In approaching identity, I like the visualization of “approaching” identity in a way similar to evaluating the ‘limit‘ as x approaches a value, where x is a representation of a “space-time” dependent reality, and where identity, as f(x), is a function of space-time. As observers, we are likely only able to estimate an expected identity at that limit… Thus, it seems diligent and helpful to mention that all ideas on such matters are estimates — possibilities to consider, link and evolve. In recognizing this, I hope to encourage individual inquiry as opposed to a dogmatic philosophy regarding any idea.
Shaun Terry’s “Special Snowflakes, Just Like All the Other Snowflakes” brought up some interesting points that inspired more thought on some of my ideas.
I would like to consider the possibility that it is in the full context of this physical world that each individually-limited state-of-being makes sense, or ‘exists’.
As beings with limited consciousness (i.e. perceiving vs having omniscience/omnipotence/omnipresence), it would appear that our individualized state of consciousness and the context of this world cannot be fully separated. To separate it would suggest that consciousness is not a product of this physical world. While this is certainly a valid inquiry to explore and one I tend to enjoy exploring, it does suggest entry into a strictly metaphysical realm and potentially removes the currently discussed “discrete” aspect of consciousness when tied to individual beings in space-time. To remove this discreteness suggests combining consciousness into one consciousness, which I do not oppose doing, but is of another scope… Instead of seeing such a scope as an either-or conundrum, it appears to me to more closely open inquiry on a further layer beyond what we think we perceive, that may encapsulate this physical reality within it. Currently, this post is discussing from within the physical reality and considers the individual’s limits, but other layers are welcome.
I am intrigued by a conception of identity in which it is something much more than what other people think about you or what you think of yourself. I certainly give room for such an argument to be made and do think that those factors influence it. Further, I think it is acceptable for one to limit the definition to that layer, if one chooses. But in this analysis, I examine identity from what occurs to me as a slightly more macro level. In this conception, it may seem more consistent to consider identity along segments of space-time, as opposed to frozen moments, to account for constant motion, considering instantaneous change to be a property of existence too.
Terry mentions the film-reel metaphor by which humans process their surroundings and change perception, which is a fantastic point on perception and human capability. Here I however argue for considering a conception of identity that is intimately linked to the reality it is operating within, and not just an isolation of perception and its limits. In this sense, again, identity is posed as a function of space-time, thus every iteration of space-time creates a new reality within which a state-of-being exists and thus a new identity as a part of that space-time, not solely dependent on perception, though including perception.
In this conception, identity is seen as state-of-being, during a specific segment in space-time, while noting possibilities for division into shorter and shorter segments, and further, that a state-of-being is constantly linked to everything — to the motion and arrangement of all particles in the universe — because the configuration of each particle [i.e. fermions (such as electrons, protons and helium-3) and bosons (such as photons and helium 4)] in a discrete moment in time, is in relation to another particle and thus to all other particles, including those that make up each of us. It would be diligent to recognize the current idea that in this universe there exist subatomic particles at constant motion.
It also seems to be the case that state of mind is closely linked to our biological processes (such as hormones, cognitive patterns etc.). This biological context does not appear to be isolated from the world outside of the individual’s body; bodies are in constant exchange with that world.
Similarly, our ideas seem to be in constant exchange with the ideas of others, ideas that are filtered through physical contexts. The ideas we entertain seem to impact our state of mind, which I like to consider as a component of a larger concept of state-of-being and identity. It seems dutiful to note such a state-of-being appears to follow a trend of connected states of being along a space-time continuum. All of this seems to suggest that you cannot have a state-of-being/identity that is isolated or independent of the universal context. You could say we are always in communion with the precise motion and arrangement of all particles at any given space between moments.
As to the last paragraph of Identity and Infinity, a question was raised about its placement and I would agree that it does appear like a sudden shift and then jumping “off a cliff.” The paragraph arises from a desire to avoid approaching a collection of ideas in just one way, but to open and leave room for alternative inquiry. The last paragraph starts to touch on something that could be considered among the spiritual/perhaps religious realm, which I tend to not directly address. I do not consider myself religious, though I don’t dogmatically close myself off from spirituality. Whatever I do think, that has metaphysical applications/a spiritual essence, usually arises from basic physical interpretations, concepts and patterns — that feature is what intrigues me most, and inspires me to explore its possible symbolism/metaphorical applications… These inquiries, for me, extend from science-based ideas, such as considering the movement of electrons or that nothing we perceive is truly solid…
On the last two paragraphs from the first draft of Infinity and Identity:
In this instance, we start to stumble upon a recurring idea that everything is God. If everything that is is altogether an omniscient/omnipotent omnipresence, then there is nothing further to change. There is nothing to develop of omniscience — nothing to question, nothing to exchange between something else, nothing to evolve… It just is. This suggests a static value. This appears to me, as everything, altogether, necessitates a layer outside of space-time, in which this experience of space-time is not conceived by an omnipresence as a function of space-time. Going back, our isolated experiences do not appear to be that of omniscience, for that would render everything within space-time, physical flux pointless.
The consolidation of these ideas may suggest that this trembling reality is a slice of what is all. And further, that each given space between moments along space-time within this physical reality is the physical universe’s state-of-being, and at that period, that state is what the universe is. It is surely informed by all that has happened prior, but in that snapshot, it is what it is in that instance. We tend to assert that it follows rules in “becoming.”
But, in each instantaneous rate of change, the universe exists in an arrangement of moving particles and that reality is tied to each of us, and thus each identity within a space-time-context at each moment. As the state of the universe is a slice of a reality in motion along space-time — a slice out of all other iterations of the universe along space-time (and potentially infinite universes, i.e. the “Multiverse” discussed by many theorists, including our contemporaries Stephen Hawking, Neil Degrasse Tyson and Michio Kaku) — so too may we, as a rough, metaphorical microcosm of such a relationship, be in any specific segment of space-time both a slice of our whole existence and yet a whole state-of-being uniquely experiencing and being at that time.
This may link to some ideas on being “judged by your heart,” in which the heart or state-of-being upon each instance is the truest you in that instance; with a unique perception and experience of each moment within a universal space-time context.
Maybe we can look at it like this: The mind is a product of the whole universe (and maybe more!). Ideally, we are each whole, yet a slice of everything, together we make another whole, and within that whole we are intimately connected to every other particle, and thus, every particle creates the reality that informs the reality of every other particle. Now, the Rhizome (as put forth by Deleuze and Guatarri)? Perhaps we’ll dip our toes in this soon…
This response has given a preliminary look at a measure of fluctuations, however minuscule, along segments of space-time. It can be argued that each moment-to-moment snapshot of identity, however true to the moment it may be, seems meaningless. It is part of an individual’s life. It is one expression of all expressions that individual has and will have in space-time. Beyond that, if identity could be explored as a fully separate concept from a space-time context, we enter into the idea of a metaphysical consciousness; in doing so, our conception of “perceiving,” no longer appears necessary. And, if consciousness does not need to perceive, then omniscient, omnipotent omnipresence again comes up. And, in bringing this possibility of all beings sharing a fuller omni-consciousness, it seems prudent to extend the concept of snapshots of identity; each individual is an identity, but only a slice of all that may be. Nevertheless, when at a healthy state we like to call ourselves whole human beings. And when in a healthy state, perhaps in each space between moments, we can be our truest selves and we can be whole.
(And, perhaps when we are all each whole at the same time, we could become one enlightened whole?)