some acts stimulate the moral faculties, some do not. There must be a distinction between these, some quality that some acts possess but others do not.
All things appear to have a cause even if this is not strictly speaking the right way to look at the world. So all things in reality can be related to a cause even if it is not a true cause. We can postulate goodness and badness as real entities in themselves that lie within some actions. This is what causes the stimulation of the moral faculties (the stimulation must have what can be identifiable as a ‘cause’). These are known as Moral Carriers.
It makes more sense for all these Moral Carriers to have the same origin since they cause similar stimulation of the moral faculties. Whatever is the source of goodness is which has infinite potential (if all morals acts contain good then we could in theory have an unlimited number of them – hence we need a large source of goodness). It is therefore reasonable to postulate the existence of infinite goodness.
Such a source of goodness cannot have a spatial existence since it lies outside of the sensual realm. We could never hope to place infinite goodness somewhere since this would be completely illogical. Therefore the nature of this goodness must also be divinely simple hence goodness cannot consist of quanta. Therefore the only way goodness can be present in the sensual reality is if infinite goodness is reflected dimly in certain acts in our realm. There are certain intensities of this reflection and this is why some acts are more moral than others and some are more striking to us.
The reason goodness must be innate therefore is that we cannot comprehend that which has achieved infinite extension. Moral goodness is a reflection of infinite goodness. This has achieved infinite extension. Just as we cannot explain the infinite, we cannot explain a reflection of it. We must just know what moral acts are.