I started this blog for personal and public reasons.
Personally, I needed a place to write down and bring together all the different things I think about. I think about politics a lot. But I also think about ‘science’ (for want of a better word) a lot. I can’t stop myself from trying to know about, and to understand people and the world we’ve created.
I also think about our daily lives in today’s world. Is it good for us? Are we coping with it? Sure, it’s complex, but what are the patterns in it? Does it make any sense?
At a public level there are also a couple of reasons for starting this blog.
I guess I want others to have a chance to talk (to me and to each other) about the connections between these areas: Politics, science and everyday life. I think there are many people (enough, anyway) who want to be able to do that.
I also think it’s a ‘good thing’ to mull over these ‘big’ topics, to see connections and to come up with possibilities that don’t arise when you’re thinking on your own. Discussion also tends to go deep, way down ‘the rabbit hole’. As we think and debate we almost inevitably see a “world in a grain of sand”.
I value debate, discussion and interaction not simply because I may believe in democracy or other grand and probably commendable things. I value it, mostly, because it seems to me to be a deep aspect of what it is to be human. It tells us something about ourselves.
Go amongst any pre-modern peoples and see what they do, incessantly – talk, argue, joke, gesture, get emotional with each other and even fight.
But after the talking (and fighting) there’s often also silent reflection. That’s of value too. Words don’t always help. As the saying goes, ‘Empty vessels make the most noise’ or, as The Preacher put it in Ecclesiastes (6, 11-12):
The more words, the more vanity, and what is man the better? For who knows what is good for man while he lives the few days of his vain life, which he passes like a shadow?
My favourite quotation on this point is from Ludwig Wittgenstein, in his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus:
What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence. (T. 7)
Why my favourite? Well, after writing this injunction he then came back to philosophy some years later and spent every day churning out ‘remarks’ that became his posthumous output. A hypocrite? I don’t think so. Done properly, talking has its own kind of silence.
That’s what this blog is about.