Usefulness and Value
Dear David, I had to think long and hard about this. But, not because of the difficulty of thought experiments or which ones are particularly so, but because they are not a part of what I regularly engage in. I was even a bit hard pressed to come up with one I remembered.
I love thinking, and to me, an absolutely vital and much-prized part of my psychology and thinking which I particularly love is toThink-Things-Through-To-The-End. Umm, actually it’s more like I have to. I can’t leave thinking unfinished. Those are my thought experiments.
Thinking all the way to the end does not always necessarily mean resolution, solution or similar. It simply means taking a line of thought as far as it can go. Often this starts as something unresolved. Those particularly grab me. I can’t let go until I find Resolution. Which brings me back to your question of thought experiments.
Re-Living as a Choice
Here’s one of my thought experiments I come back to often: How would we set things up in such a way as to force ourselves to learn, to force ourselves to Develop and Enhance our Awareness using what we have learned in life in another go-round? Why this particular setup because it makes sense of and fits the available data and experience, which otherwise doesn’t. The thought experiment is not about hypotheticals, as most are, but about taking the existing facts of circumstance and finding an explanation that fits.
For instance, specific predilections.We could put these down to genetics. But if there is now history of such behaviour or likes, it becomes difficult to ascribe to such sources. But, we could say, could be, because we just don’t have access to detailed information regarding our ancestors. But what about predilections which are precise, specific, detailed. Which do not make sense in terms of any possible genetic factors since they are too precise, too specific. Which do not even make sense in terms of our youth, but come into play in later life. Then the sense of it falls into place. How would such factors be explained?
Instead of relating a mountain of personal detail which would need a book, I’d rather like to go to the end and work from there. Assume a hypothesis to be true and then see how well it fits. See what it implies, what it means, and most of all, see how we can extract Value and Usefulness from our position. That’s the key. That’s why I am not a particular fan of typical thought experiments, they need to result in Applicable usefulness and value to me.
“Without Application, it’s all meaningless.“
So, what’s the proposition, the idea with my thought experiment? It’s that somehow, we get to carry-over what we learned in this life to another. But, there are complicating factors. We have to decide what’s useful. There’s a limited amount we can bring with us. Why, because if we retained full memory, especially memory that this mechanism exists, we’d be effectively immortal, and we’d lose the power of Death as a motivator.
Being immortal could easily result in a perpetual and entrenched indolence and apathy. There’s no need, so why bother? Thus specific memories are out. The same applies for inventions and knowledge that are time-sensitive. Since the do-over or repeat might not be in sequential time, or may even be a time loop, if we “knew” stuff we had no business knowing, that could give the game away. Any fore-knowledge would fall into that category.
Patience, discipline, forbearance, discernment, understanding, insight, and of course the most important of all, Awareness, those are Valuable and Useful in any time, in any circumstance, in any life. When we consider what we are, who we are, what qualities and Character traits we came with, especially if we look carefully how we started, what sensibilities and understandings we had before we had opportunity to acquire them via experience, we start to see our life from an entirely new perspective. One that opens up many new possibilities.
If we assume we came to be in this life because of some sort of choice, a choice which came from our sensibilities, from who we are, and more specifically, we are in this life for a very specific reason: because we need to learn. We need to learn specifically what we ourselves know we need to learn. Considering this, it opens up the possibility that perhaps we chose the circumstances of our birth, because these would leverage us, force us, put us in the best position to learn what our Deep-Self needs to learn.
Like for instance, say we come to realise toward the end of the last go-round, after much soul-searching and finally coming to an honest awareness about ourselves, that we are a raging narcissist, might we not then perhaps choose narcissist parents? There are many options of course, but, if we feel that we need to see the detriments from early on, most thoroughly and clearly so as to put us completely off any idea of narcissism or ego, this would be a strategically valuable choice.
Benefit Either Way
Here’s the thing. My thought experiment may seem fanciful, far-fetched, unrealistic, and it could very well be, but that matters little to me. I can extract Value and Usefulness whether it’s true or not. Living as-if it’s true has great benefit. It makes for a life focused on acquiring the qualities of Good Character, and those, as we have established, are Valuable and Useful in any circumstance, including the here and now. Focusing on the abstract values of life enables us to enjoy, be happy, and to be enabled.
With those qualities, we have the fundamental tools to acquire what we need. if we have the underlying qualities that enable learning, we can do anything, learn what’s needed. But without being able to learn, and I mean from an attitudinal, mindset perspective, it doesn’t matter how much we technically are capable of learning, bad character will get in the way.
Well, I could go on about my thought experiment, but to keep it short, and to answer your question, to me the thought experiment I wrestle with most is the one of resolving the mystery of our existence from the perspective of making all the anomalous facts of our being fit. It’s to me all about resolving all the conundrums that comprise our particular individualises. You could call it the thought-experiment of Self-Discovery.
It’s particularly hard or impossible, because we’ll only know for sure via Death, and then it could all turn out to be fanciful nonsense, and that’s a chance I am not willing to take, so it leverages me to make the most of Life and Learning in the meantime, and to prepare as best I can, just in case.
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About the Columnist
A Contemporary Philosopher and Writer, who exercises a glorious intellectual mind that is most admirable for its profundity and sharpness. Often offering multiple sides of an argument, and provoking self-introspection. Their aim is to uncover Appropriateness, Awareness, Attention, Application, Attunement, and more, with a unique, high-level understanding of the profound intricacies that interlace these concepts.
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