The eternal "who"

July 28, 2020 philosophy, identity

We perceive the light reflected from ten million leaves and see the pattern trees. We perceive the air on our skin or the dinner in our gut and feel the pattern me. But me should be us, an ecosystem of bacteria and viruses to which we each are the primordial forest. Nor is industrial agriculture missing – we suppress or enhance fertility, apply pesticides and fertilizers and sprinkle fairy dust into our brains. Kill a bug, adjust pH, lower the hydraulic pressure, change the ratios of this or that to the other, we cultivate our East Eden gardens.

Even the atheists among us believe in a version of the soul, even if it is not immortal. Beneath the Aristotelian accident lies a Platonic essence, our very own unique DNA. But that is a twinkling screen of flashing pixelish genes, ready to express an alternative manifestation at the drop of a protein. The chicken soup of our soul simmers in a cauldron that can, unexpectedly, serve out gazpacho or pho, dishes that nourish personae which our table companions can easily distinguish, even as we ourselves cannot.

The eco-stews of our persons imagine themselves not only accurately to perceive, appropriately to categorize and purposefully to direct the incidents of their preparation. Dinner believes it has free will, constrained solely by personal legislation it enacts. Impinging on our own gustatory illusions are enablers to be propitiated (forgive me, Father or pleeaase) or coerced (if worldly). We believe that nothing happens without personal agency, God’s or luck, that bitch goddess, or men and women and the lesser animals, such as dogs and children who we drape with moral vestments.

Just because we impose a pattern, however, does not create an explanation, or even a meaning. Newton’s clockwork project has no scope in Planck’s probability waves nor in our personal determinants whose calculation falls forever beyond Moore’s Law.

We are a result, not a cause.