A vehicle for venting on philosophy, religion, and the general state of things. Proprietor: C. W. Powell

Thursday, June 21, 2007

What Do You Think? Or a better question: What Thinks?

My wife and I just celebrated our 45th anniversary by spending a few days in the glorious Colorado mountains near the city of Montrose. The beauties of the days and evenings led to some curious speculation on my part that have nothing--and everything--to do with such things as marriage, beauty, happiness, and heaven and hell.

The flowers in the Rocky Mountains are glorious, as are the magnificent mountain peaks surrounding Ouray and Silverton. Huge amounts of silver and gold were extracted years ago from the mines in the region, and that spurs the thought. Why did men seek after gold and silver?

The answer, of course, is easy. Gold and silver are valuable. Men and women make and wear beautiful things from the precious metals. They are fine conductors of electricity and find great value in electronic circuitry. They are durable and malleable. But a sunset is golden, too. Lead is durable and malleable, and copper conducts electricity.

What is this thing that is called "gold" in our language? When we say something is malleable, what is malleable. What makes the gold differ from the lead? What is the thing?

The thing we call gold is the same no matter its shape or size. If it be painted with blue paint, it does not change under the paint, though it looks different to our eye. What IS it. The question of what IT IS is important, and many a fool wasted his efforts in digging something out of the soil that looked very much like gold, but was indeed not gold, but iron pyrite.

The attributes cannot exist by themselves. The very science of physics depends upon the truth that substances exist. You cannot measure the length of an idea nor weigh a color. You cannnot compute the mass of an emotion.

This is the problem with modern materialism. Our science has permitted us to make very large strides in measuring things that can be measured; computing the reactions in heat, light, movement, weight, and extension.

But when a man thinks, what is it that is thinking? Just as we would think a man a fool who would seek the silver of the rain and ignore the silver in the stones under his feet, so the modern age might be called foolish for thinking that material things are all there is, without ever thinking what it is that thinks, or to borrow a bit from Descartes, what is it that KNOWS it thinks.

In the search for man's meaning, it is as foolish to deny the existence of the soul as it is for the chemist to deny the existence of what he weighs and mixes and measures. Isn't it a consumate folly for a man to think about the world and never even consider who or what it is that thinks, or who or what it is that knows it thinks?

So what does that have to do with an anniversary? A bunch. Solomon said that "he who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor of the Lord." Getting married and finding a wife are not the same thing. What is a wife? A man who doesn't know or doesn't care will probably not have one long.


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