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05.02.2016

How can you prove the past?

Mike Cernovich once wrote something about memories not being quite accurate. That thought germinated in me for a while and I think it is very profound. Recently, I already speculated about the nature of knowledge. In short: How can you know what you know before you actually think a thought? During the time you are not thinking a thought, you are not even aware of its existence. Can you have confidence that next time you need to remember something particular, it will still be there?

But what happens to a thought while you are not aware of it? What happens to a memory? How can you know that the next time you remember something, it will still be the same thing? And when you remember it, how can you verify its veracity other than by your memory of it – that is, by itself?

So the only proof of the veracity of a memory is the memory itself. A memory that has possibly spent years in your subconscious, constantly affected by all kinds of stimuli. To trust that it will always be the same is blind faith!

I also believe more and more in the law of attraction and that reality can change itself according to your beliefs.

That also implies: If you believe that something happened a certain way, reality can adjust the past – which does not really exist, but to hell with that right now – to accomodate your perception of the now. This means that not only is your memory malleable, but so is reality.

Alright, alright. Fine. But that brings us to the problem of hard evidence, does it not. Real things. You write something on a piece of paper and put it in a box. Years later, you open the box and find exactly what you put in.

And yet, to fool around with Schroedinger’s cat, before we actually open the box and look inside it, our proof may as well be in there or may not be in there – and anything in between. But quantum mechanics my ass, I do not really get that stuff.

The point is that hard evidence can hypothetically behave the same way memories do. Before the next time we look at it, we are not actually certain it is still there.

But once we look at our hard evidence, our doubts must evaporate? Because it is a real thing? Because it can be touched?

This makes hard evidence and materialism – the etymology of the word reality traces it to: relating to things – seem like an absolute and harsh rebuff of malleable reality. To play with words: Reality disproves malleable reality.

If we are intellectually honest, though, we must acknowledge this: We are disproving malleable reality with our belief that reality is not malleable. Reality – things – is our proof that reality – things – is not malleable and does not change. But this is impossible without the core belief that, well, reality is that way. To make reality – things – a proof against malleable reality only works because of the unspoken axiom that reality is not malleable. Circular reasoning.

If we put a piece of paper on the desk and turn our back towards it, can we know for certain that it will still be there next time we look? And when we turn back around towards the paper, how can we verify that it has not changed?

Ah. Against our memory. We proof-read it and see it still is the same.

But I often proof-read my own articles and find that I like them more than when I was writing them. Have they changed? Or has just my perception changed? How can I know?

I could take photographs of the piece of paper. I could make a million copies of it and give them to everybody on earth. But what am I doing there? I am using things as a proof for things. Again, circular reasoning. Why should those million copies be any less malleable than the original paper?

Even if a million people have seen the piece of paper, it is impossible to say whether it has changed. Because every one of the million minds is subject to the same limitations I already discussed in my essay on knowledge. A million minds can forget. A million minds can change in a moments notice, so what will they verify the veracity of their copies against.

You could also decide to keep staring at that piece of paper. To never let it leave your awareness, so that you would notice any change. That seems like the only solution. But that brings practical problems: The need for sleep, the fact that you can hardly be aware of every single part of the paper at the same time and the fact that when you keep looking at something for a prolonged time, it temporarily vanishes – just try to focus on the pattern of your walls while falling asleep.

Yes, to keep staring at that paper is the only plausible way to make sure that it will not change and has not changed.

But then, how do you know that your own perception is not constantly changing? How do you know that you are seeing that piece of paper the same way you did a microsecond ago?

Just food for thought. Objectivists will shamefully call me a mystic and that is all cool. Maybe all this is bullshit. But can you prove it? If so, how? With an appeal like dude, you gotta believe in something. Fine. But then you have already admitted that this is a belief. What is the objective proof of a non-malleable reality? In the end, it comes down to your own belief that what you are seeing and remembering is still the same thing you saw and remembered or saw yesterday.

And if you admit that it is purely a belief and common sense, you may just as well believe in god and spirituality. Why not? You believe in electromagnetism too, do you not? It keeps your phone alive. And yet it is invisible.

What is the use of all my questioning? Simple. The depth of your questioning predetermines the profundity in which you can change your own life – and your perception of reality.

As the monk in the Matrix bends a spoon, you gain the ability to question your most basic emotions that have been with you all your life. For example in relation to women. Is that fear just how it is or is it just your personal world and reality that you keep alive?

Is it because of your mother? Because of a past life? Because of your faith? What if it is anything you want it to be? What if the past is whatever you need it to be?

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