Plato was an advocate and a pioneer in the field of knowledge, truth and belief. The three pillar dimensional structure is associated with a close correlation. The tripartite theory, introduced by Plato himself can help us understand this three dimensional core. The theory explains the three precedent concepts. A person can not have knowledge in a sense where he knows something, if he initially doesn’t believe it to be true. If knowledge is false, if it is not true, it can not be processed under the form of knowledge. For you to know that something is true, you need to believe it to be true. False knowledge is empty knowledge. For knowledge to not be erroneous, it has to be associated with truth. If you know something, then by default, at least on an individual level, it should be true. However, there is one last factor involved in the equation. Justification is needed for knowledge to become true. Let’s take an example.
You are meeting a friend that you haven’t seen in a while. From a distance, you glimpse the back of a person who you believe is your friend. You run up to him, only to notice that you mistakenly perceived him as your friend when in reality it was a stranger. You knew something to be true at first, however, it was later on proved to wrong. This perceptual delinquency was not justified by truth, and therefore the knowledge itself was erroneous, and it can not be considered as knowledge anymore.
A minute later, you notice another person walking towards you. You walk up to him, and it was indeed your friend. When you saw him walking from a distance, you knew it was your friend. You believed it to be true. It was later on justified with truth, adding to it the justification that the person was undoubtedly your friend. However, this theory had a contradictory approach. Edmund Gettier, an American Philosopher is the founding father of this opposing theorem. Justification in the present can be different than the justification in the the imminent reasoning. Once truth, belief and justification are correlated, knowledge is formed. In a scenario where the justification was later on proved to be wrong, the knowledge you had in the past was spurious. If the justification was false, then the truth doesn’t satisfy the veracity factor. If so, the belief was astray. The No False Belief theory states that A concrete and solid belief can not by any means be based on an inaccurate conviction. The Causal Connection Condition which states that there has to be a correlation between knowledge itself, and belief. Finally the Defeasibility Theory which states that a belief is known to be true is there are no present contradictory elements.
Plato’s approach can be ameliorated through the recognition of these previous theories. However, the opposing work of Gettier put a huge question mark on our true understanding of knowledge.
By the dint of consequentialism, we can introduce a different logical approach to morality. A moral action is one that produces the best accumulative result. When an act is associated with more atrocious than beneficial results, in opposed to another act that consequentially had further virtuous results, then acting upon the former would be considered as the an inferior moral related act than the latter.
Results determine whether an act was morally right or wrong. The more positive the consequences are, the better the action, by nature, is. Going back to our tripartite theory, another contradiction can arise. If the act was falsely considered as the choice producing the best positive outcome, only to later on, be associated with greater negative consequences, would the action still be considered as the prime moral approach to the situation?
The Trolley problem highly emphasizes the concepts of morality and consequentialism. A trolley has lost control of its brakes on a railway. Standing from a distance, you notice the out of control trolley heading towards five workmen standing on the trail. Next to you is a lever that can shift the direction of the trolley. However, on the adjacent track is another workman. If the trolley was to keep going on the same track, five people will die, if you pull the lever, only one person would die. In this scenario, what is the optimum moral action to take?
Adding on to that, despite the complexity of the answer, it can get even more complicated. If you notice that the individual person on the adjacent track is your father, who you love and cherish, what should you do then? In terms of consequences, personally, losing your father would have further negative implications and consequences on you. That puts another question mark upon the idea of morality. Having different facets, moral actions are highly individual, yet collective, which makes it all the more arduous.
In this very moment, the only thing that exists is the now. The past is irreversible and therefore out of reach. The future is oddly controllable yet out of reach.
