Sunday, July 11, 2010

Feeling philosophical

There is a staggering and insidious arrogance that is indigenous to the human condition. Staggering because its scope and ambition are so great, insidious because its origins are so inseparable from the experience of being human.

Humans have an incredible ability to predict and control the world around us. It has gotten better and better over time- our knowledge of the way the world works has become increasingly robust, and our ability to leverage this knowledge to meet our own ends has enabled technological development that could have never been imagined by even our great grandparents- very near relatives given the scale of human history.

Utilization of this wondrous facility of human comprehension is not in itself arrogant. Rather, it is the assumption that is implicit in human thought- "Because so much of the world around can be broken down and understood in measurable and predictable ways, it is possible to reduce the entire universe and all of human experience into measurable and predictable truths".

This, tragically, turns into a desperate struggle for control. When the operational assumption is that everything is governed by absolute processes, be they scientific or Godly, and that it is possible to know them, the temptation to strive to master them is nearly irresistible. Complete knowledge should logically lead to complete control.

Somewhere Frodo is hiking with a ring...

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