by Saksham Jain.
“All that I know is that I know nothing”
The mind of a human being is the glorious machine that is constantly at work and is more powerful than any computer ever invented by mankind and we often ask ourselves whether something so complex like consciousness and memory can be achieved using something as small as a brain. Science gives us insight into the functioning of the human brain but does not completely answer all our questions, that is why people turn to philosophy seeking answers to their questions.
What is consciousness? Is it just a result of random electrical impulses in the brain or is it something supernatural? Can it be achieved artificially? If yes then can they have it develop emotions? Such questions are the ones that have helped revolutionize how we think of the world and have given rise to new perspectives and ideas of the nature of the universe.
The way we think grows along with our age.
From a very small age, we are taught about God, a supreme entity that controls and manages the universe and is also the reason for its existence. We are taught to worship him as he is the one who fulfills our needs and helps us and he is who we must go to after our lives. But there also exists a demon, to whom the people who do not worship god go to as a punishment. We are taught that all that God preaches is “good” and everything which goes against is is “bad”. We are taught to believe in the soul and that it never dies. We are taught that we will always face the consequences of our actions so we must never do anything harmful to other human beings. Spirituality is the only truth and everyone who doesn’t believe in it will suffer the consequences. As children we take in these teachings and accept them without a doubt, we live our lives with a simple model of the universe, there is a creator and a destroyer, we do not think of death and sadness we are taught to be afraid of the monsters for they will punish us and we develop a ‘love’ for god.
There comes an experience that rattles us or simply a realization when we ask ourselves ‘why?’, this is the birth of independent thinking, at this stage we start asking questions and seeking answers. We learn that everything that might be told to us isn’t true and that leads us to stop trusting different sources and think independently. We try to learn about how different people perceive the world and what they have to say about life, the universe, and everything. As for what drives us? The truth, nothing but the truth, many spiritual people think that we develop a ‘hate’ for God but that is not true we simply want to seek the truth and that’s what drives us.
First, we ask ourselves ‘what source of information can we trust?’ and then decide that only reason and logic can give us the truth, and every other source of information is not reliable, we become what has come to be known as a ‘rationalist’. Rationalists believe that anything that can be reasoned out is true and what can’t be I’d merely a theory or suggestion. ‘False until proven true’ become our motto. The founder of this philosophy was Rene Descartes who thought of this during the Renaissance which was revolutionary for his time. He famously said ‘I think therefore I am’. We listen to logic and nothing else and science becomes our religion.
Another major turning point that came in my life was when I had a thought that maybe I couldn’t completely trust my reason, what if reason itself is compromised? And this led me to think about what I can completely trust and I realized that I couldn’t trust anything and at that moment I realized that humanity is so minuscule compared to the universe that it is insignificant. There is nothing humanity can achieve that can change the balance of the universe, we are lucky to even be alive! We don’t even know what ‘alive’ truly is because all we have done till now is theorize. I thus stopped valuing life, I thought of it as a mere product of chemical reactions that are just enough to keep me ‘alive’ the thinking that I do, also is a product of electrical impulses in our brain. Does anything even matter? In the cosmic sense, mankind and everything it has achieved has no value.
I thus have devoted my life to understanding what’s around me because I feel that the only thing that man can strive for which has any value is knowledge and understanding of the universe. We are born and ‘alive’ only to understand what is it that surrounds me and the vastness of the universe and the complexity of the mind both amazing.
Maybe my thoughts and aims in the future would be different and I might think of the universe in a different way but all I know is that my curiosity is never going to die.