“Common-sense is the most widely shared good in the world: because everybody thinks they are so well endowed with it that they do not desire any more.”
Not my words!
…but the words of a man who was one of the few who did not trust himself. He thought common-sense was the ability to distinguish truth from falsehood. And in a way, I agree. Descartes did not trust himself. I do not trust myself.
My senses appear to only give me a partial view of my surroundings. My memory has been inaccurate on many occasions. My ability to think even seems to fluctuate.
To learn more, I started observing others: I have seen many occasions where common-sense did not prevail. Where others have obviously held incorrect views but at the same time these people appeared to believe their views to be true. Could I be mistaken in the same way?
These questions about truth were also asked by one of our most famous thinkers: Descartes. He proposed a way of thinking, a methodology, to get as close to an independent truth as possible.
He started with the very basic truth: I think therefore I am.
This seems universally true to me, no matter what. From that point on, Descartes starts adding (or deducting) further facts. Often, he has to add one or more assumptions and that makes most deductions not guaranteed. But hey, they do seem acceptable most of the time!
One of the things I share with Descartes is the desire to find the truth.
Why? …Must be a feeling! But maybe it is also because to me it defines being human.
Just like Descartes, I think that to find that truth, first I need to set myself a method.
Descartes proposed one which is logical, but does not work anymore in our modern times. Our knowledge base has expanded so much since his time (around 1600) that it has now become impossible for one person to know everything.
Mimicing Descartes, one person could start from basic principles and deduct from there.
In all likelihood, this person would follow Descartes in his thinking and maybe could get further than Descartes ever did. Which is admirable, but repeating existing work.
There are (or have been) giants of science around. Many of them.
Rumor has it that they even stand on each others’ shoulders to see further. So, you want to look as far as they have? You will need to climb the giants and stand on them! This is allowed. This is desirable. If you do not, you will stand in the giants’ shadow, instead.
The methodology will need to involve team work and trusting other people. Even though I know they have been untrustworthy and have made many mistakes in the past. Even though I cannot even really trust myself.
It will involve team-work. There will be a social aspect and an insight required in human nature. Subjects that interested Descartes a lot as well, by the way.
Occasionally I plan to write an article with some, hopefully, new ideas. I will publish them on this website. Any feedback on the articles is much appreciated and I will consider any arguments and maybe reply and/or republish them.
The reasons I started this blog also include:
1. I forget, I forget: I have found that I forget many things over time. This is a historic record for me of some of my thoughts.
2. To crystalize thoughts: sometimes I think I have a good idea, but when I try to write it down it does not always hold up to scrutiny.
3. To get feedback from other people and get closer to the truth.
I am of Dutch origin, but have lived outside of the Netherlands for quite a while. My main interests include science, economics, technology, social behavior of people and (long term) trends.
Hope we can work together!