I have many ideas for blog posts but there are only so many I can do and research. Here are just a few that I’ve wanted to do but haven’t found the time. Posts about
- The polymath Isaac Asimov
- The physician and philosopher Albert Schweitzer
- Rousseau on self-love
- Whether it was worth it to become educated
- How enclosed we are in our thoughts, seeing the world mostly from our perspective.
- A theory of time
I’ll stop as the list could continue for a long time. I literally have almost 100 drafts of posts in my drafts folder. But there could be a million or a billion or a trillion. The sliver of things I can contemplate and experience is so limited. (I’m always struck by how much there is to learn and so little time to do it in.)
But even were I to be able to instantly download all human knowledge there is still so much I wouldn’t know. Suppose I could download all the knowledge of all other intelligent beings in the universe (assuming they exist) my knowledge would still be limited.
But even were I omniscient wouldn’t there still be things I wouldn’t know? After all, Godel showed that some mathematical propositions are true but can’t be known to be true. And if I know the velocity of a sub-atomic particle I can’t know its position and vice versa. So it seems that omniscience probably isn’t a coherent notion. I don’t know what it would mean to know everything. And even if I did, maybe the answer is just 42.
Contemplations like these make me feel lost in a vast universe. But then after a while, the contemplation subsides and life goes on. Here I’m reminded of David Hume,
“Where am I, or what? From what causes do I derive my existence, and to what condition shall I return? … I am confounded with all these questions, and begin to fancy myself in the most deplorable condition imaginable, environed with the deepest darkness, and utterly deprived of the use of every member and faculty.
Most fortunately it happens, that since Reason is incapable of dispelling these clouds, Nature herself suffices to that purpose, and cures me of this philosophical melancholy and delirium, either by relaxing this bent of mind, or by some avocation, and lively impression of my senses, which obliterate all these chimeras. I dine, I play a game of backgammon, I converse, and am merry with my friends. And when, after three or four hours’ amusement, I would return to these speculations, they appear so cold, and strained, and ridiculous, that I cannot find in my heart to enter into them any farther.”