It’s often amusing when a character in a story questions the very reality of the world in which they live. Sometimes you are not able to tell whether or not the writer of the script intentionally made a reference to themselves when their character alludes to the fact that they were created. I’m not certain whether or not I had this in mind when I wrote the following paragraph in “Freedom to Die,” but it does add an extra layer of complexity (and amusement, at least to me) to it.
“Mortus clearly understood where data ended and hypotheses began. Life couldn’t be lived without relying on hypotheses: the hypothesis that because one could perceive, what one was perceiving is real and applicable; the hypothesis that because one lived, life was worth living; the hypothesis that since one gathered data using reason and logic, one should continue to do so; the hypothesis that data gathered in the past should stay constant enough that it could be trusted in the future; the hypothesis that a relatively absolute truth was obtainable and should be striven for.”
If you didn’t get what I was trying to get across with this paragraph, don’t worry, you’re not alone. There were times when I was reading over this myself and thought, “well, I’m sure it made sense to me while I was writing it.”
Mortus understood that absolute knowledge is impossible to obtain, thus the repeatedly used word “hypothesis” throughout the paragraph.
To make things easier to explain, let me use an example. Complete the pattern for me: 1,2,1,2,1,? The reasonable answer, of course, is “2,” but that is only because of the information given you. If I had instead given you: 3,3,3,1,2,1,2,1,? The answer would be less simple. Perhaps the answer would be “3” instead of “2,” but then again, perhaps the answer would be something completely different.
Compare the knowledge you have of the rest of life to the pattern example. What you see as “logic,” you see as a continuation of a pattern. Since something has always been a way in your mind, so it will always be. “The hypothesis that data gathered in the past should stay constant enough that it could be trusted in the future.” However, since you weren’t always around, you do not know what was in the past. Sure, you could trace the pattern back to formulate a picture of the past, but you’re putting your faith in the pattern. For all you know, there could be a few 3’s hidden before the 1’s and 2’s that you see.
All you can do is make the most logical choice given the information provided, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
“The hypothesis that a relatively absolute truth was obtainable and should be striven for.” This is an absolutely essential hypothesis. For if we don’t live under the assumption that an absolute truth exists, we have no right to tell someone they are right or wrong. Things like justice and morality would have no inherent value. If that were the case, we would be locking up people in jail not because they’re wrong or evil, but because their lifestyles were an inconvenient fit with the lifestyles of the majority.
So we have things like science and math around to qualify and quantify what we see, because it only makes sense to live under the assumption that it’s worth learning things. “The hypothesis that since one gathered data using reason and logic, one should continue to do so.” Yet, for some reason, people use this hypothesis for some things, and not everything. For example, in the area of religion, people think that since the concept of God or gods is so much separated from them, they aren’t able to use the same logic we use for everything else to apply to it; since the supernatural can’t be studied by natural means, it must therefore mean unnatural means must be used to study it. That of course is a ridiculous assumption. When one stops using logic to define the metaphysical, one can’t be sure that they are doing the logical thing to do so (no one can be “absolutely sure” of anything when there are no absolutes). Just because the spiritual world exists in dimensions outside of the ones we are accustomed to perceiving, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t also exist in a realm that we can perceive. We can learn about how something works in our own dimension, even if we are unable to understand the fullness of its existence in all dimensions.
I personally believed that “a relatively absolute truth” is “obtainable and should be striven for,” especially because of, an in the case of the supernatural. “The hypothesis that because one lived, life was worth living.” If one couldn’t know what was real or true, what would be the point of our existence? Living just to live seems quite redundant to me.
“The hypothesis that because one could perceive, what one was perceiving is real and applicable.” It’s amusing that Vance Mortus would have this philosophy, being that he is, in fact, not real in the same sense that you or I are real. He is my fictional creation.
As much as it doesn’t make sense not to live like what we are perceiving is real, it can be fun to contemplate what would be real if we were not. You may have heard the famous line by the Chinese philosopher Zhuangzi who, after having a very realistic dream about being a butterfly, stated, “now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man.”
A more modern concept of the idea is that we are all in the matrix, a virtual world created by robots in order to keep us imprisoned and pacified.
I’m sure there is an endless list of imaginative stories of ways of how what we see is merely fiction. However, the point of this exploration of the topic wasn’t to show that “nothing is real,” but that “since we see things as real, we must make the most logical decisions in our day to day life, in regards to both our physical and spiritual lives.” That’s my hypothesis.