Monday, February 28, 2011

The Titans

Talking to Titans: Online resources and links
Men of Science
Sir Isaac Newton
Galileo Galilei
Leaders in crises
Artists and philosophers
Da Vinci
Inventors and Innovators
Marie Curie
Leaders of the spirit
Luther King Jr.
Aldo Leopold
Rachel Carson
Donella Meadows
Ralph Waldo Emerson

The modern World

The modern world
The modern period has been a period of significant development in the fields of science, politics, warfare, and technology. It has also been an age of discovery and globalization. During this time that the European powers and later their colonies, began a political, economic, and cultural colonization of the rest of the world.

The concept of the modern world as distinct from an ancient world of historical and outmoded artifacts rests on a sense that the modern world is primarily the product of relatively recent and revolutionary change.
Advances in all areas of human activity:-

appear to have transformed an "Old World" into the 'Modern or New World. In each case, the identification of a Revolutionary change can be used to demarcate the old and old-fashioned from the modern. < ...


To describe the world in which we all live and work, are born into and die out of, and to comment upon the origins of our world, it is necessary to outline the founders of our world – men, and women, who might appear to have outgrown their fame as contributors to our world. Who, for instance, with the advances of technology and the sciences that support and further it, thinks of men like Euclid, who lived in the 3rd Century BC? Who credits that man with anything other than the principles of plane and solid geometry – systems that have been responsible, on one level, of torturing the minds of schoolchildren being taught its principles and being then expected to apply them on paper? Yet, his methods of deductive reasoning are at the very heart of democratically governed societies, from his day until ours.


Known as ‘the father of geometry’, Euclid is thought to have lived somewhere between 330 BCE and 260BCE. He taught mathematics in Alexandria and wrote what has been called the most enduring mathematical work of all time, the ‘Stoicheia’ or ‘Elements’. This thirteen volume work was a comprehensive compilation of geometrical knowledge, based on the works of Thales, Pythagoras, Plato, Eudoxus, Aristotle, Menaechmus and others.


In the dialogue that follows, Euclid and one of his students, Heractus, discuss the study of the laws of the natural world, the study of Nature itself, and research at university.

Euclid: All of my work is based upon Nature – the world God created. The straight line is the basis of my work. However, this is a theoretical concept, since the straight line is merely all that man sees of the World at his feet. Straight lines are found to be nothing of the sort if one steps back from Earth, since what we, men, call a straight line is that portion of the horizon of our Earth – it seems straight, but in reality, is the curvature of the planet.
To produce a line that was straight, one would have to draw a tangent to the Earth’s globe that would stretch to infinity without bending – that would be a true straight line. What we have to work with is only the semblance of that true straight line.

Heractus: How does that affect your work here on Earth?

E: It makes me realize that my geometry is merely an attempt – a scholarly attempt – to fathom out God’s Creation.

H: So what you are actually doing when unfolding your laws is unraveling God’s plan of His Creation. What is your motivation for doing that? Are you trying to equal God?

E: Not at all. No scholar presumes so much. In fact, the opposite is the case; that in the attempted unraveling, one comes to see the complexity of Nature – of God’s Creation, and this gives a scholar the inspiration to go on – not to approach God in His Genius, but to be inspired by it to achieve more than he would otherwise achieve.

God does but show only so much of His Creation to draw scholars in to a world of discovery that may take a lifetime – many such lifetimes to discover, and even then may leave much left to be found.

That is the beauty of the study and contemplation of Nature – of the Natural world and the laws that hold it all together – that try as you may, you can never come even close to discovering all there is to discover.

H: But isn’t that frustrating, the thought that one can never find what there is to be found?

E: You should think a minute more – several minutes more – and then ask your question again, coming to realize the full import of what you are saying.

If the totality of the laws and intricacies of Nature could be determined, what would we be left with? You recall the story of the Tower of Babel, when men built a tower so high as to be able to reach God.

H: Yes, I do.

E: Then you recall that before men committed their folly, God confounded them in their work by giving them the different tongues of the world so that they could not understand each other and so could not go on.

H: What then?

E: If you take the Elements, as I have called my work, you may also see the resemblance to that confounded tower of Babel.

Instead of confounding me with surrounding me with people who spoke different languages, I was given a complexity to unravel, which was ultimately impossible, come to many approximations as I eventually did.

Don’t you see that in my unraveling of the laws that hold our universe together, I was, in my own way, trying to reach out to God.

