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Necessary Amnesia
March 2, 2018
by J.A. Young
Understanding what consciousness is, and the way that we as “intelligent” beings perceive our world is simply the most damning intellectual pursuit available to us as human beings. It is a yearning that lies deep within even the most callow and insincere among us.  Philosophers and cretins alike are at the mercy of our unanimous inability to look around and intrinsically apprehend what it is that we are.  This species-defining introspective journey for knowledge about ourselves exists at the intersection of our most important fields of inquiry. 


It is a ponderous desire that bridges between all of our great disciplines; mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, philosophy, theology, etc.  We can hypothesize the way that brain chemistry and neural architecture function to create the way we think and interpret the world around us.  We are able to determine the myriad of chemicals that course through our veins and arteries depending on whether or not we feel happy, frightened, or morose.  Philosophy allows us to perform hopefully objective thought experiments and to develop ideology about the way our own brains analyze and decipher the world that exists both around us and within us.   Understanding the minute interactions between atoms and their constituent pieces allows us to speculate on how our own macroscopic world functions.


These are interpretations and perspectives that cannot be consciously accounted for as a result of our own human perspectives.  We know as scientists and mathematicians that there is a world around us that is terrifyingly alien and uncompromisingly strange.  For example, beams of light function concomitantly as both particles and as waves.  Nearly all of the energy and matter in the universe is of a form that is completely undetectable and indescribable by science.  Quantum particles behave differently depending on whether or not they are being directly observed.   In the words of J.B Haldane, “Now my own suspicion is that the Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.”  


Despite our best efforts and our most high-minded desires, the world around us is in many ways more awe-inspiring than it was during the time of our first ancestors.  In many ways it seems as though the more we know about the world around us, the less we know about the one inside us.  Indisputable facts of human knowledge are in no way easily mixed with our human consciousness, and in many ways they are directly contradictory to it.  We can say unequivocally that the universe around us is 14.6 billion years old, and is constantly expanding at an increasing rate.  These are observable, justifiable, reviewable axioms of our human knowledge.  But they are not concepts and ideas that sincerely inhabit us.  They have not taken hold of our overarching perception.  


Culturally it is has become beneficial for most of us to develop a conscious shield against much of our knowledge, like a kind of necessary amnesia.  Many of the most important pieces of information that we carry within us as humans have become abeyances, stuck in a sort of limbo or state of willful disuse.  We know without any doubt that the universe contains on the order of billions of other planets and star systems in addition to earth.  We know that there is a person somewhere on our own planet dying of thirst, or being savagely raped, or siphoning money from honest people.  These are not debatable interpretations, they are verifiable realities.  And yet they do not seem to affect us in any lasting, measurable way.


All too often it is impossible for us to conceptualize the totality of these facts and pieces of knowledge at a synchronic point of thinking.  This unfortunate hindrance mitigates the truth and honesty that we as intelligent beings are able to glean from the world around us.


We revel in forgetting things whether or not they are perceived as good or bad, because they complicate our view, they can fog up the lens with which we see the world.  We cannot process the totality of information that results from knowing that violent massacres occur all over the world with a huge degree of frequency, and that neutrinos constantly pass through our body uninhibited at hundreds of kilometers per second.  We have the ability as humans to distinguish these facts from one another, and apply labels like good, bad, interesting, and off-putting.


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