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THE DEATH OF POSSIBILITY

July 18th, 2020

 

Many possibilities must die in order for reality to arise.  In fact, all possibilities for a given moment vanish once that moment has emerged in time.  That tiny sliver of possibilities that actually do occur are no longer possibilities, they are in fact, facts of reality.

 

This lends to an unsettling question: do possibilities even exist?

 

From a purely deterministic viewpoint, the answer is. . . no.  Possibilities do not exist.  The universe is a vast machine which is simply running its program.  But since we are inside of that program, and that we are in fact made of the fabric of the universe’s program, that limited perspective keeps us from seeing just how all the clockwork meshes together in order to bring about the next moment in the exact and often surprising way it emerges.  

 

The concept of a possibility is in fact an illusion.  But aside from deluding ourselves, it generally seems to be a very helpful illusion.  Just as free will is generally a productive notion to believe in despite its total incongruence with a deterministic view of reality.  One convenient aspect of this universe is just how adept humans are at hosting contradictions side-by-side in their minds.

 

Though, it’s perhaps equally beneficial from a psychological perspective to shun all use of the concept of free will and possibility.  From that point of view, there really does seem to be something like destiny, and having a particular destiny in mind can be a powerful force for moving forward if a person is of the belief that their destiny is certain to come about.  There is of course the small caveat that we don’t, and can’t ever know what our ‘destiny’ is in this sense.  

 

Our blindness to the larger movement of the universe necessitates these fantasy-concepts of possibility, free will, goals, and even destiny - if one believes they can know it ahead of time.

 

In fact: what exactly is the difference between someone who believe a particular outcome is “their destiny” and someone else who is simply working really hard to make a certain possibility come about?  The difference seems to be incidental of language more than it is a practical difference.  Perhaps a person with a goal has an orientation that’s a bit more flexible and fluid than the person with a self-proclaimed destiny, which harks of a potentially dangerous stubbornness, but then again, achievement almost always requires a certain hard-headed determination.

 

Regardless of which way we lean on to view the future, we are deluding ourselves to some degree.  To believe that there’s any possibility that things will turn out in any way other than the way they actually will is just as deluded as believing in a specific destiny that is somehow known ahead of time.

 

The death of possibility doesn’t occur the moment the present finally casts all factors into an eternity of frozen past, in fact, the possibilities we imagine don’t ever die, because they never actually existed in the first place.


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Podcast Ep. 825: The Death of Possibility

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