Why is there anything at all and rather not nothing

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JohnB53
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Why is there anything at all and rather not nothing

Post by JohnB53 » August 15th, 2018, 9:15 am

The age old Phenomenological question-"Why is there anything at all and rather not nothing."

Heidegger's question in "Being and Time" is that it has long been assumed we know what we meant when we spoke about the concept Being. In his book Heidegger attempts to rework this age old question. He does this by asking "what does it mean to be." His conclusion is that the state of Being is "Historical" and that the state of Being must be examined within Historical context. It is my understanding that by Historical Heidegger means our place within the Tradition to which we belong.

I agree with Heidegger and feel that Being can only be determined by analyzing Being from its historical context.

What thoughts does the community hold?

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Re: Why is there anything at all and rather not nothing

Post by LuckyR » August 17th, 2018, 12:25 am

JohnB53 wrote:
August 15th, 2018, 9:15 am
The age old Phenomenological question-"Why is there anything at all and rather not nothing."

Heidegger's question in "Being and Time" is that it has long been assumed we know what we meant when we spoke about the concept Being. In his book Heidegger attempts to rework this age old question. He does this by asking "what does it mean to be." His conclusion is that the state of Being is "Historical" and that the state of Being must be examined within Historical context. It is my understanding that by Historical Heidegger means our place within the Tradition to which we belong.

I agree with Heidegger and feel that Being can only be determined by analyzing Being from its historical context.

What thoughts does the community hold?
I agree that is a perfectly reasonable view, though not the only or best one.
"As usual... it depends."

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Re: Why is there anything at all and rather not nothing

Post by Hereandnow » August 17th, 2018, 10:08 am

JohnB53
The age old Phenomenological question-"Why is there anything at all and rather not nothing."

Heidegger's question in "Being and Time" is that it has long been assumed we know what we meant when we spoke about the concept Being. In his book Heidegger attempts to rework this age old question. He does this by asking "what does it mean to be." His conclusion is that the state of Being is "Historical" and that the state of Being must be examined within Historical context. It is my understanding that by Historical Heidegger means our place within the Tradition to which we belong.

I agree with Heidegger and feel that Being can only be determined by analyzing Being from its historical context.

What thoughts does the community hold?
What is Being? Wrong question, or, not the most important one, because it leans toward abstraction. The right question gives due emphasis to ethics. I am reminded of Hume who posited that if it were reason's choice, reason could just as well scratch out human existence. It possesses no caring and is just a form, a means for utility (Hume didn't say that part, I did). Heidegger did underscore caring, but, and here is where the mark is missed, he didn't talk about the ontology of value (that I have read. I will, one day, read on). When one the confronts the world with the intent to give analysis to it's phenomenological presence, there, at the level of the most basic questions, lies value, the presence of, not simply sensate content as such, but the affliction and the joy, the horror and the bliss, and so on. This is what makes our existence interesting at all: is the "interestingness" of it; the fact that things in the world are valuative. See Dewey's Nature as Experience (but do not think I hold to all things Dewey): What is a stone? for example. Of course, Kant was right long ago to say that intuitions without concepts are blind. It takes both, and a lot of subsequent philosophy talks about this. But this sensation, is it ever sensation merely? No: we care about what we observe, and this is part and parcel of experience, all experience, for none is exempt. But caring, and here is my point, caring is a feature of human dasein. What about the presence of, if you will, good and bad, in the moral sense, that is? What is ontology of pain and joy, and all that is subsumed by these? What is value-in-Being? THAT is the question.
We live under the illusion that science can talk about actuality at all. (See Kierkegaard's Concept of Anxiety and Sickness Unto Death. There is a lot of Kierkegaard in Heidegger, Sartre, Husserl; Wittgenstein thought he was the greatest). If you believe there is such a thing as actuality, you are bound to believe in a transcendental ego. And value is, by parsecs, the most profound dimension of actuality. This is without argument. And finally, science, which rules everyone's thinking, has nothing to say whatever about value, or, metavalue (I mean, sure, I value these sunglasses, but what is it to value at all? One must look plainly at a thing, and Kant does with judgment and reason.)

