Let me be clear, this is an article I am writing for myself and for my own clarity. Why am I publishing it? To hold myself accountable and hopefully spark a conversation, for I understand some of these opinions to be rather controversial.
Let me start by the postulates.
The universe is materialistic.
It’s been a few centuries since materialism has been taken as a given in scientific reasoning; he hold our standards for understanding the natural world over a materialistic framework, but very seldom do we think about what this means when it comes to the understanding of ourselves. Why then, the double morality? We use materialism to make sense the world we live in, but believe our own existence to be different and abide it to different rules.
A materialistic system is one where a symbol can be created. This is, that the symbol can be measured. The opposite of materialism is essentialism, which is the belief in things that exist beyond what can be measure or observed by any physical tools. In contrast, an essentialist system is the exact opposite, and it portrays the existence of things beyond the observable; the soul, the ether, the idea of intrinsic purpose or morality; all that cannot, by definition, be measured.
The universe, undeniably, works in materialistic ways; that is that the way in which information is transmitted and obtained follows the materialistic postulate of “observability ergo existence”. Our brains are wired in many ways to see the world in essentialist manners, because it has been historically useful for our survival, but regardless of what believes you hold, there’s little case to be made about an essentialist reality outside our minds.
It does not mean a thing to think about something we have never thought of. Think about it — or rather don’t.
We are our brains.
This is a rather obvious thing to say if we believe in materialism, but it has some fun implication when we consider it deeply. First of all, it means that since our understanding of the world is finite and limited by our biological machinery. We, by definition, will never be able to truly understand anyone else’s perception, because the moment we do we are really just understanding through our own selves. We are inescapably locked inside ourselves, and in this way we can only accept we are helplessly, infinitely, and absolutely lonely.
We can’t really ever talk about “others” in the same way we can talk about out selves, because in the former we are just a really observing through the latter.
In the science world, we deal with these two postulates by taking them into consideration in the scientific method itself. The measurable-evidence centrism of science is what allows it to talk about an absolute reality, and the fact that we accept this reality we form to be constrained by the capabilities of our own minds is what makes it that much real, since it needn’t be absolute, it only need be human and the best we’ve got. By declaring all knowledge as reproducible and falsifiable, we effectively get ourselves closer to whatever absolute reality could be taken to mean, which is probably a reality that could be best held by all humans.
When it comes to the examination of our lives, these two postulates translate into the fact that we as a people cannot and should not live life by any other means or ends than our own selves. Not only can we not worry about living life in relation to anyone but ourselves, we cannot.
Fully realizing this and what this means, is the way of living an ultimately fulfilling life, and it means that we have to abandon all morality that we have not ourselves questioned.
Understanding why this thought has never really permeated our culture is key, and although I am not sure of this explanation, my best bet is that these ideas can be perceived as very asocial; and despite materialism has been treated as a given in science for most of its existence, living by materialism can seem dark, lonely, and wicked, but it is really the only way to understand the human condition that we all carry.
Accepting we are absolutely and definitely lonely, and the only thing between existence of the universe and the lack of it is a very useful way to prioritize what it means for one to live a good life. One could certainly see how this ideas could be used in horrible ways, but it needn’t matter how others could use these ideas under them circumstances when deciding whether or not to abide by them. The purpose of people is to flourish in the most constructive way possible towards all of mankind (my personal opinion), and thinking about how the universe is another way of meaning oneself is extremely useful and fulfilling. A knife could be used to kill, but that shouldn’t deter its use to chop an onion.
The practical ways in which this knowledge should translate into one’s life and actions, mostly revolve around the creation of your own morality. If you truly stop and reject all ideas of what is right and wrong, and start from scratch defining them for yourself, you’ll probably end up with a 99% match of what is commonly perceived as right or wrong, but you will now it’s not a blind compromise from your part, but rather a deeply held belief.
Moreover, that 1% difference will most surely be really important and eye-opening to your own definition of success and fulfillment. The story of human life is, in many ways, the story about socially-driven compromises, but it doesn’t have to be; and it shall never be seen wrong to wish for a more authentic life, and then again, it cannot be wrong, not if it is you who holds it as such.