10. Big Freeze
The “Big Freeze” is how scientists theorize that the universe is going to end. It’s a known fact that the universe has a fixed amount of energy in it, so theory states that the universe will start to slow down once this energy begins to run out. This energy is in the form of heat because heat is produced by the movement of energy particles. A gradual slowdown of this movement would eventually come to a complete stop, thus ending the universe.
According to solipsism, nothing can be verified except the existence of the mind. Although it seems rather silly at first, the truth is that it’s impossible to verify the existence of anything at all except your own consciousness. Consider all the plausible dreams you’ve ever had in your life for a moment. Couldn’t it be possible that everything you’ve ever seen in your life is nothing more than an elaborate dream? You’d counter by saying that you have family and friends’ existence can be verified by touching them, but then again people who have taken acid, for example, report seeing (and touching) their hallucinations. No assumption is made that these are real!
Idealism is the belief that all things exist purely in a person’s mind. George Berkely, the famous idealist philosopher, had his ideas rebuked by a man who closed his eyes, kicked a stone and told him: “I refute it thus”. The point was that if the stone only existed in his mind, he wouldn’t have been able to kick it. Berkeley’s refutation of what the man told him was a little worrying when viewed from a modern perspective – he said that there was an all-powerful and omnipresent God who perceived everyone and everything simultaneously.
7. Plato and the Logos
Plato is arguably the most famous philosopher in human history. He claimed that a world of perfect “forms” exists in addition to the world that we’re all familiar with, adding that all of the things we see around us are merely shadows of them. Furthermore, he said that studying philosophy would allow people to catch glimpses of the original things. Plato also stated that everything in this world is made out of a single substance. Modern science has found that this theory isn’t actually too far from the truth.
Time is something that we take for granted, but “presentist” philosophers argue that there’s neither a past nor a future – just the present exists at any one time. According to one great Buddhist scholar, Fyodor Shcherbatskoy: “Everything past is unreal, everything future is unreal, everything imagined, absent, mental . . . is unreal. . . . Ultimately real is only the present moment of physical efficiency.”
In sharp contrast to presentism, as outlined above, the philosophical theory of eternalism states that time actually has many different layers, comparable to a sponge cake. All of the layers exist at the same time, but a given layer that’s seen by an observer is wholly dependent on where he is standing (perspective). In other words, the Second World War and Lady Gaga exist at the same time, but they can only be viewed from certain points. This view leads to a hopelessly deterministic future. In addition, free will is nothing more than an illusion.
4. Brain in the Vat
Imagine for a moment that human beings are nothing more than brains in vats, with our perceptions being manipulated by aliens or evil scientists. The truth is that we have no way of disproving this. This notion is a modern spin on the Evil Demon problem, as thought up by the French philosopher, René Descartes. He too theorized that we cannot prove the existence of anything other than our consciousness. The Matrix trilogy of movies is based on this notion, but sadly, there’s no way to “red pill” ourselves in real life.
3. Multiverse Theory
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade, you’re bound to have heard of the multiverse or parallel universe theory. The theoretical parallel worlds that make up this theory are said to be very much like ours, albeit with minor differences. According to the theory, there is an infinite amount of these parallel worlds or universes. The implications for us are that you might have already been killed by dinosaurs in one world, whereas you might be a powerful dictator with the moral compass of Kim Jong Un in another, and so on and so forth.
2. Fictional Realism
Fictional realism is an extension of the multiverse theory and an exciting one at that. It theorizes that a fictional character such as Superman could actually exist in another universe, as could many other superheroes and fictional characters.
If you’ve ever wondered what happens to things behind your back, philosophers have come to the simple conclusion that they vanish – or not quite. Phenomenalist philosophers believe that things only exist as far as they can be perceived. In other words, your cheese sandwich for lunch only exists if you know that it exists. This implies that a tree falling in a deserted forest, for instance, with no-one around to hear it or see it doing so, doesn’t actually exist at all. No perception = no existence according to phenomenalism.