He laughed softly. Thinking about the Ceremony again, Juniswap eth dmgonas? he teased himself. But he suspected that with the date so near, probably all of his friends were, too.
"I've read that, actually."bitcoin core online"Don't you feel you know something about the author just by reading his book?"
"I realize there is a person who wrote it.""Is that all you know about him?""He seems to care about outsiders.""When you read this book--which is Steinbeck's creation--you get to know something about Steinbeck's nature as well. But you cannot expect to get any personal information about the author. Could you tell from reading Of Mice and Men how old the author was when he wrote it, where he lived, or how many children he had?""Of course not."
"But you can find this information in a biography of John Steinbeck. Only in a biography--or an autobiography--can you get better acquainted with Steinbeck, the person.""That's true.""But even in everyday life we use complex ideas without stopping to wonder whether they are valid. For example, take the question of T--or the ego. This was the very basis of Descartes's philosophy. It was the one clear and distinct perception that the whole of his phi-losophy was built on."
"I hope Hume didn't try to deny that I am me. He'd be talking off the top of his head.""Sophie, if there is one thing I want this course to teach you, it's not to jump to conclusions.""Sorry. Go on.""No, why don't you use Hume's method and analyze what you perceive as your 'ego.' "
"First I'd have to figure out whether the ego is a single or a complex idea.""And what conclusion do you come to?"
"I really have to admit that I feel quite complex. I'm very volatile, for instance. And I have trouble making up my mind about things. And I can both like and dislike the same people.""In other words, the 'ego concept' is a 'complex idea.' ""Okay. So now I guess I must figure out if I have had a corresponding 'complex impression' of my own ego. And I guess I have. I always had, actually.""Does that worry you?"
"I'm very changeable. I'm not the same today as I was when I was four years old. My temperament and how I see myself alter from one minute to the next. I can suddenly feel like I am a 'new person.' ""So the feeling of having an unalterable ego is a false perception. The perception of the ego is in reality a long chain of simple impressions that you have never experienced simultaneously. It is 'nothing but a bundle or collection of different perceptions, which succeed one another with an inconceivable rapidity, and are in a perpetual flux and movement,' as Hume expressed it. The mind is 'a kind of theater, where several perceptions successively make their appearance; pass, re-pass, slide away, and mingle in an infinite variety of postures and situations.' Hume pointed out that we have no underlying 'personal identity' beneath or behind these perceptions and feelings which come and go. It is just like the images on a movie screen. They change so rapidly we do not register that the film is made up of single pictures. In reality the pictures are not connected. The film is a collection of instants.""I think I give in.""Does that mean you give up the idea of having an unalterable ego?"
"I guess it does.""A moment ago you believed the opposite. I should add that Hume's analysis of the human mind and his rejection of the unalterable ego was put forward almost 2,500 years earlier on the other side of the world."
"Who by?""By Buddha. It's almost uncanny how similarly the two formulate their ideas. Buddha saw life as an unbroken succession of mental and physical processes which keep people in a continual state of change. The infant is not the same as the adult; I am not the same today as I was yesterday. There is nothing of which I can say 'this is mine,' said Buddha, and nothing of which I can say 'this is me.' There is thus no T or unalterable ego."
"Yes, that was typically Hume.""In continuation of the idea of an unalterable ego, many rationalists had taken it for granted that man had an eternal soul.""Is that a false perception too?""According to Hume and Buddha, yes. Do you know what Buddha said to his followers just before he died?""No, how could I?"" 'Decay is inherent in all compound things. Work out your own salvation with diligence.' Hume could have said the same thing. Or Democritus, for that matter. We know at all events that Hume rejected any attempt to prove the immortality of the soul or the existence of God. That does not mean that he ruled out either one, but to prove religious faith by human reason was rationalistic claptrap, he thought. Hume was not a Christian, neither was he a confirmed atheist. He was what we call an agnostic."
"What's that?""An agnostic is someone who holds that the existence of God or a god can neither be proved nor disproved. When Hume was dying a friend asked him if he believed in life after death. He is said to have answered:
"It is also possible that a knob of coal placed upon the fire will not burn.""I see."
"The answer was typical of his unconditional open-mindedness. He only accepted what he had perceived through his senses. He held all other possibilities open. He rejected neither faith in Christianity nor faith in miracles. But both were matters of faith and not of knowledge or reason. You might say that with Hume's philosophy, the final link between faith and knowledge was broken.""You say he didn't deny that miracles can happen?"
"That didn't mean that he believed in them, more the opposite. He made a point of the fact that people seemed to have a powerful need of what we today would call 'supernatural' happenings. The thing is that all the miracles you hear of have always happened in some far distant place or a long, long time ago. Actually, Hume only rejected miracles because he had never experienced any. But he had not experienced that they couldn't happen either.""You'll have to explain that.""According to Hume, a miracle is against the laws of nature. But it is meaningless to allege that we have experienced the laws of nature. We experience that a stone falls to the ground when we let go of it, and if it didn't fall--well, then we experienced that.'1""I would say that was a miracle--or something supernatural."
"So you believe there are two natures--a 'natural' and a 'supernatural.' Aren't you on the way back to the rationalistic claptrap?""Maybe, but I still think the stone will fall to the ground every time I let go."
"Why?""Now you're being horrible."
"I'm not horrible, Sophie. It's never wrong for a philosopher to ask questions. We may be getting to the crux of Hume's philosophy. Tell me how you can be so certain that the stone will always fall to the earth.""I've seen it happen so many times that I'm absolutely certain."
"Hume would say that you have experienced a stone falling to the ground many times. But you have never experienced that it will always fall. It is usual to say that the stone falls to the ground because of the law of gravitation. But we have never experienced such a law. We have only experienced that things fall.""Isn't that the same thing?""Not completely. You say you believe the stone will fall to the ground because you have seen it happen so many times. That's exactly Hume's point. You are so used to the one thing following the other that you expect the same to happen every time you let go of a stone. This is the way the concept of what we like to call 'the unbreakable laws of nature' arises.""Did he really mean it was possible that a stone would not fall?"
"He was probably just as convinced as you that it would fall every time he tried it. But he pointed out that he had not experienced why it happens.""Now we're far away from babies and flowers again!"
"No, on the contrary. You are welcome to take children as Hume's verification. Who do you think would be more surprised if the stone floated above the ground for an hour or two--you or a one-year-old child?""I guess I would."
"Why?""Because I would know better than the child how unnatural it was."