How can I tell …

How can I tell that the past isn’t a fiction designed to account for the discrepancy between my immediate physical sensations and my state of mind?

Man in the Shack (Ruler of the Universe), in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Fit the Twelfth


6 thoughts on “How can I tell …

  1. That’s one hell of a question! Because the past has everything to do with your immediate physical sensations, but at some point or period your state of mind is responsible for that. Whether your past is good or bad, what u become represents that. As, far as state of mind you should be trained, have knowledge,and charisma regardless of the circumstances of your past. Does that make sense?

    • You should have heard the radio comedy where this came from; it made for fine British comedy. And somehow it came from a man, said to be the ruler of the universe, who questioned the truthfulness of everything, including those in front of him.

      It does make sense, but you have to be reminded, this is a form of a philosophical problem (inappropriately used in the series, but nonetheless), which to be answered requires raising up all assumptions involved. It questions the nature of our memories, which encompasses our present state of mind, which alters through interpretation sensational phenomena. Given those definitions, how can we say that what we see is actually what we see when our state of mind alters what we see? And because we are not sure that what we see is what we actually see, we try to construct what we see according to what we saw before (which is what we used to see but altered by what we used to see), hence the “fiction/constructedness” of the past. Because think of it this way, if we don’t have a past, like in a person who suffered from amnesia, everything would be unfamiliar. Hence, the construction of the past is to make the unfamiliar sensation familiar, which involves altering or interpreting the sensation.

      Confusing, I know, but also a thought-provoking thought. If you want to be further illuminated, I suggest meditating on this poetry by Jami, an ancient Arabian philosopher:

      From the solitary desert
      Up to Baghdad came a simple
      Arab; there amid the rout
      Grew bewildered of the countless
      People, hither, thither, running,
      coming, going, meeting, parting,
      Clamor, clatter, and confusion,
      All about him and about.

      Travel-wearied, hubbub-dizzy,
      would the simple Arab fain
      Get to sleep – “But then, on waking,
      How,” quoth he, “amid so many
      Waking, know myself again?”

      So, to make the matter certain,
      Strung a gourd about his ankle,
      And, into a corner creeping,
      Baghdad and himself and people
      Soon were blotted from his brain.

      But one that heard him and divined
      His purpose, slyly crept behind;
      From the sleeper’s ankle clipping,
      Round his own the pumpkin tied,
      And laid him down to sleep beside.

      By and by, the Arab waking,
      Looks directly for his signal –
      Sees it on another’s ankle –
      Cries aloud, “Oh, good-for-nothing
      Rascal to perplex me so!
      That by you I am bewildered,
      Whether i be I or no!
      If I – the pumpkin why on you?
      If you – then where am I, and who?”

      Website citation:

      • Its not confusing. I get what you mean. Our state of mind basically controls our physical sensations or as you said alters what we see. Which is why eye witnesses usually cannot be used as evidence. Our past is needed to make present experience familiar, and to have knowledge, and intuition, if u will. Without a past a persons state of mind might be be non existent. Any who I appreciate reading things that make me think hard. I appreciate different points of views, and intake on regular or complex topics. I hope I am not to off key, sometimes I grasp a point and explain it in an entirely different way. Thank you for this insightful information, and responding to my comment. I look forward to more posts

      • Don’t worry, you’re not off key, and besides, such deviations are natural to creative thinkers. And I’m glad you liked my blog. Thanks!
        Good day, or night, whatever applies. 😀

  2. Pingback: How can I tell … | Profitsourcesite's Blog

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