Kick a stone


Bishop Berkeley, the Irish philosopher and Anglican bishop who opposed the materialism of Thomas Hobbes and who believed that all material objects as well and time and space were an illusion strongly criticized Newton for his irrational conviction concerning an absolute space disagreeing with his conviction of an absolute God. When the famous philosopher Dr. Johnson was informed about Berkeley's opinion, he said: "Thus I confute it!" and kicked a large stone.The reaction of the stone however is not narrated in the account; nor the kicked stone was "der Grosse Schweiger".1 We might, no doubt, easily try the experiment and have our more or less painful subjective sensation concerning reality. Sure enough, subjective, because even if there are points in common in stones as well as in our perception of reality, each individual has a unique experience of the latter and this depends, not very hard to guess, on how his brain perceives and reacts to the event.

Clearly, for a dead brain stones do not exist and nothing is left to kick so that a good many brains, very likely all of them, linger shortly on this planet just to reach the goal of been laid under a well polished tombstone soon after the curtain is lowered hiding away that sort of short but great illusion which we call life.

In the matter of a scientific explanation of reality, from the quark to the solar system, to quasars and black holes, apart from what is perceived with our senses and ultimately with the large support of technical instrumentation to aid our perception practically in all contemporary advanced scientific disciplines, reality as we are wont to explain it nowadays lies mostly in the sciences of advanced physics and mathematics. While physical laws are more tangible to our experience, like kicking a stone may indeed suggest, mathematics is a stupendous creature of the mind which can scan the most mysterious and imponderable mysteries of the universe with apparently exact and unerring paradigms but, not seldom indeed, reaching discordant conclusions in accordance with the chosen variables.

Understandably, the reality of mathematics is a mental process which, just to give an example, can alternatively suggest a collapsing or an ever-expanding universe, depending on the mind exploring the subject. The edge of the universe as well as the intrinsic core of the atom are, to most earthlings, incomprehensible mathematical formulae with a reality strictly tied to mental processes, even if the latter are now largely assisted by instrumental assistance to help discovering mysteries which withal cannot be if the quest be devoid of cube roots and differential calculus. Not less so, mathematics itself is a subtle and mysterious ever-growing process carved in the cortical matter enclosed in the bony box of those evolved apes who have crushed the atom, noticeably and successfully within the core of a couple of crude devices dropped over Japan. From there onwards, through squeezing the atom more and more and creating bigger and bigger bangs with refined and more powerful devices which contaminated the oceans, the soils and the air we could discover some mysteries of the universe - itself an immense atom-crasher. Thus we could gracefully dethrone Einstein's "Old One", the godhead and relieve him from the effort of creation since this all brought us to apparently solve the mystery of the universe's beginning and foretelling its end by hypothesizing a big bang incommensurably greater that those dwarfs we can create to possibly destroy our species. Meanwhile, with the support of an advanced technology we are probing deeper and deeper into that paramount cosmic mystery which we will never solve, apart from more or less correct or tenable theories. These discoveries, noticeably, are brought about by humanity's ever-growing greed for energy, a commodity which has - albeit not yet completely - substituted that displaced godhead who could never pacify his creatures, as a motivation to wage war and spread suffering, death and misery at will without even moving from a chair in front of some pretty red buttons.

The other class of strictly subjective reality in the domain of the mind and the effort to try to uncover what the mind really is, is asking it unanswerable questions concerning the unknowns preceding our individual existence and following its physical demise; and, no less so questioning a gargantuan imponderable like the mind to get some sort of vague answer as to why we are possessed - and not the other way around - by it, albeit we are usually trying to demonstrate that we have a mind and that we command the personal vessel sailing on the waves of life. The subjective truth remains in the stone and the kick, while the reality of the cosmos at large and the interrogatives concerning our mind must rely mostly on great theories and little proof trying to explain the related mysteries. All this primes an intellective process which we call reasoning and pushes us, in accordance with our knowledge and experience, to construct more or less reasonable mental frames where we paint our personal and inviolable truths. But these pictures in the mind are always paintings superimposed on previous paintings, pictures which obey the laws of a constantly changing contingent world kept thriving by the flux of so-called time: something which must be to create the great cosmic drama but which can not tell its own whole story, neither in the past nor in the future because, for all it vastness, time remains the greatest hypothetical sustainer of infinity. These unexplainable processes build our experience, our knowledge, our life but not a point of absolute certainty where we can stop and say "this is it!" simply because there is no end to our unremitting, evolutionary curiosity concerning the great imponderables haunting existence: where we are, where we come from, what we are, what our ultimate destiny might be, what the universe we thrive in ultimately is.

At least and as luck would have it, in such exploration it follows that our epoch is apparently dealing a deadly blow to some divine entity responsible for all that falls under our observation and experience and rightly so, since that entity never really answered our questions irrespective of our prayers and sacrifices nor, as above remarked, could he tame his unruly creatures. Hence we are left to ourselves and, indeed, without superstitious constrictions we fare much better even if question marks multiply and even if, apparently, the time is not yet ripe to the point that we stop destroying and killing each other to please that imaginary entity. It is not anymore a mystery, for an intelligent and sound mind, to discover that we created the gods and not the other way around. Clearly, they would not be so menacing if they were not a creation of the human mind! And it is indeed fine that we can now express such thoughts and the would-be torturers and burners are practically unemployed. Yet, ignorance is still rife and too widespread and rampant on the Earth and, surely enough, vastly profitable to those exploiting religious and social forces which may prove in themselves more dangerous than the most dangerous weapons we brought into existence.

Should we succeed in not destroying our species in some catastrophic event brought about either by our ignorance, stupidity and greed, or by the destructive technology we created, should we surpass these limiting blocks our quests would proceed unabated; no doubt, we will not ever reach any ultimate truth but we will profitably continue to tread a path which will continue in a long, steady future with much darkness dispelled on the way. Truly, the historical record teaches us that the more darkness we dispel the more it grows but, were it not so, we would still be carving stone tools; the problem remains that the stone-tools carvers had not, very likely, a malignant, greedy and selfish mind like those minds keeping humanity rolling on in uncertainty and distress. All evidence points to the fact that the stone-cutters, unlike the stone-kickers, had to live and survive a grand drama in a harsh and hostile environment for hundreds of thousands of years to complete the incredible opera that brought us here. Presently, apart from unforeseeable natural catastrophic events, the word survival should not linger anymore among us were it not that we still insist in blowing up bridges, drawing impassable boundaries and looking uncaringly at the disparity and misery of the world's more distressed populations, the majority.

1 "... among my European friends I am called 'the Great Stone Face [der Grosse Schweiger]..." Albert Einstein, in a letter to Queen Elizabeth of Belgium. - Jeremy Bernstein - Einstein - p. 14 - Fontana/Collins - WM. Coillins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1973 .

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