The manuscript presented here was written in installments, one chapter a week, during the spring and summer of 2004, as part of a small email discussion group; see For more about my activities and interests, see my home page.

I have no plans to publish this manuscript as a book in its present form. My main goal in writing these chapters was to start a dialogue about the question whether it is still meaningful to explore reality in a direct and personal way.

The old philosophical ideal of know thyself has to be adapted to a world in which science has become a dominant form of acquiring knowledge. This does not mean that we have to adapt our thinking to the structure of the instantaneous snapshot of science that offers itself here and now, right in front of our eyes. Rather, we should try to align our views with the insights that science has to offer throughout past, present and future.

How does self-knowledge fit in with the type of knowledge that such a long-term view of science can give us? And are there any meaningful ways in which older knowledge traditions can shed light on our current questions? Can we find a place for ourselves in the middle of the flood of information that is poured out over us daily? After struggling with these questions for a few decades, I have tried to summarize here some of the partial answers I have found so far.


This manuscript would not have been written were it not for the stimulating presence of a small group of friends in cyber space, with whom I have conducted an ongoing dialogue about the structure of reality, starting in the spring of 2003. I thank the members of this group, Sukanya Chakrabarti, Veronique Foti, Jon Lindsay, Rajesh Kasturirangan, Jeff Thompson, Leonore Wigger, and Edita Zlatic for their excitement, persistence, and insights. Many others, too numerous to list here, have subsequently provided helpful comments and reactions. See for an ongoing discussion about the questions raised here.

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