So I was thinking this morning, as I was reading a book called The Golden Ratio, all about the, um, golden ratio, and it occurred to me to wonder… what would I think about things if I had not been taught what to think all my life, but I still, somehow, had all my wits about me? If I lived to be 50 or whatever, how much would I be able to figure out about how the world works, like the guys back in 3500 B.C. who were just starting to notice that there were patterns to what the moon and the sun and the seasons were doing. How long would it take me to notice pairs of things? How high would I be able to count? Would I settle for the status quo and count 1, 2, 3, ‘many?’ Would I try to make some marks on something to help me remember things?
The real questions are:
- What’s really ‘out there’ (epistemology) and what have I just been taught that may or may not be true (pedantry)?
- How does someone get to look at the world with such fresh eyes that they can invent ‘The Calculus’ or the Theory of Relativity?
I mean, I never watched a single episode of X-files, but I believe ‘the truth is out there.’ I also agree with the great Martin Gardner (of Scientific American’s Mathematical Games fame) when he says in his book Did Adam and Eve have Navels?, ‘I believe there are truths as far beyond our grasp as calculus is beyond the grasp of a cat.’