What a vast array of emotions we as human beings feel and such an incredible multitude of experiences which we incur through our existences! Each individual is a unique entity of being or unit-hood. Each of whom has their own unique set of experiences, a unique perception of events, a unique expression of self, and a unique outward effect upon all of existence. As a human being I take humanity very seriously. Thusly the subject of the human conscious experience is that which I find to be most philosophically fascinating and perplexing.
I like to try to project myself into the world I interact in, in many different ways. I remember once thinking, day dreaming really that if we humans are what we appear to be, a highly capable intellectual species, then we should exercise our intellectual capacities. We should embrace the possibilities and in doing so expand our minds. Our minds have been expanding since our birth observing and encoding into memories all that we have cumulatively experienced. Arguably the first step in anyone’s conscious self-evolution is education. Education is not merely something which is administered to a conscious subject, it is the knowledge which the conscious subject apprehends and takes for their self. The ‘knowledge’ provided by a traditional education is but such relatively small thought fragments of the actual world, constituted as absolute truths by authorities of education. Your knowledge is most frequently gauged in school by how well you can regurgitate the facts that have been spoon fed to you. The process on paper seems simple; in a traditional education these fragments of truth are force fed into students, and the students are expected to memorize, repeat, and comply.
In the more romantic view of knowledge one’s knowledge should instead be personalized and the information made relative to their own experiences’. These fragments are collected over time as one is educated both by life and by traditional schooling and the conglomeration of the fragments forms one’s cognitive conception of reality. The most basic learning in a humans’ development is the sensory experience and empirical data gathering which begin before formal schooling. Which I believe is why we refer to early childhood as one’s formative years.
We first begin to recognize our capacities by way of our memory. Prior to development of linguistic thinking we are able to recognize the faces of our families. Throughout a lifetime of subjective consciousness the memories form into a tangled web of coding for stimuli and normative reactions to stimuli created by past experiences. Memory and our consciousness there-of offers us the ability once linguistic reasoning is begun to abstract and to reflect upon our experiences in an intelligent and cognitive respect. That is that in order to reflect upon something we must firstly observe it. When we reflect upon that sensory observation and apply linguistic symbols upon it we effectively renegotiate our memory of it so that it may be contemplated and also expressed to another subjective consciousness. The expression of one’s own conscious existence to another self-aware being whom has their own conscious subjectivity is called communication. When we review experiences through contemplation we have the opportunity to change our perspective and our feelings about our experience.
I recall one day when I was sitting in the Japanese Zen Garden on the campus of UH Manoa. I could hear the Manoa stream rushing just on the other side of the trees, the whole hillside so vibrant, green, and teeming with life. I sat there observing the koi fish, when the notion came to me that, ‘Just as koi fish swim about a pond and suck up algae so too should we humans wander where we can and absorb the world around us’. Some of our most inspiring talents as humans lay in our complexity of comprehension, our propensity towards symbolic reasoning, and the resulting capacity these talents provide for communication and cooperation.
Every day new experiences fall into our tangled cognitive web, and contemplation is the active cognitive process in which both the sub-conscious and the conscious work together to attempt to make some sort of sense of it all, establish what normality is, and as an accidental side effect create our conceptions of truth and knowledge. Since we determine these ideals within ourselves, after our experience and through our internal reflection, aspects of what we derive to be ‘truth’ can be shared- but ultimately these are individually and personally relativized ideas based off of concepts we form of our own experiences.
Since all humans seem to formulate these self-created notions of a ‘true’ normality, we are each bound to our own experiences. Yet, there is so much of existence that is not bound to us; namely all of those things which we have not yet experienced. The aspects which lie outside of one’s conceived normality are not only limited to the external level of observed stimuli, but as well we will experience weird internal stimuli. Weird internal stimuli such as the emotions connected to things which do not fit neatly into our previously construed perspectives of normality- things which cause us to feel unprepared and to feel existential malaise. Or the feelings of maturation or physical illness which were not available to the consciousness in the past, but are developing into the spectrum of one’s conscious awareness.
The more consciously active we are the more information we are gathering, and the more information we are attempting to process and relativize. I may be wrong but I sometimes wonder if some humans spend much of their existence turned off, or rather never turned on. In being as such they avoid developing a vibral and intellectual sensitivity of that which surrounds them; their consciousness having never expanded to fortify a direct route from the world into their minds. A pathway of reality from that which actually exists, twisted into their individually relative perceptions of the reality of actuality.
It is difficult to undergo a Husserlian épochè, an attempt to welcome newness, and to analyze under unbiased eyes. To allow openness towards that which has not by the individual been previously experienced- To expand consciousness into a greater relative understanding of the subjective consciousness and its connection to the universe through the conscious experience of life. I will start from the beginning of a time when I was so flooded by newness of experience that I could not help but start to write down the results an épochè which was enforced by environmental change, like that which happens when traveling to places you have never been before.