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THE UNKNOWN

 

So, where is HERE? Our very need to affirm things, to have them explained and understood, betrays an inherent doubt built into the human psyche. It indicates that we are driven by a fundamental uncertainty. We tend to appease it with various self-assuring schemes and simplifications.

We rarely really wonder what underlies all that which we face, what unknown context surrounds the world we know. We do not reflect much on how widely divergent may be the significance of our aims, efforts, and accomplishments in light of those unknown and external factors.

One thing is certain: reality stretches out further than our knowledge. The portion of reality which is accessible to us signifies what it does because of a particular relationship it happens to share with that portion of reality which remains unknown.

The ultimate reality is that the nature of ultimate reality will remain unknown to us for now. Given this, only such pursuits should be undertaken which we are prepared to give up at any instant. Having no objective knowledge, one is free to use his subjective criteria to choose or to not to choose at will. We don't know where HERE really is.


ALL
All = Ultimate Reality
All = Known + Unknown
All = Knowable + Unknowable
Knowable = Known + Not-yet-known
Unknown = Not-yet-known + Unknowable
All = Known + Not-yet-known + Unknowable


*            *            *

I postulate unity with my background. I am of the universe, and within it. I am thus fundamentally compatible with it. Whatever its primary nature, I too must reflect it. I am a constituent of everything. Therefore, to ascertain meaning, I seek the broadest spectrum of connectedness with all that which surrounds me, with the vast UNIVERSE UNKNOWN.

The self is a part of all existence. Whatever characterizes ALL EXISTENCE also characterizes the SELF.

*            *            *

We tend to equate what follows from the sum total of our individual life experience with the COMPLETE EXISTENCE. To many of us it is all there is. With that we construct our mental representations of reality and go on about the business of living unperturbed by any further need to question or probe.

And yet, at any given time, we are in contact with only a small local portion of the TOTAL REALITY. Even to the most learned (or blessed) amongst us, its glimpse is ever transient, changing and fragmentary. A mind may either align with THE ENTIRETY, or focus selectively on any of its parts. No matter how broad or narrow its focus, the mind will ordinarily assume the local level of reality within its grasp to be all-inclusive – despite its incompleteness. It must be trained not to do so.

*            *            *

As THE WORLD KNOWN fades from view, THE WORLD UNKNOWN stretches beyond. THE COMPLETE REALITY is defined by a relationship between the two. The ultimate nature of THE COMPLETE REALITY can be given by a ratio of all-that-which-is-known to all-that-which-is-not-known. This ratio, of course, can not be ascertained.

That which constitutes our immediate and discernible surroundings exists embedded within that which is distant and removed. However, the local plane is what it is, because of the nature of the realms unknown that extend beyond it.

The WORLD KNOWN is a bubble suspended in the WORLD UNKNOWN. As we accumulate more and more empirical knowledge, the bubble grows and the boundary between the two worlds expands, but THE UNKNOWN never really diminishes - in fact it only reveals its vastness, as it is pushed further back. In the end it remains a constantly infinite.

No matter how advanced our knowledge, we can never know whether THE WORLD KNOWN constitutes something like 1% of THE ENTIRETY, or 99%.

The knowledge of person (A) may be 10 or 20 times that of person (B). However, no matter how limited or extensive either person's knowledge, it will eventually run into THE UNKNOWN.

Comparing to THE UNKNOWN is like comparing to infinity, or dividing by zero. It will not yield a definite value. Thus, both (A) and (B) have an equal claim to ABSOLUTE KNOWLEDGE. It is really our common ignorance with respect to things ultimate that renders us equal.

*            *            *

Descriptions of the local reality, based on scientific inquiries and examination of parts, are ever changing, ever outdating and ever subject to revisions. Regardless of how advances may be our empirical knowledge, it invariably fails to provide a complete picture of reality. In so failing, it implicitly negates factors which surely exist, and exert a potentially unlimited impact on the reality within the local realm. At the most, our knowledge describes a fragment without placing it within any context.