I could not actually reach God, no one can, but that shouldn’t stop us from applying what He endowed us with – the mind – to move into the abstractions that are nothing more or less than God’s plans of Nature.

H: So you could say that all study is the same; attempting to get nearer to God.

E: Yes, exactly. It matters little that what one person – let us say an undergraduate student – strives to find what others have already found. It is that student’s point of discovery at that point in time – it is that student discovering something first, just as it was when I first worked on geometrical laws all those years ago. The student discovering something for himself is exactly akin to that first discovery of mine. That student finds the joy of discovery in the same way that I did. A discovery for one is no less a discovery than any others.

H: What of research at University? Can we say that a student conducting original research is moving in uncharted waters?

E: Exactly. If that student is working at the forefront of knowledge, as he or she must be to claim that what is being researched is original, then that student is placed in the position I was when I was discovering for myself. Research is climbing that Tower of Babel, safe in the realization that it is only one step in an infinite number of steps – that any research, however humble it may appear to those who are more learned, is that finding for oneself some aspect of God’s Creation – in that way, research is a righteous occupation worthy of any one of us mortals.

Deductive reasoning is that type of reasoning which constructs or evaluates deductive arguments and then uses them to show that a conclusion necessarily follows on from a set of premises or hypotheses. If the argument reaches the conclusion predicted in the logic of the argument, then that argument is valid, provided that its premises were true. Deductive reasoning is a method of increasing knowledge.


H: Your mathematical observations were based upon deductive reasoning, were they not

E: They were, and deductive reasoning remains the modus operandi of all scientific investigation.

H: Why is that so?

E: Because for us to be confident in saying that something in the natural world is this way or that, we must be able to call upon proof, and proof stems from using deductive logic, with premises that must be true if the subsequent argument can be said to be valid. Notice here that I did not say that the argument is true, but valid.

H: What does that mean?

E: That it can be held up to scrutiny and found to be repeatable – is the basis of research not twofold – rigour being one, repeatability the other?
That is the nature of our ways of determining the laws of the natural world; by using a logic that is both impersonal and objective. Men have been persecuted for using deductive reasoning; it goes against any authority other than those of its own premises.

In other words, at one time in the history of societies and civilizations, something said that clearly was at odds with either popular belief (or we might say, popular ignorance or prejudice) or the higher authority of autocratic rulers was either ignored as being erroneous, or condemned as the heresy of the day.

H: So, it could be said, could it not, that this form of logic was instrumental in bringing forth a more rational mode of thought?

E: Quite so. I would go further and say that once such logic took hold in the minds of people, the assumed correctness of autocratic authority began to be toppled. In this way, the reasoning I used in the postulates, axioms and notions which formed my groundbreaking work on geometry, is akin to philosophy; it is the basis of a positive philosophy that has been responsible for changing the world of superstition and belief; to the modern world we all inhabit – a world in which logic and reason supersede authority and localized power, which led to people being kept in ignorance of how what we now call the physical sciences operate.

H: Not merely those, important as they are to our understanding of the planet and our place in it, but also in our place in civilized society, not merely as quartered slaves – serfs, if you will, but free men in our own right and standing as human beings. It is also responsible for fuelling the quest for scientific knowledge ever since, has it not?

E: So you say. With the benefit of hindsight, which future generations will be blessed with pertaining to the value of my work on geometry, and the ‘repercussions’ that stemmed from it, we may well say that the world – our portion of it – changed dramatically from that day in the field of mathematics, and the other sciences, as well as the philosophical underpinning to how we ought to be governed, rationally and impartially without recourse to prejudice masquerading as divine providence.

H: Mankind has truly benefited from your findings, possibly in ways that you could not have foreseen at the time.

E: That is undoubtedly so, but I may also add that had I had the time, inclination and energy to follow the full implications of my work, that I would undoubtedly have reached the conclusion that such a world as you find yourself in a thousand years from now would have come to pass; that is the nature and I might say the beauty and full value of deductive reasoning.
Robert L. Fielding

Charles Darwin

Dialogue with Darwin

Charles Darwin: "Let those who consider any tribes of men as irreclaimable barbarians, call to mind that the Danes and Saxons, of whose cruelties a small specimen has been given, were the progenitors of those who, in Scandinavia, in Normandy, in Britain, and in America, are now among the most industrious, intelligent, orderly, and humane, of the dwellers upon earth."

Interlocutor: Meaning, I take it, that even the most unworthy are redeemable – the worst can be made whole again – is that your view.