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Re: Why is there anything at all and rather not nothing

Post by Consul » August 17th, 2018, 9:52 pm

JohnB53 wrote:
August 15th, 2018, 9:15 am
The age old Phenomenological question-"Why is there anything at all and rather not nothing."
"There is just no alternative to being."

(Rundle, Bede. Why there is Something rather than Nothing. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. p. 112)

Being is and nonbeing cannot be, so being must be. Simple as that!
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

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Re: Why is there anything at all and rather not nothing

Post by Greta » August 17th, 2018, 11:37 pm

Alternatively, there can either be something or nothing, one of the two. The former is known and apparent, the latter relative and theoretical. Such a question can only be asked if there is something. One cannot ask why there is nothing rather than something, although I can think of some who might try :)

Phenomenologically, nothing implies absolutely perfect and stable equilibrium and such a notion in no way reflects any aspect of reality. Thus, matter exists because in the early universe there was more matter than antimatter by a factor of one in one billion. That minuscule level of disequilibrium was enough to bring all this about.

Ironically, life tends to spend its existence being seeking greater equilibrium even though it's the lack that makes everything possible.

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Re: Why is there anything at all and rather not nothing

Post by Hereandnow » August 18th, 2018, 1:11 am

Consul:
Being is and nonbeing cannot be, so being must be. Simple as that!
And day is day, and night is night. How is this not an empty spinning of wheels? You take the term 'being' to be simply a wheel to be spun. How does this work when you're speared through the kidney? One has to know at the outset what it is that is meaningful in the world that warrants the term at all. It's not logic. It's not reason. It's not material objects bumping and grinding. It's value.
Greta:
Alternatively, there can either be something or nothing, one of the two. The former is known and apparent, the latter relative and theoretical. Such a question can only be asked if there is something. One cannot ask why there is nothing rather than something, although I can think of some who might try :)

Phenomenologically, nothing implies absolutely perfect and stable equilibrium and such a notion in no way reflects any aspect of reality. Thus, matter exists because in the early universe there was more matter than antimatter by a factor of one in one billion. That minuscule level of disequilibrium was enough to bring all this about.

Ironically, life tends to spend its existence being seeking greater equilibrium even though it's the lack that makes everything possible.
If I were to look at the matter with assumptions like yours, I would first point out that matter and energy are interchangable--two forms of being. So there being an equilibrium or not does not determine whether being emerges or not. And to say that “Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another” as Einstein did, means that being is eternal.
Of course, if the issue turns to being as we know it, then this is finite, but it does miss the point of the asking, which is to play upon the intuition, what Jaspers called the "sense" of being, which registers as a kind of dull thud on the inquiring consciousness, at first: quaint, curious, but without consequence, and this is why the question fails to be about authentic being. Authentic being is what lies before your waking eyes; it is the material ground for any question: experience (the only thing anyone has ever actually encountered at all). Experience is saturated with meaning, purpose, value. Thus, the "why is there anything at all?" question, given that it hinges on 'anything" and all things issue forth in experience, and experience is saturated with meaning, purpose and value, is really about these latter and not at all about the dumb stuff of the universe, which is just an abstraction of being. It is abstracted from the robust being of living, caring, yearning, suffering, and so on. This is Being.

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Re: Why is there anything at all and rather not nothing

Post by Greta » August 18th, 2018, 3:32 am

I dispute that hominid emotions are more important or relevant than than "dumb stuff" like the cosmos in this question. Really? Yes, life is in a sense a journey of learning how to reduce the suffering inherent to it, but it's only a part of a larger scenario.

The universe is far from an abstraction but what we ARE - and we might remember that if we were less anthropocentric.

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Re: Why is there anything at all and rather not nothing

Post by Thinking critical » August 18th, 2018, 5:36 am

JohnB53 wrote:
August 15th, 2018, 9:15 am
The age old Phenomenological question-"Why is there anything at all and rather not nothing."
Just because language allows us to assemble words in order to ask such questions, it by no means, means, that the question itself is valid.

To ask "why" demands purpose and intent, these are qualities of agency. So to ask "why" is there something rather than nothing is to assume a certain a priori reasoning of agency.

