Sunday, July 26, 2009

Hasta la Bye Bye, Baby

Ever since Descartes said, “Cogito, ergo sum (I think, therefore I am.)”, people have focused on what makes our physical world exist—essentially, how do we know that what is outside of our minds is actually out there?

A common metaphor is: “How do we know (really) that our brains are not sitting in a vat of saline and our sensations are caused by electrical impulses delivered by another being or machine?”

It doesn’t really matter. What ever I experience is true to me. Even if an electrode falsely gives the information, it is real.

Experience is the only thing that each of us understands. It is more important than any data or figures that can be given, because it has affected each of our senses.

People reading Descartes skip an important point he makes in Discourse on the Method for Conducting One’s Reason Well and for Seeking the Truth in the Sciences (1637).

Descartes believed in experience, so much so that he wrote:

That is why, as soon as age permitted me to emerge from the supervision of my teachers, I completely abandoned the study of letters. And resolving to search for no knowledge other than what could be found within myself, or else in the great book of the world, I spent the rest of my youth traveling, seeing courts and armies, mingling with people of diverse temperaments and circumstances, gathering various experiences, testing myself in the encounters that fortune offered me, and everywhere engaging in such reflection upon the things that presented themselves that I was able to derive some profit from them. For it seemed to me that I could find much more truth in the reasonings that each person makes concerning matters that are important to him, and whose outcome ought to cost him dearly later on if he has judged badly, than in those reasonings engaged in by a man of letters of study, which touch on speculations that produce no effect and are of no other consequence to him except perhaps that, the more they are removed from common sense, the more pride he will take in them, for he will have to employ that much more wit and ingenuity in attempting to render them plausible. And I have always had an especially great desire to learn to distinguish the true from the false, in order to see my way clearly in my actions, and to go forward with confidence in this life.

Obviously, since I didn’t live in 1637, I am no Descartes, and will never be one, but in my years of reading, that paragraph speaks more to me than the Declaration of Independence or the U.S. Constitution.

We will leave Descartes for a moment.

I am a rather anal person. My wife would say that I am a very anal person. Most everything I have done has been planned. Before the hunters rolled out of their sleeping bags, the crew had horses saddled, the cook had breakfast going, and the guides planned the day’s hunt.

Shit happens, so we were always flexible, but a plan was necessary. If a plan didn’t produce what we expected, we regrouped and finished the day with an altered or brand-new plan.

Just like writing a business plan for my outfit, I came up with a plan for my blogs. As time passed, blog and plan have diverged.

Because what I blog is based on my experience, it cannot be measured with a micrometer; it cannot be figured with a slide rule, 10 engineers and a room full of spreadsheets. I really have no way of measuring if I am on my plan or not.

But my experience is that people have stolen my content, rewrote emails I have sent answering questions and then blogged it, and had my computer infested with malware.

None of that was part of the plan. Now it is time to regroup, rethink and move ahead, around, over, under, or possibly through those roadblocks. Blogging may or may not be part of that regrouping.

Throughout my time blogging I have experienced some good people, especially those associated with Kristine’s Outdoor Bloggers Summit. I haven’t found a bad egg in the bunch. Plaudits and Kudos to Kristine and her bunch.

If I don’t return to blogging, I am not sure how long I will leave my content available to the public. Wait and see perhaps.

For those who continue to blog, and wish blogging to grow, I would suggest bringing clarity to the community. Anonymity is a scourge to any free system. Those who hide behind avatars and pseudonyms may be good people, but who is to know. Those that hide behind long trails of internet addresses are a rot. None of them is good.

Finally. Those who blog about other people’s experiences are no better than Descartes’ men or letters. They have “[ . . . ]reasonings engaged in by a man of letters of study, which touch on speculations that produce no effect and are of no other consequence to him except perhaps that, the more they are removed from common sense, the more pride he will take in them, for he will have to employ that much more wit and ingenuity in attempting to render them plausible.”

Until another experience comes along, I will sit here on the Howard Air Force Base runway waiting for another C-130 to take me somewhere. The last one went to Puerto Rico in 1977. That was real. Even if it were administered by electrodes in a vat, it was real. Much more real than someone experiencing another's experiences.



The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Thought provoking as ever.
I really hope you'll change your mind and keep blogging. The world will always be full of lackwits who copy while they could create. What we are short on is people who write interesting and credible blogs. There are plenty of people like me churning out mindless prattle!

On a business note
If i were in the market for an Elk hunt in Montana (and I would be if it weren't for my current lack of cash) at the end of a long day afield I'd want to be sitting by the campfire with someone who was as at home discussing caliber's as he was chewing over the nature of perception and existence. I'm sure I'm not the only one.


hodgeman said...

Happy Trails Dennis.

Hope we cross paths again.

Miss Suzie said...

Sorry to hear that happened to you. Take a break and maybe you'll return. I wish you nothing but the best! ~hugs~

Gabe Davis said...

Farewell, I hold on by a thread fearing malware and the such. I am an outdoorsman not a computerman and with the loss of such a competant man as your self makes me think maybe this interweb is no place for men of action, maybe the rivers and woods are the only santuary for us because it is honest unlike the people who have wronged you. If I stop blogging few will notice but if it makes you feel any better I believe several will notice your absence.
Your Pal the Envirocapitalist.

timethief said...

Farewell and it's been good to know you. Please recognize this though. As soon as a blogger publishes a post stating they are considering closing their blog the blog scrapers are on it like flies on a carcass. I learned this the hard way in 2006 when 1 day after I published such a statement my content was everywhere all over the web on multiple sites.