Why or how does anything exist at all?
It’s already a tricky question to come up with an answer for, but this particular question may also not have any certain answer, at least as far as we can tell. If everything in existence was made by something else that is greater, then how did this greater thing come to be? If it all just comes about of its own being, then why is it that all in existence seems to exist necessarily? I’ll be addressing the idea of necessary being and the descrepancy between objective existence and reality, referring to conversations I have had with others about the topics and my own contemplations.
First, defining the terms we are contemplating would help us to have a better perspective of the relationships between the concepts. Necessary being is the quality of a thing that allows it to exist, quite frankly, necessarily. This means that it is impossible for it not to exist because its existence is a necessary factor of what defines it. Many people have argued that God has necessary being, which would allow God to exist without having been made or caused by anything so that God could then make and cause the rest of existence. In keeping with modern approaches to ontological contemplation, I will refrain from referring to God or any other supreme being where it is unnecessary to assert such a thing’s existence as a hypothesis, though I will not completely discount the idea of a necessary conscious being (the reasons for which I will explain later in this essay).
Without referring to such a supreme being, one can frame the argument in a similar way by stating that it is the totality of existence itself which exists necessarily. In this manner, everything that exists is still made by something with the quality of necessary being, but instead of being caused by a governing factor outside of the system of existence, it is the system of existence itself which is the governing factor of its internal “parts”. In this perspective, the totality of existence takes the place of God as a self-perpetuating and fulfilling system, being both its own cause and effect. Within it, everything which we would recognize and experience emerges from its processes as natural phenomena. But this raises an important distinction: perceived reality does not include everything in existence.
It is no secret that we do not immediately perceive existence as it is, but rather we perceive existence as it appears. The forced perspective of a physical reality defined by the dimensions of space-time mean that we are forced into an experience in which the most notable factors of the experience are necessarily physical, being in a physical reality. Here, “reality” refers to the frame and areas of existence that are experienced through perception. It should be noted that though we can perceive many things in reality through our senses, our primary information-gathering tools, we cannot perceive all things in existence or existence itself. This is usually framed in philosophic discussions as not being able to perceive objects or things in themselves. Kant makes the distinction between noumena, these things in themselves that are objective existence(s), and phenomena, things that are perceived through the physical formality or manner of our perception and cognition but are not themselves distinct objects. Without getting too engrained in the technical jargon, this sort of distinction aims at describing in at least one way the difference between the reality as it is represented and the existence which it aims to represent, and it is here that we highlight the difference between reality and existence as an objective system.
Necessarily, in order for a represented reality to be perceived, there must be some thing perceiving it. This is typically referred to as the perceiver or observer, which we identify at least part of our being with. We perceive existence through specific formal parameters, giving it the appearance it takes in physical reality. However, this does not necessarily mean that everything which is thusly made “real”, or given form in reality, reflects the objective existence perfectly. Instead, our perceived realities are interpretations by our minds, made so that certain information is emphasized and other information is de-emphasized. This not only serves us practically, but it also suggests that our perceptual constraints to specific dimensions of existence are in some way adaptable and not necessarily random or arbitrarily given. In other words, we as beings likely have evolved to be able to specifically perceive certain dimensions of our existence that best fit our ability to navigate exist within the dimensions that we aim to occupy. This does not mean we have the optimal form of existence within each dimension, but rather that we are tailored to navigating existence in a specific way.
That being said, I would like to focus on the mind again. Our bodies are clearly physical, and are thus constrained to physical limitations, but consciousness seems to transcend physicality, often allowing us to be consciously aware of things which are not themselves physical forms or representations/appearances. However, if you are taking the physical representations of existence to be merely appearances, like illusory images on a screen, you are missing the point of the multidimensional nature of reality. Emotions are not physical. You cannot hold anger in you hand or top a pizza with love, but it can still be felt. Emotions can be layered in voices, buried in our chests, drained from our bodies, or left throughout a room. Emotions are not physical, but there are many physical aspects of emotionality. This multidimensional nature is what defines the transcendental aspects of existence. The fact that something can be describe in terms of a physical reality, but not at all limited to it demonstrates that the dimensions which are not immediately apparent are nonetheless existing as necessarily and experientially as the physical forms we perceive.
Consider the mind itself. In terms of physicality, our nervous systems are like organic computers, processing sensory data to hallucinate a conscious experience for our conscious mind to navigate. Does this mean that we create existence? Not likely, as we are within the existence which would have to be created. But, this does mean that reality’s manifestation could not be separated from our own existence. Consider again the personal experience. It has a center and and external being. Reality seems to emerge from the locus of being, or maybe it is drawn to it as matter and light are drawn to black holes. We cannot say what the nature of our conscious existence is, but we have hypothesized that it, like the means of our perception, is organized for the purpose of our navigation. The hypothesis I here is that we are a self-conscious aspect of existence, manifesting reality through its awareness in a way that allows it the ability to consciously navigate certain dimensions for the sake of… exploration? For testing reality and existence itself?
One type of perspective which I happen to be fond of considers the nature of existence as necessarily playful because it seems as if there is no logical reason for existence. Why have something which necessarily must exist? Because nothingness offers nothing to a subjective, personal being. Why have such multidimensional exchanges and interactions? Why create such a vastly diverse and intricate reality abstracted from the objective information available in whatever existence in-itself is? These questions can neither be asked nor answered without the existence of a sentient consciousness, bordered by unconsciousness and mystery, that has the ability to be given reality and act within and upon it in order to navigate it and express itself within it. We are obviously in a simulated reality, because we are simulating it within our own minds. Regardless of whether or not the information which we are drawing from is that of objective existence or information fed to us by another system within the objective existence, our experience is the same. We are still in the type of reality which we happen to be in with its given dimensional parameters. And from here, there are only two questions. Would you like to explore the dimensionality of this form of existence and see where its limits lie and what it has to offer? And if so, what would you do?