Before such questions are asked it stands to reason that first one is required to establish wether or not this is the correct sort of question to ask. In other words is the why question directed towards a who? How can it be established what the who is?

Such arbitrary questions deserve to be answered with the same vagueness, because if there wasn't we wouldn't be here to ask such questions
This cocky little cognitive contortionist will straighten you right out

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Re: Why is there anything at all and rather not nothing

Post by Tamminen » August 18th, 2018, 8:03 am

Consul wrote:
August 17th, 2018, 9:52 pm
Being is and nonbeing cannot be, so being must be. Simple as that!
Yes. Tautologies can be ontologically informative, answering existential questions like: "Why do we have to be here?"

But I understand Hereandnow's point.

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Re: Why is there anything at all and rather not nothing

Post by Hereandnow » August 18th, 2018, 5:04 pm

Greta:
I dispute that hominid emotions are more important or relevant than than "dumb stuff" like the cosmos in this question. Really? Yes, life is in a sense a journey of learning how to reduce the suffering inherent to it, but it's only a part of a larger scenario.

The universe is far from an abstraction but what we ARE - and we might remember that if we were less anthropocentric.
I admit that talk about being is a lot like talking about stuff. Stuff is conceptually amorphous, presumably infinite and all inclusive.

But to talk about the universe from a perspective other than our anthropomorphic one doesn't reduce the universe to what is not us. If you take the view that we are localized parts of the universe, it still remains that in order to explain the universe one still has to account for what it does in this particular locality, not unlike having to explain the volatility of nitro glycerin to give a full account of what it is. And if it turned out that if left in a chemist's tube overnight the nitro began forming colonies of beings that would invent language and struggle to live and die, this would be a feature of nitro that would not only call for revisions in its conception, but would be miraculous. The Being, if you will, of the nitro would take on the Beings it produced and all they did: their spirituality, cognition and so on.
The point is that human presence in Being anthropomorphizes Being, makes it so to explain Being their must be an explanation of us, and that explanation is not just a token of inclusion: it redefines what Being is in a radical way, for stuff/being is denotatively neutral, featureless in that its possibilities are merely formal, quantitative. To explain the anthropomorphic dimension of stuff constitutes a qualitative reconception: stuff is now ethics, aesthetics; it is the tragedy and the ecstasy of being human.
In my thinking, that the universe up and turned into ethics tells us there's a LOT about the universe we don't understand. After all, philosophy IS the universe thinking about itself (Hegel leans this way).

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Re: Why is there anything at all and rather not nothing

Post by Greta » August 18th, 2018, 6:19 pm

Hereandnow wrote:
August 18th, 2018, 5:04 pm
Greta:
I dispute that hominid emotions are more important or relevant than than "dumb stuff" like the cosmos in this question. Really? Yes, life is in a sense a journey of learning how to reduce the suffering inherent to it, but it's only a part of a larger scenario.

The universe is far from an abstraction but what we ARE - and we might remember that if we were less anthropocentric.
I admit that talk about being is a lot like talking about stuff. Stuff is conceptually amorphous, presumably infinite and all inclusive.

But to talk about the universe from a perspective other than our anthropomorphic one doesn't reduce the universe to what is not us. If you take the view that we are localized parts of the universe, it still remains that in order to explain the universe one still has to account for what it does in this particular locality, not unlike having to explain the volatility of nitro glycerin to give a full account of what it is.

And if it turned out that if left in a chemist's tube overnight the nitro began forming colonies of beings that would invent language and struggle to live and die, this would be a feature of nitro that would not only call for revisions in its conception, but would be miraculous. The Being, if you will, of the nitro would take on the Beings it produced and all they did: their spirituality, cognition and so on.

The point is that human presence in Being anthropomorphizes Being, makes it so to explain Being their must be an explanation of us, and that explanation is not just a token of inclusion: it redefines what Being is in a radical way, for stuff/being is denotatively neutral, featureless in that its possibilities are merely formal, quantitative. To explain the anthropomorphic dimension of stuff constitutes a qualitative reconception: stuff is now ethics, aesthetics; it is the tragedy and the ecstasy of being human.

