“How do I know if I exist?” is generally treated as a valid philosophical question – but is it? Is it really? The answer that immediately comes back to me after asking that is an emphatic ‘NO’. NO it ISN’T a valid philosophical question at all. It is on the contrary the purest bullshit, so heavily loaded down with unexamined assumptions as to be entirely meaningless.
Where to begin? The notion of ‘I’ – who or what is that supposed to be? Who do I think I am? This is a load of bullshit to begin with – a vague, half-assed, ill-thought-out piece of delusory phantasmagorical bullshit. I am needless to say more than happy to start bandying the concept of personal identity around but the truth is of course that I never once in my life sat down to seriously think about who I am and what this supposed ‘personal identity’ is all about. Like everyone else, I have been perfectly content to assume that I knew exactly who I am and live my life on this half-assed ill-substantiated basis. What’s wrong with assuming that I am this, that or the other, after all? Amn’t I allowed to make assumptions, and then pretend that they’re true? What’s the problem with that, for God’s sake? Jeez….
And then comes the apparently innocent idea that ‘I’ – whoever that is supposed to be – can “know” something. Or anything. In some meaningful sense of the word. That’s a great laugh. A real deep-down belly-laugh. A real cosmic joke if ever there was one. This half-assed unsubstantiated vague imagining of some lazily taken-for-granted crappy old notion of ‘who I apparently am’ is supposed to “know” something? How can the ghost of an idea, a deluded somnambulistic half-cocked ill-thought-out deluded notion of ‘who I am’ “KNOW” anything? What kind of bullcrap is this?
And then finally “exist”. OK. Right. What the hell is “exist” supposed to mean? Exist? Exist? Exist? How could anything ever “exist”? Did you ever stop to think how stupid that is? “Exist” is just a dumb word. It doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t mean shit. It isn’t worth a fart. It’s like a fart. Do you know what ‘exist’ means? It’s just a noise you make with your mouth, nothing more than this. You think you know what it means to say something exists, or that ‘you’ exist? You think that’s pretty straightforward? Oh yeah, that’s pretty basic for sure. We all know what it means to exist. We all know what existence is all about. Of course we do. To exist means to to exist. Existence means existence, right? Where’s the problem?
Words are all preposterously meaningless nonsense when it comes down to it. Ideas are all preposterously meaningless nonsense. Pure garbage. The suggestion (or implication) that we can or should take a string of preposterously meaningless words or ideas SERIOUSLY, and then solemnly try to ‘get something out of the exercise’ is a total joke. I might as well bray like a jack-ass or bark like a dog and then contemplate the meaning of that. It would make as much sense. Or more sense, even. I’d have more respect for a braying jackass any day…
“Exist” and “Don’t exist” are both merely terms or categories in an empty linguistic game. We can pretend that they mean something, but they don’t. They are only semantic ghosts. Spooks, like Robert Anton Wilson says. They mean nothing and you’re a damn fool if you think they do.
What is ‘a concept’? What is ‘a word’? What is ‘a thought’? Only tokens for something. Empty tokens. Wooden sign-posts pointing nowhere. The paint peeling off them. Swinging creakily to and fro in the breeze.
Tokens for WHAT? Sign-posts to WHERE? We don’t know. We don’t even care. We don’t care ‘for what’! Or ‘to where’. We never bother about that, because that would be genuinely philosophical. God knows we don’t want to get DEEP. As long as we can keep on juggling our hollow concepts, our ‘semantic ghosts’, we are quite happy. That’s the kind of jackasses we are. I don’t mean to insult real jackasses here by comparing them with the human variety, by the way.
Who needs reality? Who even cares about reality? We have our stupid pointless concepts to keep us busy. As long as we can keep on playing about with our words and ideas we are quite content. Taking ourselves all seriously. As we do. Solemnly asking stupid pseudo-philosophical questions such as “How do I know if I exist?” and then – insufferable fools that we are – proceeding to pat ourselves on the back for being so smart, for being so sophisticated…