Monday, March 28, 2011
Es Es Percepe
Is there really an external world? Is there really a world outside of our experience? When you see an apple, you picture it in your mind (as you are right now); what happens when you close your eyes and think of something else? Does the apple disappear? Does the world disappear when you close your eyes? If everyone in the world closed their eyes and emptied their minds at the same time would the universe disappear? When we group our regularly occurring experiences we give them names. “Apple” is our word for a consistent collection of sweet, red, crunchy sensations of a certain size, texture, and smell. But that is all an apple is. Or is it? According to George Berkeley (1685-1753) that is all an apple is. To suppose that it is something more, something OUT THERE, is to go beyond the evidence of experience. Worse, it is to think the absurd thought that sweetness can exist untasted and red can exist unseen. To believe that something exists in the realm OUTSIDE the senses is to build a shaky scaffolding to stand on. Yet it might surprise you to know that George was a devout Christian. He actually used this “idealism” as evidence and proof for God. Berkeley argues that God perceives and therefore sustains the whole of the universe whether we happen to be looking at it or not. For Berkeley the continued existence of everything is proof not only of God’s existence but also his benevolence. If God blinked, not only would our world go out of existence but so would we. The Latin “es es percepe” means “to be is to be perceived”. What would we be without others experiencing us? What would we be without our own senses? What would we be without God perceiving us? With us being unable to trust our own senses reality and truth, then, is how God perceives it. The truth corresponds to reality as GOD perceives it: NOT OUR PERCEPTION. Our very existence depends on GOD perceiving us: NOT OUR PERCEPTION of HIM! I think ancient scripture writers understood this when they gave us the priestly benediction: “May the Lord bless you and keep you; may the Lord make his FACE SHINE ON YOU and be gracious to you; may the Lord TURN HIS FACE TOWARD YOU and give you peace.” May the Lord PERCEIVE you too.