Saturday, 18 April 2015


Dante called Aristotle the master of those who know. Life and action have to be based on knowledge, not on ignorance or superstition. From an early age, explorers, philosophers and scientists have tried to know. I will shortly reread the opening chapter of Poul Anderson's The Boat Of A Million Years, "Thule," about an early search for knowledge.

For James Blish on knowledge, see here, particularly the concluding section. The Buddhist Eightfold Path begins with "Right Knowledge." There are different levels of knowledge. Persis d'Io realized that the teenage Dominic Flandry knew exactly what he was doing when he seduced her. For me, the quintessential Anderson character who knows what is happening to society and tries to do what is best for his society is Gratillonius, the last King of Ys.

Despite accumulated and shared knowledge, philosophical disagreements remain. Some think that the earliest mental event in a new organism must have been caused by an earlier mental event, either in an earlier organism or in the creator (see here). I suggest instead that qualitative changes can and do occur and that these have included naturally selected organismic sensitivity quantitatively increasing until it was qualitatively transformed into conscious sensation, thus that mental events began in the course of natural selection. I think that Poul Anderson is on my side of this argument.

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