Comments for Life As A Lab

Chapter 2: A Play

I found the second chapter quite nice, in that you say what it is that you are setting out to do and in what way your exposition is not like a classical science text - here I might have to lodge a small protest about math versus physics - often undergraduate physics text books have the same deductive treatment that math books have, I think it is only higher level texts and papers that you really see the difference between the two. Do most people reading books or watching movies ever lose touch with the fact that they are in a make-believe world? In my opinion dreams are perhaps the only example I would be willing to accept of being completely engrossed in a seemingly closed system. Also, I feel that we need a better language than "Recognition is either impossible or the simplest thing in the world" for it gives a sense that you either get it or you do not, but in any case, there is nothing you can do about it. I would say that challenging presuppositions is about as hard as it gets, and when you get it, it feels like the world will never be the same, but I am assuming that one assumption (perhaps one that should be challenged!) of science like approach to contemplation is that presuppositions can be challenged in a systematic way and what I learn about dropping assumptions can be communicated in a precise manner.

-- RK- 08 Apr 2005

RK, your points are all well taken. As for math vs. physics, in my own experience there was a huge difference between the ways the two were taught on an undergraduate level, but other places may well be different. As for `getting it', waking up from a dream, or suddenly looking up from a novel or movie is something that is almost instantaneous; to be half engrossed and half looking around is perhaps possible for a split second, but normally the transition happens so fast that you don't notice it. So in that sense it is very different from the process of learning something new, which is gradual. Dropping a mistaken notion in its vivid livedness almost has to be close to instantaneous. That doesn't mean that you cannot have many such experiences. But I think it is important to point out that it is not a matter of studying, moving, improving, but really only a matter of dropping, each and every time.

-- Piet Hut - 12 Apr 2005