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The Omniscience of Memory

by Reinarto Hadipriono Sunday, Apr. 17, 2005 at 3:24 AM 62 231 206980 Lemahwungkuk 37, Cirebon - Indonesia

Except for the recallable memory, especially the one in human beings, there is not a single entity in this universe that knows more about the changes taking place in this universe. This is so, because whatever the whole content of the universe is undergoing, it is but a "change of condition." The fact that man has the ability to recall the impressions of the "past condition" recorded in our brain as memory is indeed worth our admiration. If the claim that no other creatures, not even those from outer space, have recallable memory turns out to be true, we are definitely left with no other choice but to accept it as fact that man is the only creature capable of knowing the course of events of the whole content of the universe. Now, who actually is this creature that we call man?

The Omniscience of Memory

If you look up the meaning of the word memory in the Merriam-Webster Online, you will instantly notice that it has several meanings which, among others, are:

1: the store of things learned and retained from an organism's activity or experience as evidenced by modification of structure or behavior or by recall and recognition

2: the fact or condition of being remembered 3: a particular act of recall or recollection 4: an image or impression of one that is remembered 5: the time within which past events can be or are remembered 6: a device or a component of a device in which information especially for a computer can be inserted and stored and from which it may be extracted when wanted

Obviously the general idea underlying all these meanings is that memory has a lot to do with the presence of conditions, both external and internal to our body, that influence our brain and leave their traces as impressions. You can at any time recall those impressions and by so doing you will, on recollection, instantly say that they are the things that have ever happened. Let’s now take a quick look at some common condition into which some of you may not have had the opportunity to explore.

When we throw a ball from points A to B, for instance, we tend to say that the ball was at point A. Does this not mean that at the time the ball was at point A, the rays reflected by the ball left an impression or were recorded in our brains, and that it is this impression or record that we are trying to retrace or to recall at the present? Another example: When we move from our original location (say location A) to another location (say location B), we are apt to say—at the time we get to B—we were at A just now. The only reason for this is that, at the time we were at A, all our senses received a variety of stimuli from our surroundings, and these are stored in our brains as memory. At the time we get to B, we recall them, which consequently leads us to say that we were at A just now. Similarly, when we are driving from one particular place to another, we will, for a similar reason, habitually say that we were at that particular place at the time we get to our destination. Now, what if we assume our earth to be a kind of vehicle? Is it not a fact that the earth rotates around its axis and that we are but objects that have remained stuck on the earth’s crust following the earth wherever it goes? The earth takes us with it as it rotates such that we are able to feel the presence of day and night. At the time we are brought from one position to another by the earth’s rotation, we record a series of conditions, which, when recalled, leads us to say that in “the past” we experienced such and such a condition. Quite surprisingly, however, at all those “moments,” either the ones that we are experiencing or the ones we are recalling, we have always felt that we are at or undergoing things at the present. At the time of recalling we assume that “the past” exists, though in reality we have never felt or experienced the presence of that “past.” Does it ever occur to you that at the time you are reading the sentences above you feel that you are at “the present,” and that even when you start thinking that you have just read the sentences above, you are in fact also doing it at “the present”? It is as if we have, since our childhood, always experienced “the present.” Even a photograph of the past is no indication of the presence of the past, because what is considered the past, which is immortalized by the photograph, is a mere assumption we make at the present. Physically speaking, the photograph itself is in its present condition, though it may have by now been discolored, or faded. We feel that we have “a past” only because the past condition leaves a trace in our brains.

