The View From the Center

Do you live at the center of the universe? Many who do, wish they didn't. It makes them feel responsible for too much. When things go wrong, surely it can't always be their fault. When something needs doing, surely it can't always be their duty. When communication needs to be opened up, surely it doesn't always have to go through them.

It's an exhausting view from here at the center of the universe. I have to see everything all the time, because when I don't see something, it ceases to exist. I have to know all truth, because what I don't know has no effect. I must try to live all lives, lest those lives not get lived. The universe depends on me.

This self-centered and harried view of things is the subjective view. It is the logical result of a big error: the idea that consciousness is more fundamental than existence.

Existence is out there, all around, everywhere. But consciousness is personal. My direct experience of consciousness is limited to my own. An idea that consciousness comes first before existence has to mean that MY consciousness comes first. It has to mean that existence depends on ME.

Surely, a child making such a big mistake would get instant correction from parents. Alas, such a child often gets instant encouragement. The young mind makes a wish, and it is quickly gratified, to show love. The young ruler makes a demand, and it is quickly obeyed, to minimize hassle. The young authority pronounces judgment, and it is acted on, to avoid displeasure.

Surely, teachers disabuse the student subjectivist in a hurry. Except that there are all those philosophers who declare on personal authority that thinking makes it so. What we see depends on what we think, they say; the objects of thought are the products of thought.

Surely, any adult can see the obvious, that things are what they are and do what they do, and one's job is to sort that out. But no, everything is a paradox. What's true for me is not true for you. Everyone's reality is different, so it must be created by everyone's mind.

That's my subjective trap. Having never learned to sort things out, I am stuck with the idea that the only way to see relationships among things is to pretend my mind created them all, like the philosophers say. So here I am at the center of the universe, wishing I could get the hell away from this endless hassle.

To step out of the hassle, step out into the universe that exists on its own, without consulting you. Learn how to handle that universe on its own terms, which apply to everybody. Learn from Ayn Rand how to be objective.

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