Descartes

January 18, 2013 at 5:57 am (Uncategorized)

I think of Descartes lately. Of the believability of the world around us. How do I know that what I see or hear is real? Not the inanimate objects, no. Trees, plastic, rock, animals, I can believe they’re real. When I shake a tree, its leaves fall, when I microwave a plate, it heats up, when I kick a rock, it follows a more or less predictable path through the air to land some distance away. Predictability, consistency. That is why I can believe in their existence. But humans? No. Strictly speaking, nobody can be trusted. The human mind is truly powerful, because it can override, amplify or dampen any instinctive response. It can admit or deny anything without regard for the truth of the statement. And who decides what is truth? Unless everything is converted to an absolute numerical scale, all that we are expressing is opinion. As long as most people share your opinion, all is well and good. As long as your significant other shares your opinion, all is well and good. The best we can hope for is that those opinions don’t change. The important ones shouldn’t. But we convey our opinions through words and actions, both of which are under the control of the mind, which can lie, or tell half-truth, or truth which later becomes untruth. When you cannot trust that the opinions others are sharing are consistent, what are you left with? Yourself, alone, to bear the full force of the consequences of any action. And if I lived on love and goodwill, if the compliments I paid are paid for, I wouldn’t trust me. I may like me, but it is easy to like and be liked. Capisce?

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