„Katra gudrība, kas ir augstāka par Tavējo, šķiet dumja”
“Every wisdom that is higher than yours will seem foolish”
/Rev.Juris Rubenis, in Latvian/
It’s always good to keep in mind the above sentence when we rush to judge others’ views. Especially the worldview that are in a conflict with your own.
Tracing V. Ramachandran and mirror neurons on the net, I have stumbled across a rich collection of ideas formulated (mostly) by exceptionally strong intellects. The site is www.edge.org and it defines itself as a mouthpiece of the “third generation intellectuals”. A layman like me would immediately wonder who those people are. The “about” section on Egde.org defines the “third generation” as accomplished scientists who care about the fundamental problems of society and knowledge, and who are ready to actively engage in educating and challenging the seeking public. So far so good.
A first pick from the surface of Edge.org indeed delivered fascinating and “ideaful” reading. I’ve read through a part of the World Question Center – a collection of short essays by highly accomplished intellectuals on specific provocative topics (each year features its own question). Here are just a few that I’ve liked the most:
For physicists, I recommend a short answer of Philip W. Anderson to What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it? (World question’05), which makes a very important point. It is best understood in the context of “The Theory of Everything” by Laughlin and Pines, but also needs to be balanced against an educated pro-string opinion, like Leonard Susskind’s Dangerous idea (World question’06).
Two comments from a different sphere address the “dangerous questions” we were recently discussing with some of my friends: an honest look at the problems of democracy as a state-organizing principle by Haim Hariri, and a perspective on the weaknesses of the free will concept by Clay Shirky.
However, after my first excitement started to wane, I’ve noticed a strange and unpleasant bias of the Edge. The emphasis on “the empirical world” in the very definition of the site is quite ok – after all, if you gather the representatives of the natural sciences, how else would you define their methodology? Positioning the third generation as antagonistic to the “monopoly of literary intellectuals” sounded a bit strange, but given my ignorance in such a topic, could still be absolutely neutral. But then in several places I came across the painfully familiar “evolved-not-designed” emphasis… High correlation between the list of Edge contributions and the signatories of the latest Humanism manifesto just confirmed my suspicion – the famous “prejudice against any prejudice” of rationalism seems to be an entry requirement for Edge.org contributors.
Sadly enough, the illnesses of modernity “science-implies-atheism” and “religion-implies-ignorance” penetrate even the most intellectually refined communities.