Is it true that what man calls the “future” is but a mere result of his ability to recall the memories of the previous condition that is imprinted in his brain? Is it not the common knowledge of all, particularly those who live within the equatorial regions that we experience day and night alternately every day? Obviously, it is the very fact that after the morning comes the afternoon, and then comes the night, after which we have the morning again and so on, that has caused these constantly changing routines to be so strongly recorded as our memory. And it is this very fact too that makes it very easy for us to recall at any time the presence of the “sequenced conditions.” The fact that we have quite often kept saying such words as “later,” “after that,” “tomorrow,” is proof enough that those conditions are so well preserved in our brains as impressions that we find it very easy to recall them. Thus, it is very natural if we insist that such things as “the future” or “tomorrow” do exist. As such, it could thus be said that all those plans for tomorrow are but an imagination added to the outcome of the recollection of “the presence of tomorrow.” If, for instance, we say that we are going to New York City tomorrow, what actually occurs is that an imagination is being created at present of our going there tomorrow. This is so because our idea that there is “a tomorrow” has already been recorded in our brain, and we can recall it. However, since conditions keep changing and we continue to exist, we inevitably pass the night condition. During the time we are in our night condition, we tend to condition ourselves for our sleeping condition. Eventually, we arrive at our morning condition, that is, the time set for us to leave for New York. This is something that we experience daily in our life. Nevertheless, because we have the ability to recall the custom of having a tomorrow, we can at that time imagine what we expect to ensue the next day. Obviously, all these have been made possible because we are able to recall the memories that had once been stored in our brain, or we have been able to condition our selves into a position where we can relate our thoughts to the memories stored in our brain. In sum it could then be said that all those talks about “the past” and “the future” have been made possible only because “previous conditions” have left traces in our brain, which at the time of their “recollection” has enabled us to feel all “the past” that we had once gone through, and all “the future” following it.

Now, if “the past” and “the future” are but things that exist only in our memory, what then are we to say about our condition in its truest sense? Let’s try to ponder on this for a while. Is it not a fact that at any stage of your life, between your childhood years and the present, you always feel that you are constantly at the present? Even at this very moment when you are reading these words, you feel that you are at the present. Hours later, after you get out of your seat and start to move around you’ll still feel that you are at the present. Why is that? It is this very condition of the earth that man discovered and which is later stated as the first law of thermodynamics or the law of mass and energy conservation, that is, that nothing is ever added to and nothing is ever subtracted from the universe. By implication, the whole content of the universe exists eternally, and as thus, whatever it undergoes, it is all but a change of condition. All objects in this universe, be they plants, animals, or human beings, are formed from the same basic matter, i.e. the sub-atomic particles, which are always present in this universe. Even if it is true that the content of the universe—as is stated by the second law of thermodynamics— is steadily “deteriorating”, the claim that the whole content of the universe is constantly undergoing changes still remains unaffected.

An object that is seen to have changed its form, or be totally destroyed, or be completely burnt to ashes loses neither its sub-atomic particles nor its energy. What’s really happening is just a change of the composition of its sub-atomic particles. It is for this very reason that man, being made up of the “always present” basic matter, feels that he is “always present” or always at the “present time” for as long as he lives. On his death he will, of course, no longer feel his very existence as a “unity” of the always present basic matter—a union that develops correspondingly to his life process. Because the whole content of the universe is constantly subject to changes of condition, man, being made up of the same basic matter, must therefore inevitably feel these changes too. By now you have perhaps come to understand why man always feels that he is constantly at “the present” and constantly subject to the various “changes of condition.” Of course every combination of the basic matter has its own distinctive characteristics. The same thing holds true for man. With his particular combination, supplemented by the presence of his life process, he thus has qualities that are unique to him. The very fact that he has the ability to store as recallable memory all those impressions of any condition that he has gone through represents a distinctive trait that assumedly only he has. If this proves to be true, man must then be unarguably the only creature that knows most about the course of events of this universe. Now, what are we to say if it so happens that there are also other creatures that are capable of doing the same? Certainly those creatures must have recallable memory then. If such is the case, there is still nothing wrong with our claiming that memory is omniscient, right? Naturally, for those who believe in the presence of God, such omniscience of the memory cannot in any sense be compared to the omniscience of God. That’s why we have entitled this article The Omniscience of Memory.

By Reinarto Hadipriono

Quoted and developed from the philanthropic book The Omniscience of Memory.



As this is a philanthropic manuscript, anyone is at liberty to quote from it and have the quotes disseminated through any form of media whatsoever as long as he/she clearly states the name of its author. The display of the copyright here serves to remind those who wish to quote from this article, either partly or wholly, to make clear mention of the writer.

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Omniscience. Jaap den Haan. Sunday, Apr. 17, 2005 at 12:13 PM

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