The Primary Question

A Consciousness suddenly awakes in grassy meadow. Looking straight forward it notes tall stalks of grass swaying gently in the breeze, a distant hillside under a nearly cloudless blue sky, a seasoned cottonwood to one side interpreting the breeze as the applause of a large crowd and finally the melody of three or four birds chattering to one another.

Philosophy wants and expects this Consciousness, without hesitation, to begin to solve the puzzle of what it believes to be the chief concern: origin. The inquiry, it seems rational, should first be “Where did I come from?”. The Consciousness may then begin a systematic gathering, comparing, measuring and  questioning of the observed, empirical data. The Consciousness has thus discovered “science”. After all, if origin can be deciphered it would serve as a basis for answering all the questions that follow. However, in placing origin as the primary question, the Consciousness has overlooked a curious and telling fact: it’s own intelligibility. It has already taken for granted a more primal observation which is the very fact that it is seeing, reckoning and attempting understanding of it’s environment.

Maybe the Consciousness was clever enough to arrive first at what Descartes said “I think, therefore I am,”. But it’s next question ought to be “To what or whom do I owe this ability to think?”. Suddenly the Consciousness then sees itself as a set of fresh footprints on a beach that lead right up to the feet pressing them into the sand.

The Consciousness, recognizing that  it alone has no power to be outside itself and thus no means of giving itself the ability to think, realizes it owes gratitude and awe to the One who could and did.


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