How to annihilate everything

Does reality get on your nerves? Do you sometimes wish there was nothing at all? Then this is the post for you! Read on, and I’ll show you how to prune your ontology down to nothing. It’s easy and won’t harm anyone or anything. Ready?

Let’s start by clearing out the attic. We’ll throw out abstract objects and universals, together with mathematical objects and structures. We’ll get rid of possible worlds too — the actual one is more than enough! And we can manage without God, can’t we? In fact, let’s get rid of everything supernatural while we’re at it.

It’s already feeling less stuffy. But we need to live more in the moment. Let’s let go of the past — and the future with it. Only the present moment exists.

We’ve made good progress. But scientists keep cluttering the place up with things we can’t even see. We’ll put a stop to that! We’ll be scientific anti-realists, at least as regards things we can’t see for ourselves.

That feels better. But there’s still a lot left. There’s the Earth and the solar system and all the visible universe. It’s too much. Let’s be idealists and put it all in our minds. But what sort of idealists? We could be transcendental idealists — sweep it all under the noumenal carpet and focus on our representations of it. But it would all still be there, taunting us with its unknowable reality. No, let’s do it properly and be empirical idealists, like Berkeley. There’s no material world at all; only ideas of it in our minds.

Now we’re getting somewhere! Let’s see — what have we got left? Just our minds and their contents and the present moment. But it still feels crowded. There are billions of minds here, each with its own set of perceptions and thoughts. What we need is solipsism — the powerful metaphysical kind. There aren’t any other minds; just this one here and its one set of ideas.

That’s better. No abstractions, no past, no future, no space, no matter, no other minds, only the momentary existence of this one self and its ideas. In fact, let’s get rid of the self as well. All that exists is this momentary bundle of thoughts and perceptions.

Right. We’re nearly there. Nothing exists beyond this mental moment right here and now. Do you want to take the last step? Are you ready to annihilate the whole of reality?

You are? OK. Get somewhere quiet. Close your eyes. Block your ears. Now, breathe gently, and just … let … your … mind … go … blank.

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