Primacy of Existence

Existence is everything that exists. Consciousness is the faculty which perceives that which exists. Two contending fundamental premises that direct the course of Philosophy in opposite directions, depending on which one accepts as the truth, are: “Primacy of Existence” vs “Primacy of Consciousness”. ie., the claim that “Existence is an absolute, which exists independent of any consciousness” vs the claim that “Consciousness is an absolute, which can exist independent of existence”.

Philosophical theories that propose to abandon reason, either outright, or which sanction mysticism after reaching a point of enquiry,—including theistic theories— are structured on the primacy of consciousness, and all such theories are false, because the premise is false.

Since consciousness is the faculty which perceives that which exists, it cannot exist independent of that, which it perceives. ie., to claim a content-less state of consciousness is a contradiction in terms. To be conscious is to be conscious of something. To claim that consciousness can be conscious of nothing but itself is also a contradiction in terms. Because, to be conscious of itself, it must first be conscious of existence other than itself: an act through which consciousness acquires its content and identity. ie., it is the fact of existence which makes the fact of consciousness possible, not the other way around.

By the time consciousness becomes aware of its own existence, the knowledge is implicitly available to consciousness: that its perception is not a necessary condition for existence of that which exists—that existence exists, independent of whether any consciousness exists to perceive it or not. 

In this context, a similarity can be observed between the organisms possessing consciousness and digital computer systems. The organism’s sensory system can be compared to the hardware components, while the consciousness is comparable to the software/operating code, which derives its content from the external world, through the hardware. The fallacy one perpetrates in claiming the “primacy of consciousness” is similar in nature to the fallacy of claiming that software can exist independent of external world, and that it is software which makes the external world—including the hardware— possible, while the reverse is the truth.

– Avinash Kumar.