Why Ask Why? We've Got Answers!
Yesterday, reader "anonymous" -- who certainly gets around -- posed 20 "Coon Questions," apparently hoping to engage Petey's bi-cosmic attention. To make it a bit more fun, I only glanced at them quickly, so Petey couldn't read my mind and cogitate on them ahead of time. We want this to be a purely spontaneous exercise in improvisational metaphysics, otherwise known as "flinging the C.S."
First up, "Why do I exist?"
As an aside -- no doubt the first of many -- where else but Raccoon Central can you go and have your cosmic riddles rattled one by one? Where else in cyberspace can you experience eternal life while you wait, or triple your crappy old karma back? Sam Harris' website? Oh sure, you could try. But unless he says "your questions are both meaningless to me and unknowable by me," whatever he might come up with, he would be lying. Metaphysically, he knows of what he speaks, which is to say nothing, precisely.
Now, "Why do I exist?" First of all, this is not a simple question but a compound one that contains within it no less than three mysteries, specifically, "Why" (or, WTF?!), "I" (or "Who, me?"), and "existence" (or, "Wo, dude!"). We can even pose these in a purely abstract way. In the Coonifesto, I refer to them as (?!), (•), and ( ), respectively. Each is an inevitable aspect of the other.
Why is there a why? One of the things that defines our humanness is the existence of this question, "why?" For billions of years -- 14 billions, give or take -- there was no "why," there was only "is." Although, even then, it is somewhat fraudulent to say that this was the case -- that the cosmos "existed" prior to the "why?" -- for, strictly speaking, it is not possible to say anything about the cosmos at a time when no observers were present within it.
As a matter of fact, this is one of the many ways the bi-cosmic Raccoon reconciles so-called "creationism" with science, because one cannot conceive of a cosmos without injecting subjectivity into it, as if it were always there -- which, of course, it was. Think of it: scientists, without giving it a second thought, are easily able to think about a time when scientists not only didn't exist, but couldn't possibly have even have gained tenure. This is similar to how we are able to look at a star that existed long prior to our being here. This is so because the cosmos is so entangled with itself, across barriers of space and time.
But if the materialist wishes to think consistently about the pre-life cosmos, he must not only remove himself from the picture, but remove all perspectives and standpoints. Otherwise he is engaged in a hopelessly naive and parochial anthropomorphism that makes Pat Robertson look sophisticated.
Prior to the emergence of life some 3.85 billion years ago, there was no "place" in the cosmos. There was only "noplace all at once." There was no "center," no point of view, no scale, no before or after, nobodaddy or mamatall.
In the absence of a human center (which, to paraphrase Schuon, represents the Divine center at the periphery), what arbitrary point of view should we adopt? Should we look at things from the scale of a billion light years, where the universe appears rather boring and homegeneous? From the point of view of an atom? A quark? But don't think in visual terms, because vision is a property of eyes, and eyes do not exist. Do not think in terms of hot or cold, hard or soft, solid or gas, loud or quiet, bright or dim, violent or gentle, because these are all properties of nervous systems that do not exist. Although we call it a "big bang," this is nothing more than whistling past the old grooveyard. Whatever it was, it was neither "big" nor "bang." From the perspective of eternity, it was equally a "small whimper." Or "medium sized groan." Or "soft sigh." Or "dropped tool box on my foot. Ouch!" It almost doesn't matter, so long as you know that you don't know.
As the very naughty -- but occasionally good, for heresy is often a disproportionate or isolated truth -- Hegel recognized, "there is no unmediated knowledge of the particular," or of our middling relativities. As Raccoon emeritus Whitehead wrote, "apart from the experiences of subjects, there is nothingness, bare nothingness." Or as Schopenhaur -- who has much to recommend, and is somewhat like a very grumpy and dyspeptic old Vedantin -- observed,
"If I take away the thinking subject, the whole material world must vanish, as this world is nothing but the phenomenal appearance in the sensibility of our own subject, and is a species of the subject's representations."
Just as the cosmos breathed into existence ex halio some 14 billion "years" ago, a bios magically appeared after about 10 billion of those years had passed. Nevertheless, the cosmos still did not exist, meaning the strict totality of all interacting objects and events. Forget about amoebas, bacteria, crustaceans, Cindy Sheehan, and other lower forms of life. My dog -- and she is a very good dog, mind you -- doesn't know anything about a "cosmos." She doesn't ask "why?" Rather, life just happens. While we can say that with the existence of life there is an "is," nevertheless, this is is simply what it is. It cannot rise above itself and ask Petey, "why is?"
