It's been said that there's nothing new under the sun. 36 established core plots, the same old depravity and sin, the same moments of rapture and bliss, the same march of progress toward a better world. Love, hate, greed, altruism and all the rest have been with us since the beginning of humanity, regardless of when you believe humanity got its start. There are no truly unique ideas or actions, only variations on a theme.
What's the point of being a philosopher anymore? The wisdom of Plato and Aristotle are still with us, and many of their lessons are still appropriate today. For that matter, what's the point of doing anything? There are thousands of years of recorded human history and philosophy available to us, practically at the touch of a button. Think of a topic, any topic, and you're likely to find a wealth of information covering it. It's easy to fall under the weight of ennui and give up.
So why do we keep at it? Why do we keep belaboring over the same points over and over again? Why do we argue the same topics, rehash the same ideas, fight the same battles? The only answer I can come up with is "relevance." It's been explained to us in language simple and complex, but we still haven't figured it out, yet.
In previous diaries and articles, I've argued everything from the abolition of monogamy to the destruction of organized religion. Why? Has the human race advanced so far that we're beyond such primitive concepts? Apparently not. We seem to need these and other archaic security blankets as much as we ever did. We still fight over dominance no matter how often the lesson of cooperation is demonstrated. We argue over truth regardless of the facts presented to us. We're a singularly contrary and contradictory species. What's the point?
Relevance. Humanity seems to cycle through history. We embrace religion, then we turn away from it, then embrace it again. We dabble with free love, put it away, and come back to it. We test, we prod, we turn away and turn back. The wisdom of our forefathers is forgotten and rediscovered, or it's examined and tested endlessly. We're still the same people who burned heretics at the stake for heresy, and yet we're completely different.
Modern science has achieved some spectacular feats in advancing human knowledge. Long ago it was postulated that all matter was composed of tiny elements so small they could not be separated. Nobody knew whether or not it was true because no one had any way to test it. Finally, technology progressed to the point where we could test the theory and found it to be true. Also long ago, it was postulated that the Universe revolved around the Earth. Everyone accepted this was true because no one was aware of feeling any motion on the Earth. Technology progressed to the point where we could test the theory and found it to be false.
Discoveries like the ones I've described aren't necessarily unique. People have discovered all sorts of truths about themselves and the universe that haven't fit accepted wisdom. Not too long ago a surgeon argued that the brain, not the heart, is the seat of consciousness. He went so far as to prove his point by dissecting a cadaver and revealing how the nervous system spreads out from the brain and not the heart. The response he received? "Were it not for the writings of Aristotle, you might convince me."
The world has changed. We now have means to test the world around us and discover if what we thought to be true can be proven. When we find a theory or wisdom proven or disproven, we can accept it instead of rejecting it for being contrary to the wisdom of our forefathers. Go back to the Dark Ages and prove to a peasant or a noble that two objects of differing weight will fall at the same speed and you just might get burned as a heretic. Not anymore.
Much of what I have to say throughout my life will not be unique. My ideas and philosophies are not original; even the way I apply them to my life has probably been attempted before. There are two reasons why I bother: the first is that I live in a time of unique opportunity, when advancing my cause and choosing my own wisdom can be tolerated and even encouraged. The second reason is because there is simply too much wisdom and philosophy to encompass. I could spend my life researching the wisdom that came before me and not have enough time to encompass it all. I can only observe the world and lives around me to draw my conclusions. That I repeat what has already come before me says to me that humanity has not changed enough to invalidate my statements. That I can state them without fear of bodily harm says that we have changed enough to hope for more.
I am a study in contradiction, just like everyone else around me. I am confident and afraid, wise and foolish, emotional and rational. I will fail in some tests and pass in others. I speak to the moment, to the world I perceive around me without fear that the past has already said the same. I'll keep repeating it and hope that future generations repeat what I am passing on in hope of the day when we finally figure it out.