At one point in time I had a very weird problem with myself. Am “I” independent of my body? Where is this “I” ?
Anyone would know that this is a philosophical problem, sort of an ontological problem (or some would even say that this is a religious question), asked and attempted to be answered, by a bunch of brilliant people, ranging from the time before Plato to the Nyaya-Vaisesikans to the phenomenologists, the existentialists, the prophets, the buddhas, the novelists, the poets, etc. etc. but for me, this problem is very real and it affects me and my actions.
I can read all I want from these people and still not getting an answer. Of course, it won't be that easy. If reading all these books by all these people will enlighten me, then computers should already know that they are merely computers. I need to meditate on the problem and drawing from the thousands of years of wisdom, I have to figure it out myself.
First of all, I have to look at myself. Like Mr. Okada, I can confirm the existence of my body by feeling it, the fingers, the eyes, the ears, the toes, the beating of my heart, that my eyes receives light, that I can smell the scent of blooming flowers etc. I can feel my body through pain and exhaustion. I can feel it with joy, laughter, tears, anger. All these, at least as far as I can verify, exists. The fact that I can verify these things exists should, rightly, tells me that I exist. I am conscious of the existence of the “I” that is verifying the existence of my body and its chemistry. That much I know and this is as far a Descartes went when he pronounced, “cogito ergo sum”. (However, I can't accept his extension from this conclusion to “proof” that God exists. Well, that is another argument which I shall not deal with here.)
I can also verify my existence by affecting other objects that I believe exist with my actions. As the phenomenologists like to say, if I can feel the dimensions and identify the properties of the object by physical and mechanical means, then surely it must exist. If I can kick a fellow and if that fellow gives me a snear or kicks back, then that fellow must exist. I would not be imagining him, would I? Or maybe I would. I could have imagined the whole thing. My mind can create the scenario and produce the necessary sensory perceptions and feelings. Afterall, all our knowledge, our feelings, things that we said we have “verified” in the paragraph above, are all due to the way our body is “wired” to “tell” us that information. Can I really rely on these “wires”? To verify that I exist and to believe that “cogito ergo sum”, I will have to trust that these “wires” are working properly and not playing tricks on me. How can “I” be certain at that?
Now, I am damn confused again.
Well, maybe I try to look at it from another angle. When someone peels my skins off without anaesthetics, will I feel the pain? Yes, I think I will. Do I want this pain to end? Yes, I think I would. So, if that someone stop the motions of peeling my skins, would I cease to feel the pain? I think it would and I very much like that someone to stop that action.
If I cease to exist in this world, would I still be physically present? Well, I think maybe I would not. At least I will not move unless I am a zombie or something but that zombie is not me. It is something else. So I don't think I will be physically present the way I used to be. Do I know for sure that my soul will go to heaven or hell or just linger around and then one day my body will be miraculously resurrected as if new? Well, I am not certain about the first one and no, at this point I don't think I believe in that and re the resurrection, I think it is just pure fiction and imagination.
Then you think and believe at this moment, right now, that your physical being is what you are and all you can do is to merely leave a legacy, a religion, or decendants to succeed you?
Well, I think at this moment, I do believe it to be so. I surely would not wish someone to skin me alive to proof their point.
Then, my dear friend, you should take more care and look after your teeth because you can be damn sure that they will rot.