No matter how well we manage to explore the empirical world, no matter how far we advance our knowledge and control of the immediate physical world, we shall never know what underlying conditions precede it and make it possible.

Our KNOWABLE EXISTENCE is incomplete and conditional. Depending on what is contained within THE UNKNOWN, infinitely divergent rules may apply in the broader realm, but not knowing which ones, we are forever without the objective basis for upholding any adaptive posture, and ultimately, without means of discernment.

*            *            *

The fundamental conditions underlying subatomic particles determine the nature of all subsequent, more complex creations. If these conditions were to change, the world as we know it would be profoundly altered and reorganized. All complex structures would surely disintegrate. How stable and enduring are these most "micro" of conditions?

Likewise on the "macro" level. How can we be sure of anything at all, given a potentially infinite number of possibilities with respect to a larger, external environment, one within which our KNOWABLE EXISTENCE is embedded? If it were to change, incalculable corrections and restructurings would inevitably ensue on all levels of existence.

No matter how much we learn, we can never know what underlies the smallest constituents, currently defined as the most basic building blocks for all secondary structures.

Similarly, we can never know what larger context surrounds our very latest and most all-inclusive, rigorously scientific or spectacularly imaginative model of ALL THINGS.

Thus, the eternal doubt is always with us as to the primary conditions that underlie and precede both the micro and the macro extremes.

*            *            *

We are not in communion with GOD. We are separate from THE COMPLETE KNOWLEDGE. Only a small fraction of THE UNKNOWN may in fact be composed of THINGS CONCEIVABLE. The significance of THE UNKNOWN remains AN ABSOLUTE. We continue to be without answers concerning things most basic.

What really underlies reality can never be ascertained in the course of a human life. We remain totally subject to the power of its primary conditions, with no possibility of ever appreciably affecting it back.

We want to flee from this realization, so we advance various postulates about the "Natural Order", "Divine Order" or "New Order", and then carry on accordingly, as though we knew the FINAL TRUTH. Any proposition is allowable, but it must remain at the mercy of time - conditional for its entire duration and ready to be stricken.

It is ever possible to maintain that a formulation presumed to be final depends for its continual validity on the unknown factors that lie beyond the scope of the current knowledge. Any formulation as to the final nature of THE WHOLE may be advanced as readily as its exact opposite. Both will be equally conditional, and both will ultimately rest on FAITH. Therefore FREEDOM!

Thus we know nothing - and that is something. THE UNKNOWN is a variable of potentially infinite relevance, capable of altering most profoundly the significance of THE WORLD WE KNOW.

Although totally unsure of our final condition, nevertheless, we can be certain of the momentary value of our subjective experience. An urgent question arises:

to what degree does our immediate reality reflect the ULTIMATE NATURE OF THINGS? is the small, local sample that we can sense directly sufficient to warrant generalizations about the fundamental aspects of the whole universe?

The question becomes an important one, if we seek survival in the most permanent sense.

*            *            *

By definition, there can not be any means of verifying THE UNKNOWN. The only pronouncements concerning THE ENTIRE REALITY that may be justifiably deemed adequate are those which recognize the presence of THE UNKNOWN as a constant factor.

Truly enlightened may be only these formulations which are imbued with a deep appreciation of how inexhaustibly vast is the pool of possibilities with respect to THE UNKNOWN, and how absolutely arbitrary must be any selection that we may make. With these provisions, we may guess.

We may then reasonably assume that THE WORLD BEYOND OUR POWERS TO DISCERN constitutes a harmonious whole with THE WORLD KNOWN, and that both share certain fundamental properties and are subject to the same general laws. They really are ONE REALITY. It is just that our human means of discovery are limited, temporary and local. What will therefore ultimately prevail in our island of THINGS KNOWN must be consistent with the laws that govern ALL EXISTENCE.

Thus, in a properly dualistic fashion, THE UNKNOWN signifies a perfect constancy embedded in an infinite richness of possibilities. Although from our standpoint it MAY be anything at all, it really IS a specific something!

