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Kant (realisation)

I was on the train and the train happened to pass by a canal-side path I used to cycle down at university. As it went by, I thought about whether it was the same path as over a decade before—it looked the same, and yet I knew everything about it had changed (changed week to week, from the leaves on the trees to the eroded gravel). It was then it struck me in a visceral way what Kant meant: the only reason I thought about it that way was because I had a memory of it and compared it today to a memory—for someone else, this was only a pseudo-problem, since they’d never seen it before or had only seen it from a different perspective.

At that moment, I realised that I was caught in my own subjectivity and that “the path” did not really exist—or, rather, it existed in hundreds of thousands of different minds, albeit in slightly different iterations. I just mistook the way my own consciousness compared the path to a memory of the path (perhaps an anticipation of the path) for the path itself—and then asked, “Is that the same path?”. Really, I was engaged in monumental solipsism. The path itself is not accessible—there was only what was in my head, and whether “the path” is really there or not is unknowable.

The sensation made me quite dizzy, because it prompted the notion that what is really “out there” is totally unknown to me. It created an image in my mind of a great empty void into which Saturn and Jupiter are pulled—and which is, perhaps, filled with some divine light. The situation evoked a profound sense of detachment—a sensation that what is “real” is illusory. It made me conscious as to the way I naïvely painted my own view onto the situation—just assumed that my perspective was somehow privileged. Actually, I don’t have a deep insight into reality at all.


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