Posts Tagged ‘science’

The power of a beautiful question

April 10, 2016

The thing about the past is it’s not the past. It’s right in this room, in this conversation.

As a child, I had powerful experiences with poetry, where I felt literally abducted (taken away) by poetry; just like a hawk had come down and taken me away in its claws and carried me off.

I remember reading poetry as a child and thinking: this is language written by adults who have not forgotten the primary visions and insights of childhood.

I left science (as a Naturalist in the Galapagos Islands) and went back into poetry because I felt like scientific language wasn’t precise enough to describe the experiences I had in Galapagos. Science rightly is always trying to remove the “I” but I was really interested in the way the “I” deepened the more you paid attention. In Galapagos I was in deeply attentive states, hour after hour watching animals and birds and landscapes. I began to realize that my identity depended not upon any beliefs I had – inherited beliefs or manufactured beliefs – but rather my identity actually depended on how much attention I paid to things other than myself. As my attention deepened, it broadened my own sense of presence. I began to realize that the only things that are real are at this frontier between what you think is you and what you think is not you. Whatever you desire of the world will not come to pass exactly as you like it. But at the same time, whatever the world desires of you will also not come to pass. What actually occurs is at this meeting, this frontier.

David Whyte (poet, philosopher)


Common sense is not common

June 29, 2014

. . . common sense is, as a matter of fact, nothing more than layers of preconceived notions stored in our memories and emotions for the most part before age eighteen. –Albert Einstein

Our common sense, or world view, is not “common” to all people. It is shaped by the culture we inhabit. It is like a pair of glasses few of us ever manage to take off, so of course we see confirmation everywhere we look.

Much of Western intellectual tradition has been inherited from the Greeks. Our science and philosophy in particular are shot through with beliefs and opinions and forms of speech that were once explicit doctrines of Plato, Aristotle, and the like, but have come to be embedded anonymously in the fabric of our thought. Of this embedded material perhaps the most fundamental is logic, the standard by which we judge reasoning to be “correct”.

Is logic itself “correct”? Some Eastern philosophers would call it “ignorance”. I use logic all the time in mathematics, and it seems to yield “correct” results, but in mathematics “correct” by and large means “logical”, so I’m back where I started. I can’t defend logic because I can’t remove my glasses.

Richard J. Trudeau, Introduction to Graph Theory