Monday, August 4, 2014

Hume's Carrots: The Philosophy of the NOW

I don't want to live in a prison. I know carrots are orange and perhaps in sufficient qualities are good for me. I like the smell of cut grass especially in July when the weather is humid. I appreciate that with age you shed your beliefs about the world like the leaves on the Autumn trees.

Such things maybe true:-
"But you should try living in the NOW as that's all we've got" ...."Why" I answered... that sounds terribly uninteresting, if I was a philosopher of Hume's inclinations, I would simply glibly answer that the NOW is nothing more than the constant meeting of cause and effect, and, the NOW is nothing more than being aware of this interaction. However on closer examination I might become disturbed by this very neat answer supplied by Hume. Does causation always work from the past to the future? Are not causes and effects in many cases simultaneous, the light and the switch being pressed for example? If the light had gone on in the room then I must have pressed the switch, implying that effect gives cause in this case, but, the opposite is equally true too, and, neither is the outcome of a purely logical or linguistic contradiction. Even Hume's assumptions that there is a realm of pure causes and another of pure effects seems to be very dubious, as he seems to fall in the empiricist's fallacy of creating abstract dimensions in order to describe the empirical realm which is meant to be complete in itself. Additionally, if the NOW is a simultaneous event where cause and effect are constantly meeting, does it describe the experience of these events to the casual observer?. Where for example does the cause end and the effect begin, and what about the way events are registered when effects create a cause, and what does this mean for the way the observer would register time in such cases? If there is such a state as the NOW exists, then surely it must exist in a very different manner to that what is normally thought and understood by this concept in traditional philosophical circles. A revised concept of the NOW, would be one that pertained to these so called Non-Events in the world, which would be removed from the linear laws of causality as they are commonly understood by most philosophers. This is a radical departure from the simplistic understanding of cause and effect in the NOW as described by Hume and his successors.  

However, Hume would still answer that we are  justified, even if this is the case, in asking how such non-events can be experienced at all, what is their actual ontic quality, in other words, how can a given observer experience a Non Event in our shared reality called the world?? Perhaps to answer such questions the very concept of what is meant by a shared, common public world, and that such experiences of this type would seem to posit the notion that our shared world we all experience is not uniform and the same in terms of the events it can present to each observer. Such conclusions if true would  take us far away from the mechanistic 17th century logic of simple cause and effect. The  "Now" of every "Present" moment would appear to be more a place of probabilities and intentional non-purpose, a realm more akin to the periphery of psychology and physics rather than linear logic!

So the next time you're told to live in the NOW ask the Guru sitting next to you to describe what they actually mean by living in the NOW!