Monday, August 17, 2009

I Don't Believe In A Place Called "China"

I am testing out some thoughts I have which result from a conversation I had today:

I've never been to China. I've never been anywhere closer than thousands of miles away from China. However I have read words about the country and its history; I have seen pictures of the landmass we have labeled China; I have seen videos and artifacts that claim to be from China; I have met people from this place, all of whom speak a different language than me. Although I have never been to China, I am fairly confident that the area with this name exists.

But does China's existence depend on either my knowledge or experience of it?

Has China existed throughout history, even when people didn't have access to the same kind of evidence I have now? What if I never lived in China or met anyone who has lived there, Chinese or any other ethnicity? What if I never met a Chinese person? What if I have never seen a video or an artifact from there? Would it still exist? What about never seeing pictures or a map? What about never reading a word about China?

Is the existence of China--or anything for that matter--predicated on my knowledge of it, whether that knowledge be intellectual, experiential, or both?

Given what we do know, what if I were to go to someone stranded on a desert island and try to convince him or her that China existed, but all I could use were my own words? Would that person be justified in rejecting my claim that China existed?

These are a few of the many questions I have as I wrestle through this idea of existence. I would really love to know what you think. I will engage in any comments posted only if I have more questions, but I will stray from pushing any sort of personal agenda. Feel the freedom to write whatever you want, even if derogatory. I will only be slightly offended.


  1. ooh.. The presence or absence of China being something independent of the act of observation, reminds me of Schrödinger's cat. :) Way to get my mind toiling before bed.

  2. That's why I'm here brother. To randomly get your mind going from time to time...haha.

    I hope you're doing well these days!