We cannot look God in the face, because God is THE UNKNOWN. This realization can serve as a starting point for all survival strategies. Acknowledging THE UNKNOWN as a permanent presence produces the necessity of forming a relationship with IT.

Humans are a part of reality as much as anything else; their nature can be expected to be fundamentally compatible with that of THE REST OF EXISTENCE, either KNOWN or UNKNOWN. If we are of this Universe, we must have a place in the EXTENDED, COMPLETE REALITY. However, this may not always be plainly evident from its small fragment - THE WORLD KNOWN. Therefore FAITH.

*            *            *

An atheist refuses to acknowledge THE UNKNOWN. He mistrusts it, and negates its potential significance. For all purposes, he fixes it at zero – at a definite, if arbitrary value. Of an infinite spectrum of possibilities he thus selects the most nihilistic one.

This simplifies his world, however, so he can limit his concerns strictly to operations within THE WORLD KNOWN. He then gives himself a free hand in all endeavor in the immediate, local world.

A religious person subscribing to one of the conventional religions acknowledges that THE WORLD KNOWN is not a complete reality. In so doing he is far ahead of the atheist . He is moved by a desire to know the nature of ultimate reality, the very one he is barred from knowing by definition. He then attempts to create a comprehensive rendition of reality within the framework of his religious dogmas – an ideal reality, with a meaningful place for a human subject .

There is a definite value in forming a positive expectation with respect to THE UNKNOWN – a meaningful one from the standpoint of basic human longings and desires. Since with respect to the UNKNOWN anybody's guess is as good as any, why not use positive assumptions?

However, having acknowledged the existence of ultimate reality is no basis for ascribing to it any concrete characteristics and treat them as definite knowledge. In so doing religious dogmas are just as wrong as the atheists, who claim to know the ultimate truth. Acknowledging the ultimate realm means allowing for an open spectrum of infinite possibilities, regardless of the projections we may choose to make.

*            *            *

The irony of existence lies in the fact, that for any human being it is exclusively confined to his individual experience, and yet, its sum total inescapably leads to the realization of presence outside of it.

An evolved consciousness will contain a sense of its own incompleteness and will intuit that THINGS KNOWN are conditional, and depend on THINGS UNKNOWN.

If we refrain from simplifications with which we presume to explain all phenomena of GREATER REALITY, we are forced to acknowledge that all things known, or likely to be known, do not add up to a complete and final rendition of existence. Elementary questions remain without answers; guessing and doubts abound - our knowledge is simply ever finite.

Of significance is the fact, that by means of various ideologies, religions, philosophies or empirically supported constructs, humans have always endeavored to uncover a single, integrally consistent interpretation of ONE, ALL-INCLUSIVE REALITY. Somehow we seek the key, or the formula which would explain it all.

There is then an implicit idea, deeply embedded in the human psyche, that the reality has an ULTIMATE NATURE, and that this nature can be known in some sense. It is significant, because this idea, as universal as it is, does not, and cannot, find any support, or even the possibility of verification within the LOCAL WORLD which surrounds us.

We sense our incompleteness and feel compelled to find our place in the surrounding context. A misguided way of going about it is to ascribe A SPECIFIC CONTENT OF CONCRETE IMAGES with respect to all that, which by definition can not be ascertained.

It leads to the worship of idols and sets the stage for endless conflicts among adherents of a potentially infinite number of possible systems of belief.

A better way might involve resisting the temptations to assign form to THE UNKNOWN. We may better chart our relationship with that which extends beyond our powers to sense, perceive and grasp intellectually, by addressing it as THE HIGHEST PRINCIPLE - purely abstract and yet commanding and primary for all subsequent things, either known or unknown.

If we find it within our power to place all our hope and trust in that unique concept - concept devoid of all form and concrete imagery, but symbolically representative of the primary and the ever-lasting essence, we will liberate our captive minds from the tyranny of false self-identification.

We will then shed the self-defeating assumption of supremacy of matter over the spirit. We will no longer hold a material form to be a vehicle, and a necessary precondition for subjective phenomena of consciousness.



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