Critique of Idealism

In philosophy, idealism is the group of metaphysical philosophies that assert that reality, or reality as humans can know it, is fundamentally mental, mentally constructed, or otherwise immaterial. Epistemologically, idealism manifests as a skepticism about the possibility of knowing any mind-independent thing. In contrast to materialism, idealism asserts the primacy of consciousness as the origin and prerequisite of material phenomena. According to this view, consciousness exists before and is the pre-condition of material existence. Consciousness creates and determines the material and not vice versa. Idealism believes consciousness and mind to be the origin of the material world and aims to explain the existing world according to these principles.

(Wikipedia entry for Idealism)

The problem begins with metaphysics. Is it possible to answer objectively the question of the nature of reality? Of course, knowledge of reality must necessarily begin with the mind perceiving. But this does not logically lead to the idea that only mind is necessary. A sensed reality is the only reality we have. The mind of a person is seen not directly, but always through her or his material. Idealism is correct in that knowing is a mental process, and that knowing does not mean access to the thing. But this does not mean primacy of the mind. The mind cannot exist without the body. Material determines the consciousness, not vice versa. Our knowledge of the science of neurology and the brain should be enough evidence for us to dismiss Idealism as a viable philosophical stance.

Buddhist suffering is not pain and grief

The first of the Four Noble Truths attributed to Buddha is life is suffering (dukkha).

But what is meant by this? Is every moment in life suffering? Am I in perpetual sadness?

Obviously, no. I am happy, or at least not sad at this moment. For most of my life I have been fairly happy and content. I can see that others also are not suffering or in constant pain.

What Buddha meant by this that at any moment we are susceptible to suffering. This susceptibility is what is meant by dukkha. Actual instances pain and happiness are “clues” to impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and the self as an illusion.

The World and its experiences

Regardless of who you are, where you are born, what religion you belong to, we can agree that there are things. We live by things being what they are. For example, a game of tennis can be played and enjoyed because we agree upon the nature of the world and its properties. Everything from not falling out of one’s bed to the exploration of the universe relies upon our agreement of the nature of the world.

From things we infer the properties of space. And from things and space we infer the properties of time.

From experience we understand or know The World, that is, things, space, and time.

Rationality is a process of a thing that experiences things, space, and time.

Sight, sound, touch

As I watch the clock move its second hand, I hear a corresponding tick, and feel a vibration from its ticking and movement.

Something will be amiss if any one of these senses were to be absent.

From experience this almost never happens. All three senses will be consistent to the process of the clock. And if one sense is consistently “missing” I can assume one of the sense organs is failing, rather than the reality is changing.

Reality has been consistent in my lifetime. It had been consistent in the past. Things we do now we’re done before. So there is no reason to think reality will change in the future.

The philosophy of “thrown in”

There are things.

When I say this I am more interested in the fact of knowing. I am confronted with things. I do not how I know have knowledge of these things. But the fact that this the first act that makes me aware of something.

I am “thrown in” to this knowing, this act of sensing, perceiving, and conceiving without a choice. Only later through reflection that I will realise I cannot know things without actual sensation, perception, and conception.

This kind of process is specific to me being the being that I am.

Ghost stories, reality, and The Philosophy of Flawfulness

I love ghost stories, but I love ghost stories because they tell us something fundamental about being human – that we are imaginative.

Even if ghosts are real (they are not) they do not interact with us in this physical world, the reality. So we may remove or dismiss them from the equation of reality.

But when ghosts interact with this world then there is trouble. The rules of reality no longer hold true. Things do not behave as expected. We cannot predict what will happen because there is something else in the equation of reality.

If ghosts do exist and things move accordingly their interaction then we must take into account their influence. And when that happens then that will then be the reality.

As long as we account for everything in the equation then we can predict what will happen. This is even true if there are ghosts.

I love ghosts and ghost stories only because they tell us not the truth about reality, but a truth about how we, the human being, flawfully see reality all the while being in the reality.

I can hear you now: “Flawfully isn’t a word!” Sure it isn’t. But the word flawfully is as necessary as ghosts are to being human. We are imaginative creatures. I would argue that the meaning of flawfully (to create and use something imperfect deliberately) is a necessary part of being us. It is also what separates us from other animals. You can perhaps even call this philosophy, the philosophy of flawfulness.