Tuesday, September 29, 2009

13.7.2009 - bear with me for a moment: 1+1=3

Sometimes one thinks: "if I were this person..." or "if I could do such and such" or "if things were this other way...", etc. What do we really think when we consider these counterfactual universes? I mean, what is interesting about this kind of reasoning is that somehow one can imagine a parallel reality in which some things are different from this one; but is this at all possible? My thesis here is that in certain cases it may be a logical mistake, a fallacious belief that things "could be different". I mean: suppose that I ask you to imagine what if 1+1=3. You may answer that you cannot consider such thing as possible, and that you cannot find a way to "imagine" it. Suppose now that I ask you to imagine a regular polyedhra with 21 faces. You "bear with me" that it may exist, but this is not just a mathematical conjecture: for a moment you believe in its existence, in particular if you don't know about the regular polyhedron that actually can exist in 3d space. This belief, although not founded, can last for a whole life, or even centuries. The same may apply to reality as a whole: there may be things that are logically (physically) possible, and others that cannot happen. However, reality is too complex to "feel" it is logical/physical impossiblility. Hence, we "imagine" these impossible parallel universes (if one were to draw all the consequences in the past and future of this parallel universe, perhaps one would arrive to a contradiction, but this is what we cannot do). This points to something very interesting: it may be the case that the illusion of the Self is tightly related to these questions of "impossible" beliefs. The reason being that one can "imagine" being someone else, when this is just a meaningless construction of the mind. If one were to derive all it's consequences, then one would be forced to conclude that "being someone else" means exactly that: there is no trace of onself in the other, and hence either we "are" already that else, or, if one does not want to trivialize the meaning of "being", then the other option is to conclude that the very idea of "being someone else" is meaningless.

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