papo   The third hypothesis
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The three hypotheses

"After eliminating the impossible, whatever remains,
no matter how improbable, is the truth."
(Sherlock Holmes)

My philosophical considerations start off with the basic question: what should we expect to find at the end of our lives. Having touched wood first of all, if we then have an objective look at the question, it becomes clear that all of the existing replies are variations on two or three main strands of thought. I say "two or three" because these classifications are made more arduous by the fact that some of the models presuppose the existence of God, while others do not. In my categorization however, I consider the option of the existence of God a variable element in the main classification, which is based on the number of life opportunities that each of us can hope to undergo.

The "first hypothesis" gives only "one single opportunity", according to which each of us will undergo only one life. If we do not admit the existence of God, we have the "atheistic variant" of the first hypothesis, which supposes that no one has ever existed before being born in the unique life experience to be undergone, and that he or she is destined to return into nothingness – into eternal "non-existence" – as soon as the days of life have come to their end. In the "religious variant" we are considered to have been created by God with the purpose of living this life, at the end of which we will be judged on the merits of our behaviour, and then destined towards a perpetual holiday or perpetual imprisonment.

The "second hypothesis" is reincarnation as it is traditionally understood in many oriental religions. Generally speaking, it is supposed that, once our soul has ended one life, it can incarnate again in another body and start life over, in a cycle that is potentially infinite, but which can be interrupted after a life of an exemplary nature conducted according to those canons specific to each single doctrine. There is the presence of one or more doctrines in some of these religions, but this model could work even without necessarily imagining a divinity with the traditional characteristics of western religions, which makes it quite easy to envisage an "atheistic variant" and a "religious variant" for this second model as well.

The differences between these first two hypotheses are of a formal rather than a substantial nature. In fact, if we agree to call only the first life "birth", and use the term "rebirth" for each subsequent delivery, we have then an initial moment in correspondence with the first birth, after which, following on a number of more or less adventurous mishaps, the human being will reach a final result of "perpetual holidaymaking" in an afterlife that is secure from all the problems that afflict our humble earthly world.

Is that all? Do we have to resign ourselves to choosing one of these models, hoping only that it is the right one? After reflecting on the problem for my entire life, I have realized that there is another possibility, which has not until today ever been treated with due consideration, despite the fact that it echoes through many passages in the writings of great thinkers, and that many ideas have been doing the rounds this long time which, if you think about it for a moment, should by rights imply that it is true. At first sight it might look a bit unrealistic in that it seems to go against our instinctive common sense. Still, during the last century our common sense has been forced to submit to great and significant defeats stemming from the physical sciences and mathematics – which are exactly those areas of study necessary to us if we are to consider this new proposal acceptable.

We arrive at the "third hypothesis" if we imagine that all existing lives, even though they might be taking place in partial competition in time, are in fact things experienced by the same, unique shared mind. Using the hypothesis of reincarnation, we could say that we are all subsequent reincarnations of the same soul, even if our lives are taking place on the identical physical plane of time. Using the hypothesis of the world created by a monotheistic God, we could imagine that we are all God’s "successive dreams", and the limitations of our knowledge and our abilities only exist temporarily in this contingent existence of ours. The interpretation that I personally prefer, and which I would like to ask you to adopt, is that there is no "universal soul", but only a "consciousness property" potentially inherent in the world itself, which can express itself only in the presence of a certain number of conditions which we will not attempt to make a better definition of at this point, but which can certainly lead to smaller or greater degrees of self consciousness. However, the concept that we need to consider fundamental is that this "consciousness property" is necessarily unique, and that, therefore, any living being you meet on your road must be considered as a life experience of your own, exactly as if you were meeting yourself as you were yesterday or as you will be tomorrow.

Although this idea might appear bizarre, I would ask you not to underestimate it, and to try and imagine how we would all behave if we were convinced that it were true. In the following pages, I will begin to set out an overview of the reasons which should convince us to judge this hypothesis as the most reasonable of all alternatives. In fact, face to face with a problem that is not necessarily detrimental to it – the partial concurrence of our lives – it frees us of a much more serious existential predicament, which we do not even notice any longer due to thousands of years of habit. As this idea also envisages an automatic sense of Solomon’s justice, in that, because we are the only possible people who can "experience" life, we are destined to receive all the good and all the evil that we commit in equal measure, we could conclude that, all things considered, even if it did not really represent "true reality", we might be forgiven for hoping that it did.

Continued on the next page: "What is the problem".

 

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Received comments:
DateNameComment
05/02/2010 22:48:51iacopoYou're welcome! I'm gonna to kill the fatted calf... (oops, maybe is better to be vegetarian...) Thank you Alexxarian for your paper, an email will follow soon.
05/02/2010 18:43:47AlexxarianGreetings from you in a different dimension :D

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