That which has no existence …
That which has no existence … - by P.K.Odendaal - May 2013
I have had a discussion with someone recently on starting a flying community at our local airport. There is no formal or informal structure to bind the lots of people together who are interested in flying. Well … here it comes … an interest in flying is not a material or physical thing - it is an idea or notion.
And what struck me immediately were the words of White from The Sunset Limited by Cormac McCarthy:
White: I want the dead to be dead - forever. And I want to be one of them. Except that of course you can't be one of them. You can't be one of the dead, because what has no existence can have no community.
When I studied the Sunset Limited, I really thought that this remark by White was totally true, but now that I have to start a community from nothing, I am not so sure anymore. Or do you think that the concept of the dead and the concept of a flying interest are not equally dead or non-existent? What if the dead should be found to be alive? Will that community exist then? And how will we treat a community who never existed and suddenly became alive? Is the belief of one man the sole proof of the existence of such a community or do we need a majority as in a democratic one? Does something not exist purely because I do not believe in its existence? Does that also apply to God? Do I not need any proof of anything I believe in? Can I just kill anything which lives just by not believing in its existence? Is my ignorance enough to kill the entire world and all of heaven? Has nobody else a say in what I kill and what I sustain? How sure am I that I do exist, apart from the fact that I think? Are communities subject to my believing in them?
And so I come to question more and more the ideas of White uttered in this brilliant piece. I have come to understand that what White says has neither substance nor sense - the allegation he made to Black:
White: So you come to the end of your rope and you admit defeat and you are in despair and in this state you seize upon whatever it is that has neither substance nor sense and you grab hold of it and hang on for dear life.
On reflection, one can see that neither White nor Black has any substance or sense to their argument. White is arguing from an intellectual level which is based on an ignorance of faith, and Black is arguing from a level of faith which is based on ignorance - and never the twain shall meet.
Is there any level on which they may meet? I am not so sure, but I would think that a rational one would be more successful one - and so let us analyse the statement of White about 'what has no existence can have no community' in more detail.
Let us take … well … the Flat Earth Society. It is a community of people who believe that the Earth is flat. Of course our scientists believe that a flat earth does not exist - and so such a Flat Earth Society cannot exist or even people who believe in a flat earth cannot - and yet they do - centuries after Copernicus and Galileo established in the sixteenth century that the earth was round. In fact Aristotle already said that the earth was a sphere, as it could have no other shape if this earth and mankind was to be at the centre of the universe as everybody believed it to be! If one man was not more important in the universe than another, they all had to occupy a stage equidistant from the centre of the universe - the spherical surface of the earth. That is quite an interesting thought, if one considers that the diameter of the earth is not exactly the same everywhere, so that some people are in fact more important than others. Is that why they say that Congress is on the Hill?
The Flat Earth Society still exists today.
Are they wrong and does a flat earth really not exist and can such a group of people then not form a community. And what if the Flat Earth Society should one day be proven right, as they well may be. Will they all of a sudden become a community again? In a certain sense I think they are right. For us who are three dimensional creatures, anything of two dimensions is flat. And so for people who live in four dimensions, our three dimensions will be a flat object.
White is patently wrong.
And this is true for all his statements. It just takes some thought and consideration to expose the fallacies of the arguments of agnostics. Of course I also say that Black was wrong, if his argument did not take into account his experiential viewpoint and the domain in which he exists.
And finally I wish to ask the question: Can something not exist? I have dealt intellectually with this subject in another article, which I will not repeat here. I will only say here that I doubt the non-existence of anything - be it physical, observable or conceptual.