Building maps of the Territory using the fixed points of fact concerning birth and death.
If we follow the example of Descartes and try to find a single foundational fact of certainty. I think we should start with this question: Will you die?
I think there is not any reader or hearer of that question who will not answer in the affirmative, though they may wish to avoid the topic altogether. I think that we all know what the answer to that question is, though we may want to deny it, we may want to consider the question at all. We all know that we will one day die.
You and I will die.
The I of our voices, our song, will end. We will no longer be singing our song when we die. Into silence we will go. Our death’s mark the end point of our personal life continuum.
This simple and stark fixed point of certainty is one that we can build upon.
With the certainty of our death established, we can then acknowledge a second certainty. From the one comes the other, if it is a fact that we will die then it is a fact that we were born.
At the other end of our life’s continuum is our conception. Before we were born, we were silent. Out of silence and back into silence is our journey.
From those two facts, those two end points, and the linear flow of physical existence that is our lives in between, all else is built.
We are a physical body that was conceived, was born, and will one day die. Our first act of life is to cry out in pain. Our first song is pre-symbolic noise that erupts out of us as a reflex when our body is jump-started into taking our first breath outside of our mother’s womb. When we die, our song will end. Our last sound will be a pre-symbolic noise, a gasp as we take our last breath. Our life is lived in the time between our first breath and our last breath.
To understand the nature of how we understand reality is to focus in on those facts and build from those truths. What we can deduce from those facts of death and birth is that the physical universe has to exist to support those facts. It cannot be denied that if you were born and if you will die then all of that occurs in a real external and continuing physical reality that was there before you were born and will be there after you die.
[A version of this was first posted on August 28 2016]