Friday, May 02, 2008

Scientists and philosophers both draw broad inferences from small occurrences. If I were an ornithologist and observed a particular behavior in a nesting pair of a particular species of warbler, I would likely propose that behavior as universal amongst nesting pairs of that species. As a philosopher, I would use my own experience as a starting point in my search for an understanding of life, making the assumption that we, as a human species are very much inclined to be alike in the way we think and that at the core of our being there are commonalities of human experience and values.

Our reliance on experts isolates us from closer examination of physical reality and the emotional landscape of our humanity. But working as a craftsman has a tendency to put your hands on the essence of both.

This morning I awakened to the flashes of light from an amazing thunderstorm that shut off our electric power for an hour. Yesterday the wind blew fiercely from the west. The past two days I've struggled with the defects of reliance on always-aging manufactured electronics, each object marching relentlessly toward obsolescence and disposal. In the process, I am left with the knowledge that our own knowledge and recorded experience are vulnerable, subject to loss, irretrievable in the failure of a hard drive, or in the temporary power failure from weather.

Of course all that means nothing, right? Nothing from which a philosopher or scientist in his or her right mind would infer patterns having greater effect or broader scope, right? Our wonderful modern civilization is marching along just fine, don't you think? So what if we've become helpless! So what if we've taught our children that food comes from the grocery store and that money comes from banks!

There are experts who ask you to be concerned. Jeffrey Sachs of the Earth Institute at Columbia University has an article in Time Magazine this week about the food and energy shortage that threaten our worldwide civilization. He tells steps governments can take. I can tell you something you can do to forestall disaster and become powerful in its face. Learn to work with your hands... whether at woodworking, sewing, gardening, doing for yourself offers tremendous rewards. I've written more than I have time for this morning, so if you want to know more, read more deeply in the blog. It is about empowering our children and ourselves to partake deeply as creators in human culture and life.

1 comment:

  1. Doug, If you decide to repair your g-3 and can't find parts, I might have some. I have a still working g-3 desktop that I don't use anymore and have been hoping a need for it would arise so I wouldn't have to use it as a boat anchor. Figuratively speaking of course. I just have a hard time disposing of it when it still works.