In response to the following post:
The Ultimate Aim of a Human Being (click)
I had seen pics clicked by you on Insignia's blog, and something made me make it a point to visit your blog. Am super-glad I did. :)
You have here asked some questions that are so fundamental to our existence, that to try to answer them from authority would be indulge in brainwashing.
Right now, I am short of time. But I will still try to answer a few questions, from what I feel and know, so obviously they are not the perfect answers. Some of the things I want to state would be in form of my posts or comments elsewhere. I will also refer you to some of my favorite blogs.
But just as you have somewhat doubted, I wanted to draw your attention to this philosophical trap that if reality is something that is indeed beyond the scope of our five senses, even then we would be able to know it. No! We cannot know it, if it is beyond the fives senses.
Let me try to add a few more factors. When we talk of five senses, actually we should also include the various extensions of our senses. Like, the electron microscope. You seem to be well read in (formal) philosophy as compared to average persons (and, if not, then I admire the intelligence behind your thougth processes even more). The sum total of all our five senses and their extensions is our "sensing system". Nothing that is absolutely static can ever be detected. Meaning, we come to know of any reality because something "changes". In physiology, a change in the environment is known as a stimulus. [photon - eyes, vibration - ears, repulsion at microscopic level, which changes the potential energy of the receptor - touch and pressure, etc.]. And invariably, that change is some change in energy. If we move from this assumption, that everything that exists will affect the Universe in some way, then it has to produce a change in energy. And it should be possible to detect this change in energy. This was briefly what we call "naturalism". But if one were to hypothesize that there is something that actually exists, but is so static that it does not produce any change in our environment, meaning it does not translate into a stimulus, then we cannot detect it. Now, upfron one cannot deny such a possibility. But then how would it ever be possible to assign a truth value to such an assertion?
So, in rigorous philosophy (in a branch called epistemology), it is conventionally believed that for a theory to be regarded as "true" it also has to be falsifiable. Meaning if one says that "object 'A' exists", then one has to also state that would be the consequeces of existence of such an object. If one states that its existence would have no consequence (its inherent static-ness), then it follows that there is no way such a claim could be falsified. So, at least for philosophical purposes, such assertions are excluded from the possibility of being truths.
But there exists a very large fraction of people who are also interested in learning the truth, who believe that just because something cannot be detected by the sum total of five senses, does not mean such a thing (object A) does not exist. This is known as "supernaturalism" as against naturalism. You could read about Russel's teapot on Wikipedia.
Right now I could not find the relevant post, but you could find very interesting posts on this blog. For convenience, wherever word God finds place replace it with the generic object A that is not accessible to our senses or their extensions.
Anyway, so I am not sure if it is actually possible to achieve self realization (assuming I have accurately understood what you mean by it is being able to know the absolute truth). So, whether self realization is possible or not depends upon, which of the two above modes of accepting something as truth do you prefer. If you believe there is a supernatural realm that definitely exists (as against the mere possibility of its existence, then you are dooming yourself to remain devoid of self-realization, because if it can be detected by any of the senses then it ceases to be supernatural!!! But if you assume that what is supernatural is as good as nonexistent, then there is still some hope that someday all that is to be known would be known (through the most developed faculty involving naturalism, called science).
You would find a few of my personal takes behind the driving forces for living and evading death here (starting from first comment by Harshad Srinivasan):
Of course, I have dealt with things there very superficially.
You will find how our perceiving environmental stimuli translates into a feeling of "self", here:
You'll find a few more ideas in these posts:
Lastly, technically, this statement is not correct:
"Well, the truth of the matter is that, if one cannot test something the way we test everything we know, it is not science, it is philosophy."
Because, then it would be fantasy, not philosophy. Unfortunately, philosophy is in daily life is used very differently than what it actually means or stands for. If you get a chance please do go through Encyclopaedia Britannica's artilcle on "epistemology". It was really interesting with example of pencil dipped in water, and how we could/should determine if pencil is actually bent (at the point that it enters the surface of water) or straight.
Subject to a few significant events in my life, I might or might not return to comment here.
Till then, wish you all the best and all the satisfaction that you truly deserve in life. :)