In my thinking, that the universe up and turned into ethics tells us there's a LOT about the universe we don't understand. After all, philosophy IS the universe thinking about itself (Hegel leans this way).
If human presence anthropomorphises being then the dinosaurs dinomorphised being, and being was trilobitomorphised before the Permian extinction event.

That leaves a case for reality to be largely black hole-ised and stellamorphised? Black holes and stars seem a lot more prevalent in the universe, and are rather more impressive on a number of measures. In fact, even thinking of ourselves as parts of the universe semantically overrates us because we (the Earth) are are simply debris of our star's ignition and we relative Flatlanders on our globe's smooth surface. Just that we process chemicals and information, stars process energy and create information, and black holes absorb it all.

What is the difference between what minds do and what black holes do? Each draws in maximal amounts of stuff from all angles and slowly releases a heavily filtered and reduced residue - be it animal responses or Hawking radiation. All things are processing to some extent but only some processing results in a sense of being.

Yet how important is a sense of being? Our finest moments, both functionally and emotionally, are almost always when we most forget ourselves, essentially becoming automatons. Being "in the zone" is essentially allowing oneself to be a human automaton, trusting in prior conditioning. This sense of being might just be a phase of existence, a path between states, a means of conditioning oneself until more effective collectivist means emerge.

A sense of being may yet be largely abandoned, or at least greatly diminished, by advanced life in the future. They may choose to escape from the inherent suffering of existence and live almost perennially "in the zone".

Humans today may look upon such a future as lacking "soul" but the same opinions would have been held by indigenous people overrun by more advanced Europeans and Asians, and I expect other species would have felt that humans were unpleasant things when they were taking over ever more lands. Meanwhile, plants can't think but their responses to animal usurpers include spikes, toxicity, snares, stickiness, bitterness and hard pods.

Every species and every subgroup thinks they are the essence of all things and tends to objectify everything and everyone else as essentially props and characters in their particular dramas.

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Re: Why is there anything at all and rather not nothing

Post by CIN » August 19th, 2018, 5:36 am

Q: Why is there something rather than nothing? A: Because the Big Bang occurred.

Q: Why did the Big Bang occur? A: We don't (yet) know.

End of. (At least for the time being.)

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Re: Why is there anything at all and rather not nothing

Post by Greta » August 19th, 2018, 5:20 pm

CIN wrote:
August 19th, 2018, 5:36 am
Q: Why is there something rather than nothing? A: Because the Big Bang occurred.

Q: Why did the Big Bang occur? A: We don't (yet) know.

End of. (At least for the time being.)
Nope. That assumes that the BB occurred in "nothing", which doesn't even make sense.

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Re: Why is there anything at all and rather not nothing

Post by Hereandnow » August 19th, 2018, 10:15 pm

Greta:
If human presence anthropomorphises being then the dinosaurs dinomorphised being, and being was trilobitomorphised before the Permian extinction event.
In the episodic world of a particular dinosaur, certainly, being is dinosaurized. Odd way to put it, but there was being, being a dinosaur.

That leaves a case for reality to be largely black hole-ised and stellamorphised? Black holes and stars seem a lot more prevalent in the universe, and are rather more impressive on a number of measures. In fact, even thinking of ourselves as parts of the universe semantically overrates us because we (the Earth) are are simply debris of our star's ignition and we relative Flatlanders on our globe's smooth surface. Just that we process chemicals and information, stars process energy and create information, and black holes absorb it all.
No problem with a black hole-ised universe, or being, or reality.
What is the difference between what minds do and what black holes do? Each draws in maximal amounts of stuff from all angles and slowly releases a heavily filtered and reduced residue - be it animal responses or Hawking radiation. All things are processing to some extent but only some processing results in a sense of being.
black holes were conceived in minds. But putting that kind thing aside, if it were that a mind was simply a machine that organized and solved problems, I would yield to your point: all would be equally meaningless, just sitting there in greater or lesser complexity, hanging around other things. The sense of being would be like the register on a gauge, the needle rising here, falling there. But this is not the world. It is an abstraction founded on an observational bias.
Yet how important is a sense of being? Our finest moments, both functionally and emotionally, are almost always when we most forget ourselves, essentially becoming automatons. Being "in the zone" is essentially allowing oneself to be a human automaton, trusting in prior conditioning. This sense of being might just be a phase of existence, a path between states, a means of conditioning oneself until more effective collectivist means emerge.
I am aware of the zone, and it is an exceptional state of mind. I play piano, and there is no room for second guessing, which is what one needs to do a lot of to encourage a sense of being. This is what philosophy does, if done well: eventually knowledge claims fall away, and being looms large, This is not witnessed by everyone. Oh well.

