In-Between Thoughts 12.11.19: are ideas real?

Awww, Wednesday was my last philosophy class for the semester. I didn’t expect to say this going into a class dedicated to studying Marx, Freud, and Deleuze & Guattari, but it was my favorite class so far. I KNOW. Who’d a thunk I’d become a semi-Marxist at the ripe old age of 37? Now I just need to not get fired for my final paper AND ALL WILL BE WELL. (Why is a fundraiser critiquing elite philanthropy, you ask? BECAUSE MARX BEGS IT, she answers.)

But onto gym thoughts. They were particularly free-wheeling and evolved over the course of my session, so hopefully some of this ended up making sense….

Every once in a while I think about whether or not ideas exist independently of the mind. Do we create ideas, or do we merely discover them? Can the idea of gravity be as real a thing out in the world as the phenomenon of gravity? I don’t have a good answer either way, which is interesting because I know what I would have said back when I was all confident and solid in my Christian belief system: all ideas exist in the mind of God, so we are, in fast, just discovering them. But that answer no longer satisfies, because I no longer start my analytical thought with the premise of God.

(This doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in the existence if God, nor that I don’t want to believe in the existence of God, nor that I don’t want there to be a God, just that I don’t start an analysis of the world from the God starting point.)

As a matter of fact, the very idea of God puts the question in a peculiar light. Let’s says ideas do exist independent of a mind. In order for ideas to exist, do they have to represent something that also exists? Aka, we only have the idea of gravity because gravity actually exists and is present to us. Therefore, its idea can exist as part of its whole ontological package.

Someone may argue that this can’t be the case, because unicorns don’t exist, yet we have the idea of unicorns. But the idea of a unicorn is an aggregate of other existing parts. A horse. A horn. The process of grafting (a horn onto a horse’s head, in this case). Unicorns exist, just in a dismembered, scattered state. [Betcha didn’t expect this to get so macabre, but hey. IT’S THE LIFTING HORMONES.]

Look at the murderous glint in my eye. Blame the pullups.

So what of God? Can we break the idea of God down into we-can-prove-it-exists natural phenomena? Parts like the general rules of the universe, for instance. The (seeming) free will of human beings. The mystery of a world beyond our full comprehension.

I’ve seen this argument somewhere before, but it does seem like there is something to the idea that our idea of God is made up of all the big, powerful things we can’t explain rolled up into the singular concept of deity. Whether many or one. Whether or not God in any form actually exists.

But that still doesn’t get me any closer to figuring out if ideas exist. I suspect this is an unanswerable question, at least now. We know too little about consciousness, and it’s certainly a question outside the realm of true scientific inquiry. But it sure is crazy and fun to think about, especially at the gym.

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