Sunday, June 14, 2009

Very Interesting Rocks

Let's take the Darwinian account of evolution seriously and think of human beings as one of the current products of a process of genetic mutation which started billions of years ago. Let's assume that the only difference between a human being, a beagle, and a geode are their bio-mineral compositions and the electro/chemical processes which occur between the various minerals of which they are composed. Let's abandon the notion of an eternal soul or an estrangement between a human being and the natural world. Let's view the entirety of existence as one continuum of minerals, electricity, and change over time.

How does one think about one's self within that framework?

I can understand maintaining ethical views if one disengages one's self from the nature world and posits a distinction between human beings and nature. I can understand living in the world if I am somehow a character within a setting; I am an entity and this world is a stage within which I can act as a free agent. But evolution destroys that distinction. Within the evolutionary viewpoint there is no distinction between myself and anything else.

Moreover, there is no "I" but rather there are simply value-neutral bio-chemical reactions occurring. To speak of "I" is to posit a collective where, truly, there is no collective. "My body" is aided by "my liver" where "my liver" is a posited amalgamation of particular bio-chemical reactions. But each of these collectives only exists from a certain point of view. From the perspective of my liver the smaller reactions of its particular components work to aid the whole of the liver. From the perspective of my commonly understood self my liver works to aid the whole of my body. Within the environment et. al. I am a chemical process which combines oxygen with carbon to make CO2, which ingests particular biological materials and secretes others. I am simply a part of the evolutionary process of change. Depending upon the perspective various units or "wholes" can be posited, but truly there are simply chemical reactions between particular minerals. Taken further there are only quarks or strings or whatever the smallest building block happens to be. That's all there is.

I do not know how to engage with reality as an agent, as an entity, once I realize that, truly, I am not an agent or an entity but rather that which I maintain to be my "I" is a particular grouping of bio-chemical processes. I am akin to a flame set upon a BIC lighter; I am what occurs when these chemicals and organic materials are amalgamated in this manner. There is no "I". Reality is simply bio-chemical-electrical reactions between microscopic particles.

How can there be love in the evolutionary worldview? How can there be friendship in the evolutionary worldview? How can there be an I or thou within a narrative of reality the characters of which are minerals and the actions of which are all chemical/electrical/thermal reactions? How can I be a person when, according to evolution, I am simply a very interesting rock?

That is the problem I have with empiricism understood from the scientific perspective. The final chapter of the story science tells after embracing the theme of evolution is simply reactions between microscopic particles; there are no human beings in science qua science. Love and friendship and compassion and empathy only occur within a narrative which posits human beings as separate and distinct from nature. I can only care about you within a narrative in which there is an I and a you. Science is not that narrative; science destroys that narrative.

What is the case? Is it the case that reality is a bio-chemical processes between microscopic particles or is there an I, a thou? It cannot be both; these stories are incompatible. So which is it?

I know that I want there to be an I; I want there to be some particular thous. But is there an I? Are there thous? Is there actually an I or is "I" an illusion, a fabricated amalgamation of some mess of chemical reactions between particles? When magnesium is burnt a particular sort of flame results. Is care, is empathy, is love simply the same sort of thing as that flame? Are emotions simply the result of particular chemical reactions understood from a particular perspective? Is consciousness simply the result of certain chemicals and minerals arranged in a certain manner?

What is the phenomena of life if reality is simply chemical reactions between particles?


_J_ said...

What the fuck is your problem, dude?

Srsly, STFU.

_J_ said...

No, you!

_J_ said...

No, YOU!

Christina said...

I think when you type comments back and forth to yourself you reach a new level of psychosis. You're one crazy fuckin' rock.