by Tim Jones 12/7/14
Living in a Hermetically Sealed Fishbowl • Immanuel Kant’s theory of epistemology in describing the nature of of reality was basically broken down into two areas: first is the realm of the phenomenal and the the other is the realm of the noumenal. He said that the we can only know and understand reality through our five senses, and that which exists beyond our senses and outside of space and time, the noumenal, we can never know or understand.
This is why is why his general thesis that reason cannot explain everything, that it is limited by the human faculties and cannot explain the invisible world, he was making in a backhanded way the case for the existence of God and for faith when many interpreted his philosophy as making the case that we can only know the material or phenomenal world (the “phenomena”) that was incapable of explaining the spiritual or invisible world (the “noumena”). What he really did was to give definition to the reality of the both ‘worlds,’ that there is a reality beyond what we can only know through our senses and our daily experience.
Applying the Kantian outlook on the world today, we can see how it has evolved to the point where individuals live like they’re in a hermetically sealed fishbowl, unable to consider the possibility that there is more to the world and the universe beyond their latest Instagram picture, tweet or Facebook posting. When most of life’s creature comforts are taken care of then taken for granted, especially in the U.S. and western societies, then nothing becomes good enough. What logically follows is protest against the illusion that life is unfair.
Life then becomes one of perpetual rebellion rather than one of material and spiritual sustenance. We’re the fish in the fishbowl, raging against the water that sustains us without realizing that without it we couldn’t live. It is the ultimate in myopia. Because no one can look or consider the possibilities of what exists outside of their own little realities, they’re unable to consider that just maybe there is a bigger, more truthful reality they can’t see but is as real and as meaningful as that which exists in their minds, and it is as important as their material desires.
Consider now that the country is now $18 trillion in debt. What does this one figure have to do with Kant, living in a fishbowl and constant rebellion in the United States today. We’ve created a fishbowl that’s not just where we live but has become a reality trap. The waters we swim in are the result of 50 years of the welfare state, yet our political leaders and their supporters rage against a system they’ve created and benefit from, yet their myopia and political cynicism won’t allow stepping outside of themselves to see that everyone is a participant in the system they’ve created and now protesting against that very system, a fishbowl in which there is no escaping the realm of the material world nor consideration of greater spiritual truths. In other words, the self is rebelling against itself, a catch-22 in which there is no way out.
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