What is an illusion? It is simply seeing something that isn’t really there, that isn’t necessarily real. Your past is an illusion as it can only be reached by forming vivid or in some cases complex images in your brain. The past is no longer here, it is no longer reachable, and therefore it is an illusion. People think their past is real, and how can it not be? Why do atheists not believe in god? Why is he an illusion for them? It is simply because there are no tangible or intangible perceivable elements that stand as a proof for existence. Similarly, there is no perceivable elements that proves the existence of the past. It is simply an illusion, that we created, to differentiate between what is now, what is real, what is beyond the scope of reality, and what is yet to be our reality.
The future, is also an illusion. Simply, the future is something that did not happen yet, something that is yet to happen and doesn’t exist until there is a chronological coherence between the situation and reality. Once the future becomes real, it ceases to be the future, and becomes the present, becomes reality, becomes our now. Every single second, reality is changing, and the first step to understand yourself is to understand the following. Reality is shaped by the conceptualized illusion of your future, and the pre-existent non-reachable illusion of your past. To understand who you are presently, you need to understand who you were, and who you are meant to be.
Your past and your future are interchangeably creating your present. You, reading this book can be a good example. In this moment, you are able to read this phrase, because in the past, you bought the book, and the moment that formed your reality in this past chronological phase, was shaped by the yet-to-exist scenario where you actually read the book, and here you are, the result of parallel and correlated illusions. Our reality, aka our present, is the intersection between our past existence, and our future existence. However, in order for you to understand what was said previously, you need to make sure that you understand that there’s a difference between existence and reality. Reality is something that you can perceive at any moment. Existence sometimes can’t be perceived. The past exists, but it isn’t reality anymore, reality is the now.
Another concept that correlates with the illusion of time, is whether we control our future or not. Sure, you can decide right now that you want to drink water and then when you do, you basically created your future through your present. But what about other cases where a person has an accident? It is called accident . Tracing back this word to its Latin origin, it can mean misfortune, it can mean a chance or an occurrence.
This one question, do we create our future, changed my entire perspective on existentialism. People look for a meaning in life, whether it’s something they are meant to do, or live, or experience. It is a reason that explains why they exist among other human beings in any given society. While looking for the meaning behind our existence, we do so to reflect on our present and our future in an action oriented matter following a meaning related course of action. Going back to the question as to whether we create our future or not, there is one very interesting apprehensive conceptualization that can answer the question. We do indeed control our future. When you were driving and you got into a car accident, it was you who created your future. Even if it was the other vehicles mistake, you deciding to drive, at the very moment, you positioning your vehicle in a certain spot, you took those decisions, nobody imposed them on you, even if you have obligations, you are never deprived of the free will to let go of these obligations barring in mind the consequences.
Future is highly individualist. Yet it is collective. Someone else’s future can effect yours. When your co-worker got a promotion over you, his future and your future had an interception, you were both planning on taking the position, but sadly it wasn’t you. When your lover breaks up with you, whilst you imagined living the rest of your life with her/him, it shows that her future effected yours. When you were a baby, you did not have control over your future, I mean how could you? If your parents moved into a new house when you were 6 months old, you had no control over that. However, when you were hungry, by the natural process of our instinctive survival mechanism, you would start crying until you get fed. In this case, you did control your future, on a non cognitive but instinctive level. In both cases, you still did. Tracing this back to individualism and collectivism, you can, to a major extent, control your individualistic future. However once your future intercepts with another individualistic future, you create a third intangible collective future, made out of the consolidation of both cognitive functions and aspirations of the group of individuals.
Pastness, presentness and futurity were the topic of discussion of many contemporary philosophers. John McTaggart introduced the A-series and the B-series to try to answer the chronological existential question. The A-series expresses a timely position. Pastness, presentness and futurity when linked to an event, object, or action can be positioned chronologically. Past events already happened. Present events are currently happening, and future events are to eventually happen. Was, is, and will be. Every event occupies the three different positions. An event that already occurred, and is now in the past, was once in the present, and furthermore, was once in the future. An event that is currently happened was positioned in the future, it is now present, and it will be in the past. A future event, will eventually happen in the now, and as its done, it’ll be in our past. No event can occupy a timely position forever, and conversely no event can be a combination of different chronological positions.
