Acceptance Finally

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Does reality really matter anymore? I may have covered this somewhat already. Well, I’ll go over it again.

There’s been a long battle for centuries about the foundation of all knowledge. There are rationalists who believe we learn everything through reason. Then there are the empiricists who think every byte of brain power is by experience. It’s like the epic philosophical rivalry. Think Yankees v. Red Sox, Soviets v. Americans, Archie v. Reggie.

In the rationalist corner: Kant and Descarte, etc. In the empiricist corner: Locke and Hobbes, etc. Many philosophers who never had a dog in the hunt are often classified as one or the other.

I’ve struggled with it most of my life. I’m not really sure where I fall though I’ve always leaned more towards the rationalists. In my mind, the idea of all knowledge based on my senses makes me feel more like a hybrid ape than a human being. (Who knows, maybe at the end of the day that’s all we really are)

Empiricists argue that we all learn first from touching, tasting, hearing, smelling and seeing. Then at some point reason comes along and processes those sensations. Seems reasonable to me. How can you define a pure idea without any kind of empirical knowledge to back it up?

But then rationalists argue that all sensations are first processed by the reason filter. Which I take to mean, reason is there first. Your senses can deceive you. You can see a watery-looking image on the horizon on a hot day. But your reasoning capabilities helps you understand it’s a mirage.

Yeah, I’m going with the rationalist camp here. There really is no such thing as reality anymore is there? Maybe it was never really there. At the end of the day, we can’t really prove anything about what we perceive. Because it’s all perception, that pretty much belies empiricism doesn’t it?

A schizophrenic has all kinds of perceptions. What’s real to them? Is reality to a schizophrenic patient the reality we tell them after they take medication?

And if that’s the case, what’s real to us? This quickly devolves into that childish notion that we are all really living in our own play, with everyone around us merely being characters.

The true test for any reality is a result, I think. We can choose to believe perceptions that global warming isn’t real. But that’s not really going to stop global warming is it? It’s very much a tree-falling-in-the-forest-without-a-sound kind of thing.

Well, if that tree falls on your head and kills you, then the whole reality vs. perception thing doesn’t really matter anymore does it? The dead don’t perceive.

I say reality doesn’t matter anymore because it seems that people have given up trying to discover the truth of things, whether it’s politics, religion, science, etc. Every day we can log onto Web pages and read the things we like read. We can watch TV and listen only to the voices we agree with. It seems to me we have all withdrawn inside ourselves and in that case, perception is all we really know.

There is no such thing as reality.

And I think I hear the sound of a tree falling.

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Entertain Me

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I love baseball. But to a point.

I’ll usually watch the first two games of the season. Maybe I’ll sit through a Saturday game here and there. And I catch some of the World Series. I’ll watch enraptured if the Yankees are in it. I hate them and enjoy seeing them lose.

When I was a kid I played Little League and then pitched out of the bullpen for my private high school. A middle reliever I liked to call myself. Actually I sat on the bench most games. I only got called in when there was little chance we’d win. The coach just didn’t want to lose by a fat margin.

Sitting through the game tonight, I also thought about the election. There’s a neck-and-neck race for the White House and here a good portion of Americans are watching a bunch of grown man slapping a ball around with a wooden stick.

It’s entertaining though.

As I get older, I am beginning to see that things like the World Series, Superbowl, American Idol, Jersey Shore and Mario Brothers really are affecting our productivity a lot more than we can tell. Hell the Internet has wasted so much of my life that if I’d invested it into writing, I would have authored a novel collection to rival Stephen King.

Marcuse. Postman. They’re right. We focus so much on mass culture that we lose sight of what’s wrong in this world. If we focused less on amusement and paid attention to poverty, politics, social reform and civil rights, things would likely be better. The Internet was created to increase communication among educators but it has since only served to be another source of distraction.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my baseball. Those memes can be funny. Bloggers do have good points once in awhile. But there’s always a nagging thought in a corner of my collective subconscious that something’s wrong with how much time we waste on unproductive culture.

Some historians argue that the beginning of the end for the Roman empire began with a rising number of colosseum games. They spent more days out of the year watching gladiators cleave appendages off each other than they did working. We need to pay attention to that, especially now that we’re in the days of cable TV, the Web and professional sports.

Our lifestyles have become unsustainable and we’re taking more from the world than it can give. It’s creating problems with people in other countries. Civil wars. Somali Pirates. Starvation. Energy shortages. It’s only going to get worse.

This is going to bite our collective asses if we don’t turn off the game once in awhile.