Tag Archives: materialism

Brown

“There is a book on the table. The book is brown. I will accept the book exists. But does the colour brown exist?”

Brown is a wavelength. White light bounces off the book. The characteristics of the book absorb certain wavelengths. What is not absorbed is reflected. Let us call this isolated, reflected wavelength (low-intensity light at 600 nanometres) which reaches our eyes “brown”. The eyes, which are receptive to wavelengths, transmits that information from the retina down the nerves to the brain where it is equated to “brown”.

You see the book. I see the same book. The colour which is reflected corresponds to “brown” in your vocabulary and my vocabulary. But whether we see the same colour in the same manner does not matter. As long as we are talking about the same “thing” is all that is important.

In this sense, we have isolated the property “brown” to be the wavelength and given it this agreed-upon name. The wavelength exists as light, as energy. I would say “yes”, it physically exists.

No body, no mind. No mind, dead body.

At the beginning of the internet in the 1980s (mass access anyway) I had started an online persona. It was as though I was a no more than the digital bits. The possibility was that the physical body was of little consequence.

Living online from the 90s my wellbeing deteriorated. Dislocated, I felt lost and insubstantial.

It was during this time that I began to truly ask who or what I am. Is it my body and/or my mind that is the real me? Or is it neither?

Trying all options, I have, by process of elimination, narrowed it down to this — the body plays a huge part as to who and what I am.

The mind supervenes to the body. No body, no mind. No mind, dead body. The mind does not go somewhere at death. It ceases to exist. More accurately, when the physical process ends, being alive ends. The implication is that what we call a mind does not exist as such but is a process of an object, this particular object, the body.

There was an experiment once that tried to observe the change of weight at death as the soul leaves, effectively trying to give the soul a quantitative number. As expected no change was observed. It is like the weight of an appliance with and without the power on.

Some argue that our ability to measure this is simply not sensitive enough. Or it could be it just isn’t there. Given the evidence, the body is more real than the mind. And the mind needs the body to exist.

I play a game of tennis. I do not think a game of tennis.

Things, space, time, reality

There are things.

There is no other way to express the first encounter with the world. It may be that this is not the first encounter as such. Perhaps the first encounter is with nothing. But we can never know that. To suggest that nothing can be encountered is counterintuitive and illogical. I too must have been nothing. Nothing cannot be there, for that there would have to be no place. 

This world then must be there at the moment of its encounter. What the thing that is encountered matters not for now, only that there is a separation between there and not there. 

Space is inferred by the relationship of things.

I cannot make contact with space. It is there only from the sensing of things. Eventually, I will make contact with other things. And space will be inferred from this. 

Time is inferred from the change in the relationship of things.

Like space I cannot directly know it. I know time by things and space. The movement of things is the measure of time. I cannot be sure time exists other than from knowing it through things and space. 

Reality is the entirety of things, space, and time.

All that can be known is derived from reality.

When a person dies …

When a person dies their body (matter) remains and their mind extinguishes. That is observed. Under no circumstances does matter extinguish. It only changes. Conservation is observed. This consistency and predictability of matter is essential to my understanding (call it reason if you will). From nowhere else does my knowledge of the reality start except from the sensation, then perception and conception of it.

When I die, I will not continue as a mind or spirit but the matter will transform into something else that may or may not have a mind.

Not Materialism

I mentioned to a friend that perhaps there are physical or material things only. He said that is rather naive.

If I were to take the impermanence seriously, then even physical things (like mental things) do not exist as such. What is to say the appearance of things seemingly longer than thought is not as immaterial as thought itself. Just because the length of appearance is longer and seemingly more permanent does not mean it is permanent. So there is justification that things are not real as well.

Towards a Buddhist Materialism 

I have come to the conclusion that nothing exists except for the physical world. The mind is a product of an object, namely an body. A personality is a product of the mind. This evidentially converges with the Buddhist concept of non-self (anatta). To me, what is called the ‘self’ is not what it seems. It may be considered a kind of illusion.