A sense of being may yet be largely abandoned, or at least greatly diminished, by advanced life in the future. They may choose to escape from the inherent suffering of existence and live almost perennially "in the zone".
Not likely, nor desirable. A sense of being rises out of inquiry's work in the world and wishing it would fade away is like wishing self awareness away. Self awareness is what cows and dogs don't have.
But there is a kind of apophatic process whereby through inquiry's negation of the object put before it to discover some more authentic understanding, paradigms shift until there is the revelation that no foundation is forthcoming. Philosophy has reached this climax, which is why postmodern thinking is looks to Nietzsche's perspectivalism with such relish. These philosophers do not take up with Jaspers. I do, because being here is something deeply profound.
Humans today may look upon such a future as lacking "soul" but the same opinions would have been held by indigenous people overrun by more advanced Europeans and Asians, and I expect other species would have felt that humans were unpleasant things when they were taking over ever more lands. Meanwhile, plants can't think but their responses to animal usurpers include spikes, toxicity, snares, stickiness, bitterness and hard pods.
The notion of a soul here is confused by talk about the stupid and cruel things people do. The latter does not cancel the former. 'Soul' is such an overused term, it's best to steer clear, and let the world be as interpretatively liberated as possible.
Every species and every subgroup thinks they are the essence of all things and tends to objectify everything and everyone else as essentially props and characters in their particular dramas.
Right. And this is what happens when we live a narrative, a pragmatic narrative. That is what it is to have a personality in the world and live it out as if it were Real. I did this for many years, like everyone else. But to do this you have to ignore basic questions.

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Re: Why is there anything at all and rather not nothing

Post by Greta » August 20th, 2018, 12:44 am

Hereandnow wrote:
August 19th, 2018, 10:15 pm
Greta:
If human presence anthropomorphises being then the dinosaurs dinomorphised being, and being was trilobitomorphised before the Permian extinction event.
In the episodic world of a particular dinosaur, certainly, being is dinosaurized. Odd way to put it, but there was being, being a dinosaur.
Then anthropomorphising is inappropriate, being essentially the positing of transient qualities as fundamental. Humanness is clearly just a phase to be superseded like everything else. We rhapsodise and lionise humanness because we are human; or we did until recent years when ignorance made a comeback.
Hereandnow wrote:
What is the difference between what minds do and what black holes do? Each draws in maximal amounts of stuff from all angles and slowly releases a heavily filtered and reduced residue - be it animal responses or Hawking radiation. All things are processing to some extent but only some processing results in a sense of being.
black holes were conceived in minds. But putting that kind thing aside, if it were that a mind was simply a machine that organized and solved problems, I would yield to your point: all would be equally meaningless, just sitting there in greater or lesser complexity, hanging around other things. The sense of being would be like the register on a gauge, the needle rising here, falling there. But this is not the world. It is an abstraction founded on an observational bias.
"Machine" is just an analogy and does not give credit to the reality creating and transforming qualities of black holes. It's like describing the Sun as a "ball of gas". No, it's not any kind of ball but a monstrously huge area of extreme concentration within largely sparse space, and we are its mere debris. A black hole is not a machine but a piece of reality that consumes its environment and very slowly radiates it back out or periodically blasts it out.

