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The Philosopher's Truth

What is good? What is evil? What is justice? What is love? What is life? What is God? What is the truth?

These questions have lasted for as long as humankind has existed.

Like professors calculating a mathematical limit, philosophers search, dedicating their whole lives to the truth but only ever grasping an approximation. It continues like a cycle, Socrates then Plato then Aristotle then Augustine then Aquinas then Hobbes then Machiavelli then Descartes then Locke then Voltaire, Rosseau, Montesquieu, then Kant then Marx then Nietzsche then You…

You’ve completed the cycle.

You have done what no one else has been able to do.

You’ve found the Philosopher’s Truth.

On the shoulders of geniuses, you have seen far and wide. But out of all of them, you were the only one who has come this far. While, as children, others were playing hooky and skipping school, you were questioning the world around us. When they grew up as adults in their twenties and began pursuing love, you were developing theorems and theses. When they grew old and retired, you were still pursuing knowledge and truth.

Your hair had long since whitened and your eyes could barely see a couple of feet ahead. Your mind was still sharp though your body frail. You looked at me then looked around. There was nothing.

“Who are you?” You asked.

“You don’t know?”

“Are you God?”

“Yes and no,” I replied. I checked my watch. “Come, let me take you on a journey.”

And so it was. You found yourself a few inches above the surface of the void, then a few feet, then a few miles. You blinked and when your eyes opened again, the world had changed. You were back on Earth. But this wasn’t the Earth you knew. It was molten and fiery like a raging volcano.

“Do you take all your visitors on this journey?” You asked, still in shock.

“Only those like you”.

You opened your mouth, probably to ask what I meant, but I had already snapped my fingers.

In an instant, the world changed once more. This time Earth changed from a molten fiery mess to a frozen wasteland to blue oceans and green continents. Then you saw the first humans, tiny and insignificant. They were at the bottom of the food chain, running at the sight of any predators. They began to progress, discovering fire, building wooden tools, and learning to set traps.

Time progressed, faster and faster until it reached modern civilization, from wood to steel and huts to skyscrapers.

Then you saw yourself. You were just being born. What was that hospital named again? Oh right, Northern Jefferson Hospital in New Liam. Your father and mother were holding you in their arms.

You imagined their faces tender and full of love, but reality was cruel. Your mother was indifferent, and your father was disappointed. Neither cared at the moment of your birth, and neither would care after you grew up.

You wanted to play outside but was never allowed to. The only thing you had an abundance of was time, so you began to think. You wanted to become an artist, but your parents forced you to become a professor. You wanted love, but you have never experienced love before. You thought: how could I love when I don’t even know what love is. You theorized, derived, and calculated because that was the only thing you knew how to do.

You died like how you were born... alone.

“Do you understand now?”

It was as if the repressed memories had suddenly come back. Behind your greatness laid an ugly truth. Ignored, forgotten, discarded -- that was what you were.

“Perhaps I have never truly experienced life, but I have accomplished what no one else has. I have found the Philosopher’s Truth!”. Your eyes were bloodshot. “Plato had said that ‘Man was the sum of all things’, Descartes that ‘I think therefore I am’, and Nieztsche that ‘God is dead’. They were WRONG, the truth is simple. Man was created to think and not think. To think is to lose meaning and not to think is to gain meaning. The more you know, the less you do. We are hunters in a dark forest, only blinded by the illumination that accompanies light. We know nothing except the feeling of our bodies and the undergrowth trampled beneath our feet as we venture deeper in. Man was created to be ignorant”.

How close, I thought, but “You still don’t quite understand. Let me show you The Truth.”

I rose, the world changing to a computer screen. It was Tetris, that video game from way back when that you used to play. It would ring: ding, ding, ding as the blocks matched themselves in the proper orientation to connect a row. Squares, rectangles, triangles, raining down around us.

“This is a simulation. You are a simulation. It isn’t real. Those plants on your windowsill are pixels on an iso-lock screen; those particles of oxygen you breathe are vectors in a closed-line system; those stars you see outside are megatripods of data. I’m the creator, and you are lines of code in a program. The truth you discovered is the hollow truth of a man stuck in a box thinking he’s understood something, similar to a clown sealed off by glass that mimics your movements and pretends for a second that he is you. Your truth is without meaning or substance, reality removed from reality. Do you understand now?”.

You were overwhelmed.

“I see that you don’t quite understand yet. This simulation was created for you. That is The Truth. There is nothing special about you except that this world is your playground. Your philosophy is a cruel joke. It’s all a delusion, simulated reality.”

You were quiet.

Your world was collapsing around you.

You didn’t understand. You couldn’t.

I looked at you and saw that you didn’t. It didn’t matter; time was up. I checked my watch, almost time to reset.

“Goodbye, have fun in the next iteration”, I said. Then you were gone.

I felt a little guilty. I had told a white lie; this wasn’t a simulation. This was a spacetime paradox, a time loop that ran over and over and over. I looked outside. Hopefully, I’ve done enough to alter the loop. I checked the time. It matched. I had escaped; it was over. This feeling of being free was exhilarating. I could feel my heart beating so fast it felt as if a herd of elephants were running it over. I was free. Free to leave.

As I left, a screw fell out from my watch. The dial began ticking counter-clockwise. From a distance, You smiled.

Time distorted. Then I was here. I checked my watch.

“Come, let me take you on a journey.”

Sometimes, you think, it’s hard being future you.

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