This essay lays out an extremely brief account of what I believe (see evidence towards) is the source of existence and thus of perception, thought and knowledge. I want to say I have some overarching practical use for this truth-seeking, but I do not. Once you dig deep enough into questions of truth and knowledge they become both the means and ends of themselves. I cannot claim truthfully that knowledge of existence would help me better live my life, make more money, live more happily or whatever it is people prefer the ends of effort to be. So often I find that the truth (as close as we can get) to a matter is that the matter itself doesn’t matter. So if I had to tie up what I do in some nice little package I’d say I’m on a journey to figure out what doesn’t matter. And that the side effects of that might often yield to less worry, because I do not think even worry matters. That is, worrying doesn’t provide any use in matters of truth and knowledge nor does it matter in getting through the day.
I should also note that this essay and previous essays are by no means complete, fully consistent and without some leaps in logic and/or unexplained connecting of the dots. My intention is to always produce ever more tight arguments and deeper questions but both myself and any readers probably have limited attention at any given moment to go all the way “there.” It has and will continue to take more and more of my life to piece everything together and there will come a spacetime context in which I can more fully devote my energies to communicating much more coherently to those with the patience to muck through what every that communication becomes (paintings, books, essays, videos, discussions…)
The basic thesis
No finite thing is able to contemplate, recognize, think of, use, make sense of, perceive any other thing without reference to or a mapping to other things. A most basic activity of even the slightest awareness or perception requires difference. Perception is response to differences – a sliding scale of identity, sameness, similarity, dissimilarity, difference, opposite, negation, inverse.
Perception is reality. Becoming is reality. Difference is truth, the only truth, it makes the truth, becomes the truth. The whole of perceived existence – and what other existence could there be? – is difference.
Two key topics or issues or thesis arise:
Difference as fundamental source of existence
The role of the infinite pulling apart into the finite
A very brief description of Difference as the fundamental source of existence
0 is 0. A tautology of non existence. but 0 is 1-1, no longer a tautology, is existence. 0 becomes something, it becomes 1 – 1, 1 plus negative 1.
Is this a word game? Certainly and so much more than that. The whole of reality is an infinite game of differences and play of this is not that. Go deeper and forget the words, think in physical or abstract terms. A proton is not an electron, it is their difference that imbues them with existence. For if a proton = electron in word and physical terms there would just be protons and positive charge only, which isn’t charge at all.
Carry this all the way up from primitive mathematical and computational constructs to biology, chemistry, linguistic, artistic, social, political constructs. Everything is its difference from everything else. Not just in language or thought – how we conceive and perceive of difference, but in full actuality. Difference actualizes everything at every level.
What is a thought if not an exploration of differences? What is politics if not differences about laws and policies? What is genetic material if not differences in proteins? What are computer programs if not differences in use interpretations of 1s and 0s? What are YOU if not differences from others, from changes in the environment, from previous YOUs in other contexts?
It makes no difference to this reasoning if one denies concepts such as YOU/I or politics or anything else. IF those concepts are to exist it will come from differences. The only things possible that could not come from a difference would be NO THING (nothing) or EVERY THING (everything). And of that I will claim, nothing is everything, everything is nothing. nothing = everything. In having no difference between them, they do not exist except through an infinite descent into nothing or infinite ascent into everything. The becoming of reality is a finite experience of difference between nothing and everything.
To test this reasoning consider a few simple questions. What would it mean to represent every political view? Or what sort of behavior could we measure if all behaviors were present? What sort of mathematics would we have if every number were the same? What sort of identity would you have if you had all identities?
An even briefer description of the role of the finite
Consider a fractal. It is the same throughout or is it? It is an infinite loop of similarity and sameness where difference arise out finite awareness – we cannot experience the whole of a fractal. Or can we? is the finite description of a fractal program/generating formula enough to experience its infinite self similarity throughout? Even if it is, it is in identifying EXACTLY THOSE DETAILS WHICH CREATES THE DIFFERENCES (this is what a formula is!) that gives one fractal distinction from another fractal.
Universal computers are all equivalent in their abstract ability to compute anything that can be computed. They become different in use. They take on their existence through difference. My laptop is equivalent in everyway as your laptop except through our different uses – our finite exploration of that universality. If you and I with our laptops computed everything that could be computed our laptops would lose all difference, and in doing so would cease to exist as unique entities. That is, if this were possible, and we both pushed our laptops towards an infinite ascent to everything they would become nothing relative to anything else that was also universal.
Drop into something perhaps more abstract, like transcendental numbers (pi, e, etc). They contain an infinitude. They are only different in finitude. They become something through a finitude. Were infinite computation and infinite perception possible these numbers would be equivalent – interchangable. In their finite application they are distinct some things. Only through an infinite exploration can we fully experience these numbers and in full exploration they cease to have a unique existence.
Perhaps making it personal illustrates the point – if all of us were infinite in our lives and could experience everything and could be transformed through all genetic and epigenetic and nature/nurture contexts we’d all be the same and cease to have any unique existence. It is our finite biology and finite contexts that we become anything at all.
Tying together, briefly.
That nothing and everything can be “pulled apart” into differences is the ontological basis of existence. It shouldn’t come as some surprise that a conclusion to this reasoning is that the pulling apart of ALL DIFFERENCES is beyond our resources, and will forever be beyond our resources. But that this finite thing by thing pulling apart that is becoming is exactly and only what can fuel existence. The universe is the infinite becoming finite over and over and over and over into an infinite percieved collection of differences.
An incomplete but useful set of three links:
[a somewhat useful discussion on difference and information: http://plato.acadiau.ca/courses/educ/reid/papers/PME25-WS4/SEM.html]
[a useful categorization of information: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/information-semantic/#1]
[transcendental numbers: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transcendental_number#Numbers_proven_to_be_transcendental]