What Am I? (Part 1)
Life is an impossible situation. We are cast into infinity – which came from nothingness – as a nothing of a human being with veritably infinite limits.
Born with no understanding, and no ability to make meaning, yet endowed with the ability to make sense of a domain that is essentially endless data in every direction, which defies definition, which can only be honestly understood perspectively; with each perceiver limited to a very particular perceptual place; an ultra-limited here/now in space/time, as is, from the point of view of one person, feeling how they are feeling at that particular moment, about whatever particular thing; as we perceive in moments, and shift endlessly, with all else. We learn, we perceive, we grow, we formulate ideas, which change over time.
The amazing impermanence of reality as actually exists; from the variable imaging, feeling, conception, of endless entities, of many kinds, which have complexified over time; which even among the human differ from creature to creature sometimes so drastically that the Worlds/Realities perceived person-to-person may as well be different Universes!
Let us not even speak of word of mouth as a means of ascertaining the true nature of reality. As what is not known by being seen and felt, what is not known by clear, reasonable, logical deduction based on given (solid) facts, and what is ‘known’ by say-so, and word of mouth: is not known, but a sad state of presumed reality by conjecture. Hearsay! To be taken as falsehood — or at least something to be poked and prodded curiously for our own epistemological edification.
What is a ‘human being’? Surely a collection of words to vaguely reference the most high of primates, general conveyed via means of textual symbolic assemblage, or small mouth noises. But, what does it really mean? Does that really say anything much about The Essence of Humanness? Whatever that might be.
What might be a fitting way to understand myself? I’ll harken to my textbook, shall I? Good old Biology, the Science of Life! There are endless well-payed experts in the field the spend their lives studying life. Well, what do they have to say about what it is to be a human being?
“Homo is the genus that encompasses the extant species Homo Sapiens, plus several extinct species classified as ancestral to or closely related to modern humans, most notably Homo Erectus. The genus is between 2 and 3 million years old, taken to emerge with the appearance of Homo Habilis and possibly that of Homo Guatengensis Homo is derived from the genus Australopithicus, which itself had previously split from the lineage of Pan, the chimpanzees. Taxonomically, Homo is the only genus assigned to the subtribe Hominina which, with the subtribes Australopithicina and Panina, comprise the tripe Homini. All species of the genus Homo plus those species of the Australopithicines that arose after the split from Pan are called hominid”
This all seems so far removed from my understanding of myself, and how or what I feel I am, that it is laughable to me to think even for a moment that this is any sort of adequate description of the very particular thing that I seem to be. How curiously abstract and alien these explanations of humanity seem to me! How unseemly and unfamiliar to this human this explanation of he himself seems!
So… how am I to take this seriously as a way for me to understand myself? OK, fair enough, I am some form of highly evolved primate, from a long linear progression of similar such creatures. But, even if I am (as the archaeological records seems to imply), how relevant to the furthering of my own situation in this particular world is such a group categorisations? I would submit that it is not very helpful at all, and that thinking about yourself in such a manner is a perfect way to make one unrecognisable to one’s self.
When you define yourself in a way that is so far removed from every day life that you need to leaf through a glossary of terms in order to get your bearings, I would submit to you that you should perhaps reconsider your way of thinking about your life. Surely, we need to think on human terms about our human lives.
That is one of the reasons I feel Philosophy is indispensable for those seriously attempting to understand themselves, as well as things outside of themselves. Philosophy is not no rooted in abstraction, and the abstractions it does involve itself with are generally practical; or, in the case of metaphysics, the abstractions are entirely that, and should not be taken as anything even resembling ‘fact’. When Philosophy abstracts, it abstracts through, logic, reason, and careful consideration; and when performed in a fitting manner, brings about insight that is coherent, cogent, and has bearing on the life of the human animal, and all its surrounding systems. Philosophy is the development and study of ideas, ideas constantly at play and at war with each other. In the world of Philosophy, the idea game is all about the survival of the fittest.