#086…* AXIOMS 2, 3 {18}

Know too little and want MORE?     It’s time to build…upon what we’re both sure of.  In our last post, we promised

5 AXIOMS…then gave you #1

Here are 2 more–in just 6 words.

Axiom #2  &  Axiom #3

[To net these for your notes, push the DOOR for MORE.]




Maybe it was my* human consciousness, or mind, throwing down teasing alliteration (net…notes), or clichéd rhyme (door…more), or simply an itch to see what was hiding behind the “DOOR” to get you to this point. Now to hold you a bit longer. As I think about the remaining axioms, visual images  pop into my head: (1) Sitting in a car in the early morning in a nearly empty “flat Florida” mall parking lot in a new country development, watching cars zip along an Interstate on the horizon line in the distance. (2) Watching my son proudly describe–and show in several video chats–the step-by-step advancements of his first child, my granddaughter. And (3) hearing–once again in the early hours–my gray cat, a semi-constant 15-year-old companion in my tower office in PA,  still dancing in circles behind me chasing his tail. Can you picture these?

Let science show how all that’s connected**–especially with what follows…

To review:  Axiom # 1:  I EXIST.  I am real.  I have a lifespan on Earth that begins at a fixed point and ends at a fixed point.  That’s it. But it’s real, and some mark (maybe) will be made somewhere that I came, stayed a while, and then left. And there’s that corollary: “I can move myself, or parts of me, from here to there.”  

Now here’s Axiom #2:  I CAN PERCEIVE. I really wanted to use “see,” but that doesn’t work as well because all the senses are involved, not just sight. (That noise behind me, for example, is the cat.)

First there is me.  I know I’m real, and I know–am absolutely sure–that the keys I’m tapping are also real. They exist too. I know that some old-time philosophers might say the keys are an illusion, but you and I know they aren’t. If you aren’t confident about that foundation stone, you’re living in a fog and nothing you say or do is worth saying or doing. Watch your step crossing the street. It’s real, too, and so are the cars aimed your way. In the 20th century we put people on the moon–which is also real–and now in the 21st century we’re building upon a shared sense of reality that can achieve things like that. Science is good! See what it’s done!

My granddaughter from Day 1 is aware that there are real things that exist that aren’t her. Or course she doesn’t say it, but she cries and hollers when she doesn’t like those “things” (people, sounds, temperature, etc.) and she relaxes, sometimes smiles, and sleeps when she does. Oh, words to express this will come! But that’s a few more “days” down the road. And she’s reasonably sure about those things that are not her, or very soon will be sure. Now as to what’s in her diaper, she’s not sure about whether that’s really her or not–at least not yet. (You see where confusion begins!)

The next axiom is close to, and often connected with, this.  Axiom #3: I CAN FEEL.  This divides into two parts. (1) We say “we feel” when we touch real things and say they’re rough, bumpy, slick, etc. or when we sense the temperature of real objects (and, yes, the air is real like a stove is real). (2) We also say we “feel” when we’re happy, sad, worried, in love, scared, confused, excited, or are concerned about ourselves or other people or things. Such “feelings,” attitudes, emotions, hopes, fears, curiosity about, “wonderings” and the like is the way we’re using “feel” here. And they’re real.

[For now, set aside the fact that some animals on a very primitive level share some of these feelings, but are oblivious to others. For example, my gray cat curled up asleep at my side, I’m convinced, has no concern whatsoever that his grandchildren will end up in good homes***, or even has an interest in whether or not tomorrow will come. It will or it won’t.]

These–so far–are distinctive features of the human consciousness or the human mind: Aware that I’m living in a real world, (a) I know I exist; (b) using my senses, I can perceive there are other things, and other people that also exist; and (c) I know I have various feelings about myself, other things, and other people. All this is real. Of course I can make imperfect observations, or I can have unjustified feelings. I’m hardly perfect. To say much more would walk into what I say later under Axioms #4 and #5.

“But wait!” you say. “Isn’t all this just obvious! a slam-dunk?”

“Could be,” I reply, “if you’re sure you’re in the gym and the goal is low enough or you have springs in your feet.”

Axioms #4 and #5 next time.  (And our “flat Florida” image.)


* I have to forgo the “we” and use the first person to proceed here.

** In earlier posts we’ve pointed out the enormous difficulty of trying to explain the interconnectedness of the human mind. Certain scientists may believe that all human behavior is “determined” by responses sent out by the brain to the body after receiving certain stimuli. We believe that science has in no way proved this, or explained the richness of human consciousness. Humans, we believe, have much more freedom than than many materialists realize. (We will develop that later.) It is interesting to note that on July 29, 2013, the date of our writing this, on MSNBC News, in the Home/Science section: The State of the Universe, Daniel Engber had an article, “The End of Neuro-Nonsense: Is the age of mindless brain research over?” In it the point was made that overzealous neuroscientists had been exaggerating the capacity of certain brain scans to reveal the contents of minds. Economics had driven some research. The point? There had been certain popularizations of what analysis could reveal, and some legitimate research had been done, but interest had trailed off since 2008. This is only one assessment, of course.

*** To which, when I shuffled my feet, my cat looked up and glared with the thought, “Of course I can’t since you had me neutered.”






Author: John Knapp