When we talked about the sole existence of the present moment, we were referring to the Presentism theory, where nothing exists out of the now. An event that occurred in the past, is according to the A-series positioning is now in the past and it does not exist in our current reality state. An event that’s in the future is also an event that doesn’t exist at our current reality state, from which derived the presentism theory.
Then came Einstein with the theory of relativity. This theory discusses primarily, in correlation with our topic of discussion, the existence of inertial frames of reference. Time is highly individual when we link it to an inertial frame. A present event relative to a specific frame, can be a past event relative to another frame. It can also be a future event, relative to yet, another inertial frame. According to one frame of reference, a single exist, can surprisingly, exist, and not exist at the same time.
A-theorists argued in an reconciliation attempt to further expand upon the special theory of relativity. In a nutshell, the argument that unfolded shed the light on another important idea. Two events observed simultaneously, is a different concept than two events taking place simultaneously. Time is highly perceptional and highly individualistic.
Take a moment to think about what you just read, as things will get more fairly more interesting. What is reality?
A study in neurology and psychology showed a positive and direct correlation between imagination and reality. Imagination can have an influence on your reality, knowing, on a conscious level that it is just your imagination in effect. Jealousy can stand as a solid example. When we assume that our significant other is more interested in another person we often develop a sense of jealousy. However, was there anything real to be jealous about? Or was it just a friction of your imagination? We get jealous as a cognitive entity in a sense of emotional disruption filled with feelings such as fear and anxiety tied to abandonment, it can be tied to feelings of potential humiliation and failure, and typically, if the issue is recurrent it can develop into violence and rage. We get jealous by the idea that our significant other is interested in someone else when this was never explicitly said. It is an assumption, a self reflecting influence of our perception lead by our past experiences and our prediction of potential outcomes which is nothing more than our imagination. You can never imagine something that you haven’t perceived. For instance, try to imagine a colour that you’ve never seen before. No matter how hard you try, it is impossible.
Jealousy, can of course be based on real perception. Seeing your significant other flirting with another person is one form of it. But, sinking deep into thought with no real perceived basis is strictly your imagination controlling your reality. Through your imagination, you altered your cognitive and physical state.
You might’ve heard of the Placebo Effect. A person convinced that he is being given a certain medical treatment, such as a pill every morning, can alter his physical and/or cognitive state, keeping in mind that the pill might have absolutely no effect on the targeted condition that the individual is suffering from.
Plato also emphasized this concept beautifully with the Allegory Of The Cave. In one of his most recognized texts, The Republic, Plato demonstrates how our perception can exist with absolute disconnection linked to the existence of Forms. Through his analogy, we will be able to see that our perception is just an opinion, but not necessarily reality.
A group of prisoners, since birth, were locked up in a cave-like prison. The prisoners can not move, they can not turn around as there are chains locked up onto their neck and their legs. All what they can see is what is laying in front of them, which is a flat, stone wall. Located behind them, and above them is a fire, and in between rests a low wall where people walk carrying certain objects on their heads. The only thing they can see, are shadows, the only thing they can hear are echoes. Shadows are all they know, they perceive them as being real, and perceive the echo as an auditory perception linked to the shadows. If we were to tell them that those shadows are people, they will perceive the shadows as being real and not a mere reflection caused by the intersection of light and objects. One day, a person is set free and is forced to get out of the cave keeping in mind that from a psychological stand point he will be facing many unpleasant cognitive and emotional responses. Being exposed to the world, he comes to understand after a while, that the cave was a mere misperception of reality. This prisoner returns to the cave to free his fellow prisoners from the misperception they were stuck in. He thinks of himself as a saviour, a liberator offering salvation. As he explains, the prisoners will not look at him as a liberator, but a ludicrous, delusional person, and they will not believe a word he says, because their perception of what’s real, no longer aligns with his.