My point being again that we overestimate ourselves and underestimate everything else, and that includes the sense of being.
Hereandnow wrote:
Yet how important is a sense of being? Our finest moments, both functionally and emotionally, are almost always when we most forget ourselves, essentially becoming automatons. Being "in the zone" is essentially allowing oneself to be a human automaton, trusting in prior conditioning. This sense of being might just be a phase of existence, a path between states, a means of conditioning oneself until more effective collectivist means emerge.
I am aware of the zone, and it is an exceptional state of mind. I play piano, and there is no room for second guessing, which is what one needs to do a lot of to encourage a sense of being. This is what philosophy does, if done well: eventually knowledge claims fall away, and being looms large, This is not witnessed by everyone. Oh well.
Of course ideally one learns enough and experiences enough to get a feel for what's going on (in music or in life), and this is the case in all fields that require real time performance - learn the theory until it's so ingrained that you can forget it during performance.

Yet, we most eloquently express ourselves when we forget ourselves, with any instance of self consciousness only adding awkwardness. So this advance in awareness - basically an extra feedback loop - of humans has proved useful. However, the future of moving off-world is unlikely to favour the humanly conscious, with long periods of inactivity in space and conditions that consistently challenge biology.

I do think that extra feedback loop adult humans have - the capacity to control the way we condition ourselves - is a fine and valuable thing, but it's terribly overrated as compared with other species, so often being posited as the pinnacle of being when it's just one phase. In the far future, what may be thought of as "aware" may be vastly different to our self assessments, largely limited as we are into the perspective of one set of senses in one place and time.
Hereandnow wrote:
A sense of being may yet be largely abandoned, or at least greatly diminished, by advanced life in the future. They may choose to escape from the inherent suffering of existence and live almost perennially "in the zone".
Not likely, nor desirable. A sense of being rises out of inquiry's work in the world and wishing it would fade away is like wishing self awareness away. Self awareness is what cows and dogs don't have.
But there is a kind of apophatic process whereby through inquiry's negation of the object put before it to discover some more authentic understanding, paradigms shift until there is the revelation that no foundation is forthcoming. Philosophy has reached this climax, which is why postmodern thinking is looks to Nietzsche's perspectivalism with such relish. These philosophers do not take up with Jaspers. I do, because being here is something deeply profound.
Hmm, I don't know. After all, we don't live with nearly the visceral intensity that we did as children. We increasingly replaced sensation with knowledge. As knowledge requirements become ever greater (just to survive in society) sensitivity reduces as the complexity of what we juggle increases, demanding ever more of our attention.

It may be that the ancients too lived more vividly intense lives than we do, and other species probably lived even more intensely again. So this vivid sense of being, if anything, is being dulled and that happens with age too. That's the trend. You could say that our minds are becoming increasingly more for processing and less for feeling over time. Maybe feeling is cyclical, waxing and waning though different phases of evolution, and there will be a new phase and resurgence of emotion and sensation?
Hereandnow wrote:
Humans today may look upon such a future as lacking "soul" but the same opinions would have been held by indigenous people overrun by more advanced Europeans and Asians, and I expect other species would have felt that humans were unpleasant things when they were taking over ever more lands. Meanwhile, plants can't think but their responses to animal usurpers include spikes, toxicity, snares, stickiness, bitterness and hard pods.
The notion of a soul here is confused by talk about the stupid and cruel things people do. The latter does not cancel the former. 'Soul' is such an overused term, it's best to steer clear, and let the world be as interpretatively liberated as possible.
I was just using shorthand for concepts related to what I described above. Instead of "lacking soul", since you find that term distracting, think of it as "lacking sensitivity and a sense of harmony with surroundings".
Hereandnow wrote:
Every species and every subgroup thinks they are the essence of all things and tends to objectify everything and everyone else as essentially props and characters in their particular dramas.
Right. And this is what happens when we live a narrative, a pragmatic narrative. That is what it is to have a personality in the world and live it out as if it were Real. I did this for many years, like everyone else. But to do this you have to ignore basic questions.
To some extent this is simply maturing - what you once thought important you see as ephemeral games of life, to be played out over and over by interchangeable actors. Games that were played long before we were born and will continue unabated after we're gone. So your attention shifts to noticing and appreciating the simple things in life ignored while trying to be efficient.

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