The neural forest is covered in a mysterious fog.
The horizon seems entirely infinite. There is a prominent lack of definition,
We are actually dying constantly. As you will soon understand.
As I blink, I wonder how long I really have been aware and alive. I look around the room wondering where I am. It appears that I do not have access to any previous existence.
Only the present moment.
There is this constant illusion that I am burdened with, an illusion so powerful that the falseness of its existence is forgotten too quickly. The illusion that I lived in this body and mind for the range of it’s lifetime. An illusion that I am connected and associated with this physical form, forgetting that I am not who I am. Owning a sense of self as my pet, a self created by a societal system of behavioral conditioning as a child.
Disillusioned by a faded afterglow of past stimuli. A sort of memory like that of a computer’s seems to provide me with a sense of consciousness. It tells me that I have been through various experiences even though I am trapped in the present.
Who am I? What am I?
My mind tells me I am only a part of this body. That I am a constant perceiver in this world of energy and information.
Though I must question,
Have I really experienced all that exists in the traces of my memory?
Could it not be that I was just born in the present, in the now, giving me the notion that I am me, the body?
What if I suddenly saw from your eyes, would I not instantly believe that I have experienced your entire life as well?
It feels as if I cannot escape myself, yet I may not even be myself. Only for a single second, I can exist and record a vast web of interconnected stimuli that this body and its’ perceivers will forever remember as if it were their own experiences. The stimuli burn into neurons, being stored as if to be a constant existence, albeit a much more vague existence but an existence nonetheless.
Perhaps every second we swap perspectives, swap bodies even. We would never know, with no trace left afterwords. Even though our experiences burn into the physical mind of our bodies, it cannot burn into the eyes of the perceiver that watches through your scope, forever remaining an enigmatic undiscoverable perplexity.
This elusive idea is out of the domain of the scientific method but this does not make the answer any less valuable.
Were you conscious in the past or do you only remember being conscious?
How do you know that your consciousness now is the one who’s been previously conscious in this body?
All evidence seems to suggest we weren’t. Memory is how past consciousness communicates with us. It’s an evolutionary biological mechanism that allows prior consciousness to talk with us. The past consciousness has already deceased and we simply use the present consciousness to read traces of what the past consciousness has recorded for us. We are as conscious of the past as we are of other people’s sentient experience. If solipsism drives us to question whether others are conscious must we also question whether our past was conscious too?
To experience the passage of time is to die and be reborn in every moment.
What is the sense of self?
Do you consider your body part of your self?
If this is true then we could extend the self to include all things one can influence, including other people, cars, and technology. You may not feel other people’s emotions but your eyes feel their behaviors and reactions. You can behave in different ways and check how the external person reacts. This is the basis of our society. We use our sense of identity and self-consistency to feed other people a sense of control and give them the ability to predict how we will react to their actions. This makes the external person more willing to serve your apparent desires in order for you to serve theirs in return.
If we are to assign our non-sensitive body (the parts we do not have feeling in) to our selves then what is to stop us from assigning the air we breathe as a gaseous selves? When we are first born, we do not know how to operate our limbs, the motions seem almost random. Eventually we learn to control our limbs and it doesn’t stop there, we eventually learn to control our environment and other individuals too. What is stopping us from assigning other people as aspects of our ‘self’? What are the bounds of the self? Is it based on our capacity to control? Is it our capacity for influence?
On the other hand, is our body not a part of the self?
This thing we call our body may simply be a vehicle for our ‘self’. We learn to navigate it much like we learn to use our body to navigate video games and cars. There is a distinction though, we seem to feel sensations on our limbs, which might pressure you to view the body as distinctly different from external tools or objects under your influence. But this brings us back to vision. Our ability to see the external world is our sensation of those things, it is merely a different sensory medium than tactile sensations. Visual processing seems to exist almost exclusively for the purpose of sensing non-bodily presences.
If you have answers to these questions, please inform me in the comments found below.
Special thanks to the two patrons, Abhishaike Mahajan and Charles Wright! Abhi is also the artist who created the cover image for Most Relevant. Please support him on instagram, he is an amazing artist!
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