An Illusion of Permanence

Within First-Second Degree of Illumination bubble awareness, the concept of object permanence is that things exist even though I’m not perceptually aware of them. For example, I know the door to my office is open even when I’m not looking at it to confirm that condition.

According to Piaget, we acquire this sense of object permanence at about 8-9 months of age. Apparently, it is not instinctive – and perhaps learned.

Do objects exist even though I am unaware of them? Does a person live in a jungle somewhere in Brazil when I’m unaware of his/her existence?

These and other questions arise when considering what is real outside my attention to it. Metaphysical Solipsism is the concept that I am alone in the universe and that the universe itself exists because I perceive it. Concerning solipsism –

The idealist philosopher George Berkeley argued that physical objects do not exist independently of the mind that perceives them. An item truly exists only as long as it is observed; otherwise, it is not only meaningless but simply nonexistent. The observer and the observed are one. (Wikipedia)

I cannot refute or test this as a concept – no more than I can test for the presence of a god or gods. How might I test for a reality outside my awareness? Or test Berkeley’s argument when everything I’d use to do the testing is of my own imagining? Yet his argument appears to account for every aspect of my experience with object permanence.

Things tend to exist as I expect them to exist.

Even if Berkeley was/is correct and nothing exists until I perceive it into existence, there DOES APPEAR to be some kind of reality in which I exist, behave, and have experiences. I don’t have to consciously know what it all means in order to experience it. And my interactions with my illusory permanence are compelling and convincing to me.

Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.
(A. Einstein)

Let’s say the aspect of me that is my awareness of Berkeley as an entity is correct – what can I do about it? According to Donald Hoffman, nothing – no special behavior or action is required to experience what I experience as I experience it. Basically, all that I experience is a projection of what I believe, i.e., I’m always experiencing ME. The result of this experience of ME is that everything appears as it does exactly as I perceive it. After all, time is part of that perceptual equation.

Because the presentation of ME is as convincing and compelling as it is, I’m drawn to interact with it. I MUST deal with my projection and cannot ignore it without consequence. I so thoroughly believe in cause and effect as I experience it that I must observe it. So compelling is my belief in others as I perceive them that I must interact with them as separate from me. This compels me to deal with the world of my making, however illusory.

The D’oh of Po

To ascend from First-Second Degree of Illumination bubble awareness – through Third Degree of Illumination choice – to acceptance of accountability in Fourth Degree of Illumination and beyond, I must learn to consciously accept that MY perception as the ONLY perception I have. Solipsism in a nutshell.

My experience changes from defense against it (Hoffman) to gratitude and appreciation for it (Berkeley) as I move from the role of victim to that of creator through acceptance of accountability.

In my world of illusion of permanence, I recall the immortal words of Po,

I’m not a big, fat panda. I’m the big, fat panda!
(movie: Kung Fu Panda, 2008)

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