“Let’s think the unthinkable, let’s do the undoable. Let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all.”
― Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency
Fiji does not exist. Therein lies the problem, and the solution if we may quell the exasperation of our inner voices. “Of course it exists.” Say the affronted masses, willing to bet their lives on the existence of a place they’ve never been to, but assure me, “They know people who have.”
And really, this is a fair argument. I have even met some who’ve claimed to have been to the small island-nation. I always tell them all the same thing, “I believe that you believe you’ve been to a place that is merely a phantom of reality.” He scrunch-up their faces, one and all, at my pertinacity.
The object of doubt is not nearly as important as the doubt itself; this is the takeaway from my crusade against Fiji. The place of fictitious existence is tantamount to the fact that I have uncovered very little evidence that Fiji exists. To you, this may be Poland, Neverland or a wing of your home you do not currently inhabit. Fiji is merely a placeholder–or rather, not a placeholder–for the real root of the problem at hand.
The problem is how vehemently the human mind clings to the construct of Fiji. Some would never dare say it does not exist since their is a wikipedia page dedicated to its nearly 900,000 residents. Fiji has–apparently–an economy, a government and even a national sport, rugby. I, as a Canadian, only know Fiji through the internet, its social acceptance and the scarce testimony of those who’ve claimed to have been there.
That’s not nearly enough to prove existence.
Firstly, the internet is a problem. It would be simple enough for create multiple websites dedicated to the idea of Fiji. I could write the paragraphs of testimony on Wikipedia taken from my own mind. I could even go ahead and fabricate the supposed citations. I could write the cited books under pen-names if need-be. While time-consuming, this is not outside the wheelhouse of a single person’s capabilities.
Second, the problem of social acceptance. If you were to ask most rational, sensible people, they would agree that Fiji certainly does exist. The island in question has people who are there, being Fijian, living a Fijian lifestyle and generally doing what Fijians do. The number of people who will swear to the existence of Fiji is huge. In fact, you could probably get more people to agree to the existence of Fiji than the existence of God.
These same people would probably claim to have “facts” on their side. They can see it on a map, this is a fact. They can visit it’s national website. True enough. They know someone who has been their. Something that I cannot defend against. All of the things are facts in the black-and-white sense of the word.
However, still, my faith in Fiji wanes. I have doubt, as Descartes might say.
While it is reasonable–although highly unlikely–that someone could create propaganda claiming the existence of Fiji through wikipedia and other outlets, what could be said about first-hand experience?
According to Dunbar’s Number, I can only have meaningful relationships with a ceiling of 150 people.
Also, as an aside, I am aware of the fact that I am using Wikipedia to bolster an opinion that conflicts with the use of Wikipedia as a basis for existence. However, in my defence, to not do so will only decay into a endless pit of epistemic crises. This is ultimately the point. However, rhetoric, here, will only serve to confuse the problem. Let is be known that the acceptance of Dunbar’s Number is merely a gateway to understanding another problem (just as is the acceptance of the existence of Fiji, as will be discussed below), and not an instance of inconsistent scholarship.
So according to Dunbar’s Number, my cognitive understanding of people is limited to 150 people. This might mean that my acceptance of their testimony is also limited to 150 people. However, I would argue that the faith in testimony is far beyond that, given I have no reason to distrust the testimony of an individual I have no relationship with. This is the trust-contract one may enter into when asking for directions, for example, from a stranger on the street.
With this in mind, let’s extend trusted testimony to the tidy number to 500 individuals within the scope of a single person’s world-view. More simply, I can trust the testimony of nearly 500 people directly without the interference of obvious nefarious intention from the testifier.
I can reasonably accept that I can understand and retain the testimony from at least 500 people–all of which swear Fiji exists. This, in a macro-sense, is the proof of social acceptance. The idea that, “Not all of those people can be wrong, so therefore, is must be right.”
This is where the existence of Fiji finds most of its supporters. Social acceptance bolstered by created literature on the subject (internet-based or otherwise), perpetuated by first-hand, supposed eye-witness testimony Fiji.
Here we can begin to see how the existence of Fiji rests atop eye-witness testimony and not social acceptance or even created “factual” literature of the place in question. The existence of Fiji (or anywhere else, really) rests on the testimony of the senses of the testifier, and not rational, matter-of-fact evidence, like the existence of self might have, for example.
Now my lack of acceptance of Fiji does not come from a simple distrust in human senses. This is a discussion for myriad other papers on the subject. Furthermore, the intricacies of epistemic fallacy through the short-comings of the senses is just outside my mind’s capabilities. To ask the reader, here, to rest on the problems of sensical testimony would not bolster my argument against the existence of Fiji, but would instead harm the narrative of my argument for two reasons: first, asking the reader to distrust their senses is again, a vacuous argument that quickly decays into distrust of everything, including the words read on the subject in the moment, and secondly, this only confuses the argument while also pleading to an argument that is just too basic and mundane.
Put simply, we can’t really trust our senses, but this is something we all share. We do not all share a disbelief in Fiji, so how else can to inject distrust in its existence?
For this, I go back to my inflated idea of Dunbar’s Number.
It is not unreasonable to suggest that someone, somewhere has stake in the existence of Fiji. Someone, along the line of human relationships and interconnectivity has something to gain from a mass, fictitious belief in the island-nation Fiji. This is a reasonable assumption because the mass belief of the existence of Fiji exists. If this belief did not exist, then this article would be moot from lack subject matter. Fiji exists in our minds, so therefore, it must have a reason to.
Some would argue that the reason it exists in our minds is because it exists in reality. However, I fail to see the evidence of such and furthermore, the possible gains to be had by one individual (possibly) on the fictitious existence of Fiji cannot be ignored. If one can gain something from a fictitious existence, the justification for this must be investigated. The alternative–Fiji does not exist–must be accepted in the absence of a just cause.
This may fall into the realm of solipsism–the belief that something or someplace exists only for the benefit of a single person’s world-view. This could be true; Fiji could exist in our minds collectively in order to satisfy an unknown need in some unknown individual’s mind. And herein lies my main problem with the existence of Fiji.
It is reasonable to assume that the “supposed” existence of Fiji is necessary for only one person. Perhaps this person needs a place to fantasize about, like Truman in the film, The Truman Show. Without such a fantasy, their life begins to deteriorate, they become depressed, suicidal and eventually self-terminate, for example. This may lead to decay of cosmic occurrences that would have otherwise existed since the individual (who necessarily thrives on the idea of Fiji) may act conduit for. They no longer exist because the mass-idealism that facilitates the existence of Fiji (again, an example, this could be anywhere, or anyone) only exists to cater to a single individual who creates another ideal that serves another and so on ad. infinitum.
To be clear, I do not think I am the person that needs to Fiji to exist. I can also not say that I am not. However, this idea, that Fiji exists only as testimony lends itself to doubting its existence and the existence of everything else related to it–perhaps the physical rules that keep our atoms together, for example.
This is why, I cannot trust anyone who claims Fiji exists. Even Fijians.