Monday, May 16, 2011
Up the garden path
As I said at the outset, I shy away from—in fact I shun—any system of thinking that claims to be superior to the rest: Philosophy, Scientific Method, Religion and the like. Yes, I will use them, but not exclusively. I’d rather to go for the grok. An idea has got to sit right, feel right, and heft nicely in a way that I can accept totally. It’s like when you test an unknown plant to see if it is edible; you rub it on your skin or hold it in your mouth to see if it provokes an allergic reaction. If it doesn’t, then you proceed a little further.
The scientific way, they say, to verify or disprove a hypothesis is by carrying out replicable work. Instead, I choose to perform thought experiments. They are cheap, quick, and they work. What I’d like to do is to walk you through a few that I’ve conducted. We’ve already looked at three, from which I concluded:
1. I am immortal
2. I am very, very special . . . yet utterly limited
3. I am not confined to my body
Quite a heady philosophical brew for a boy not yet in his teens, wouldn’t you agree?
I’ll now dig out a few more, re-examine their results, and build from there. We’ll see what the consequences and corollaries are. Finally, I’ll describe what I deduce as their implications, and maybe close off with a question and answer session. How does that sound?
Though this seems like a logical and sensible plan, it’ll be messy. I can’t lead you along a well-thought out progression. Along my path there are no easy, clear-cut steps. There isn’t a wheelchair-accessible slope that leads you to a coherent and comprehensive (and comprehensible) overview. My history isn’t like that. It is still being written, in fact, as I write.
The order of these thought experiments will be roughly chronological, but they do not work seamlessly. I don’t have a firm, fixed destination, and I don’t have much of a game plan. I engage in this exercise for myself as much as for others, so I share your curiosity about what will develop. A machete? Yes, we might need one. Bring it along.