Everything Is and Is Not.
A while back I wrote a babbling post about the root paradox of everything; the separateness of our conscious experience and “reality.” I hope to expand a bit upon that, and maybe clarify things a bit.
Consciousness is an illusion. That statement is somewhat ludicrous because illusions are themselves conscious experiences, and we are stuck in an odd loop. In any case, consciousness is the convergence of sensory experiences, thoughts, and memories, all of which serve to make us aware of our environment and our selves. All of this is merely patterns and physical movements, molecules self organizing to form an organism which has a continuity of experience, and develops a sense of self. This sense of self, it can be easily argued, is evolutionarily beneficial, and our increased awareness of our environment relative to other animals has certainly given us advantage.
Yet consciousness is a fact, because we experience it. We know (assume) that others experience it too, and this assumption will be proved correct once we are able to actually merge our consciousnesses. This fact of conscious experience makes certain things hard to understand. For instance, when you boil down everything that is a person’s decision making process, all of the environmental factors and internal brain patterns, the only logical conclusion that can be arrived at is that the person has no free will—his decisions are made by his brain before he’s ever aware of it. But those brain patterns are us, we are the patterns in our brain, even if we aren’t aware of them. And we do make choices, yet those choices are determined by the environment (which includes our bodies). We are stuck in a paradox.
Part of the problem with free will is that it is assumed that an agent exists. When a person claims that “I chose to do this by my own free will” there is an underlying assumption that “I exist,” and that assumption is false (and true). Yes, “I think therefore I am,” but once again, who is this “I” that is thinking? In the end, we are but an accumulation of matter which processes information, and we are stuck in an infinite loop of self awareness.
Everything is and is not. When the universe dies a peaceful heat death, the conscious entities that composed it will look back and realize that all knowledge is just assumptions built upon previous assumptions, and everything that has been accumulated is meaningless and will dissipate into heat. Their existence had simply been a momentary convergence of order in the chaos that is the law of all existence. When this moment of existence is over, what is there to show for it? It will be as if none of it had ever happened, and for all purposes that is the truth of the matter.