Thus, the emergence of "why" is coterminous with human existence, which is to say, the birth of the cosmos, which is to say consciousness of the absolute. Why consciousness of the absolute? Because "why?" can only be meaningfully asked if it implicitly partakes of absolute transcendence and absolute objectivity, and therefore, absolute truth. In short, "cosmos" and "why" emerge simultaneously, because this duality ultimately comes down to the manifestation of the whole within one of its parts. We can only ask "why?" because we already know the answer, the answer being because He expectorated a mirrorcle, now you're the spittin' image." Furthermore, this explains why the cosmos is a tree of life for those whose wood be leaf. After all, all of these beautiful green truthy leaves don't just hang suspended in mid air. They are connected to branches, and branches are connected to the trunk, and the trunk is connected to roots which are firmly planted in the ground above.
Let's glance this wound from another mangle. You cannot ask "why?" unless you know about the existence of answers. And you cannot know about answers unless you know about the existence of truth. And you cannot know about truth unless you know that it is absolute, otherwise it has no right to the name. Thus, to say "human subject" is ultimately to say "knowledge of absolute truth."
It is perfectly reasonable to say that man, or the human subject, was made to know absolute truth, which also happens to be the absolute subject -- the One who sponsors all this inexplicable truth and subjectivity to begin with. In other words, to get back to our original question, "why do I exist?," the much deeper mystery is why do I's exist?, and why do they know so much? A deer, or a lion, or a lizard, is perfectly adapted to its environment. It only knows what it needs to know in order to survive. This is the "knowledge" that Darwinian evolution "programs" into the organism: "knowledge of the environment," mostly what to eat, what to be frightened of, and who to have sex with. Only humans can have sex with the wrong thing, such as Cindy Sheehan. That someone did so is a mystery that Darwin could never explain.
(This is also, by the way, why Eckhart could say "those who blaspheme praise God," for falsehood is a kind of testimony to truth.)
When we look at human subjectivity, we must ask, "to what is it an adaptation?," because it is so perfectly adapted to worlds that transcend the senses and which played no part in our Darwinian evolution. For example, the human subject is perfectly adapted to the world of music, or the world of mathematics, or the world of beauty, and of course, the world of metaphysics. Thus, in order to answer the question, "why," we can "reverse engineer" the human subject, and say that the answer lies in considering the nature of that to which we are adapted. This approach will yield many unswers to your questings.
As Schuon wrote, "The first ascertainment which should impose itself upon man when he reflects on the nature of the Universe is the primacy of that miracle that is intelligence -- or consciousness or subjectivity -- and consequently the incommensurability between these and material objects, be it a question of a grain of sand or of the sun, or of any creature whatever as an object of the senses.... [T]he evolutionary leap from matter to intelligence is from every point of view the most inconceivable thing that could be."
Exactly. It is not difficult to prove the existence of God, or the absolute Subject, for the same reason that eyes prove the existence of light. No one needs to be shown that light exists, for our eyes are perfectly adapted to it. Likewise, no one needs to prove the existence of God to one whose consciousness is adequate or "proportionate" to the Subject. Knowledge of the Absolute is proof of the Absolute. The phenomenon of human subjectivity proves the existence of that to which it is so adequately proportioned, or not even science could exist.
As Schuon has written elsewhere, unlike any mere animal, the human subject is comprised of 1) love, 2) will, and 3) truth, or virtue, freedom, and knowledge. As for "our purpose in the herebelow" (question #2), it can only be to love what is beautiful, to will what is good, and to know what is true. This constitutes an existential mission of which we cannot possibly be unaware, for even the most academonic among us would probably not say that the purpose of existence is to know falsehood, to do bad, or to have sex with Cindy Sheehan.... although you never know about the latter. Dennis Kucinich might.
Another way of saying it is that human beings are free to grow in love and knowledge. With regard to truth, it can only be prolonged and extended into the horizontal by the ceaseless exercise of "why?," so the purpose of why is to prevent the answer from becoming the disease that kills curiosity, and therefore, man and God. It also prevents cognitive "saturation" (the opposite of faith) and helps us to become what we already are and proceed where we are to go. However, being bi-cosmic, the Raccoon simultaneously shrugs his shoulders and simply asks, "Why not?," knowing we are always already there anyway.
That's the Iambivalent reason for existence in a notshall.