CD: It most certainly is. Have I not sad that even what at first might seem ‘irreclaimable barbarians’ – the Danes and Saxons, who pillaged our lands and did with us what they would, e’en to our destruction, even them can be brought back into the fold, as it were.

I: But is that going against your own words, that only the fittest survive?

CD: Here I must attest to having misgivings, not on my own words but on the interpretation of them by others. What might you, Sir, suppose to be the fittest amongst our own species – do you think we should be murderous, tyrannical, demanding of others, even unto their own demise?

Is that your ideal of the fittest of our species, or does it have some other characteristic besides physical, one might say brute strength? Is that all we need to survive – brute strength, or do we need some other attributes? What say you, Sir?

I: I should say that we do indeed need strength – to survive – to catch food to eat – to build our shelter – to defend our families from those who would do us harm. Yes, I would say that the attribute of physical strength is indeed vital to our continued survival.

CD: That and nought else?

I: Why of course, there are other attributes that we would find most beneficial to our survival.

CD: And what would those be, Sir?

I: I should say that one essential would be to deduce from sight and hearing, from smell and from touch.

CD: And why those – from the senses, if I take your meaning aright?

I: Because we are given those by the Almighty, are we not?

CD: We most certainly are, Sir, and we are given much more, are we not?

I: Indeed, we are.

CD: And what else could we say that the Almighty has given us that would be of benefit to us in our attempt to live out our lives on Earth?

I: We would think our ability to conjecture – to reason, and to form judgments useful attributes.

CD: And not only they, I hope. Do you have any other suggested properties of man that we may have to depend upon in times of need?

I: Yes, I hope we may not leave out our ability to have compassion for others of our kind. By compassion, I mean to cover our propensity to love our brothers, to love and cherish those nearest to us – our family and those we call our friends.

CD: And does your compassion include any related feelings?

I: Yes, I should say all the humane feelings that mankind is heir to: sympathy, kindness, consideration, gentleness and love.

CD: And would your compassion be great enough to include forgiveness?

I: That depends, Sir.

CD: Upon what?

I: Upon what was asked to be forgiven. Shall we require some form of justice in law to mediate for us and on our behalf, apportioning forgiveness or withholding it depending upon the judgment of those who sit at court and represent us in all our interests.

CD: I am in agreement with all you say, but take issue with all you do not say.

I: How can any man take offence at something I have not said. You had better explain yourself, Sir.

CD: And I will do it gladly, my friend. If, in administering our justice, as you call it, shall we rather realize that we are all potentially guilty of all crimes, even to murder and destruction.

I: How can we be charged – how can mankind be charged with having the potential to be murderers?

CD: Because we are made of the same stuff, that is why.

I: I cannot agree – you suppose that because we are all flesh and blood – and so much blood, that we are capable of dire offences of which we have justly been found guilty. Surely only those who were found to have murdered are actually guilty.

CD: They are, quite so. But, Sir, I said that we are potentially capable of heinous crimes, not that we are actually guilty of them, as you put it, did I not?

I: You did, Sir.

CD: And so I say that even the judge sitting in his high place of office – even he is capable of the lowest that any man can sink – even he.

I: How so?

CD: For the reason that if the conditions that beset him are identical, then he may act like the common criminal, even as he is made of the most worthy of material in other men’s eyes.

I: But will he not have his reason to command him, to stay him in his plunging his dagger into the heart of another, even to stay him from even drawing it?

CD: You are mistaking yourself and with it my words.

I: Did you not say ‘identical conditions’?

CD: I did, Sir, but you mistake the word ‘identical’ I mean ‘identical’ to the person so tested. What moves you to anger does not necessarily move me.

I: That is true. So what is your meaning of the phrase ‘identical conditions’ - they seem nothing of the sort.

CD: Identical conditions are those that move us in identical ways, even though they might well not be identical in any other way. Such is my meaning.

I: Then, Sir, if you are right, we should forgive any offence on the grounds that the conditions that moved the judge turned murderous knave were such that anyone might have acted to, and that would mean he would go unpunished.

CD: In judging men, we have to take many things into account, have we not?

I: Yes, and I hope we would.

CD: And that would include our empathizing with him, putting ourselves in his place for a moment, would it not?

I: Yes, I suppose it would.

CD: Then might we not come to the just conclusion that our judge was driven to a place where his reason was lost.

I: Then who are we to punish? Shall we all plead insane and be let off Scot free?

CD: No indeed, we shall not allow that to happen. All that I am pleading for is that we look deeply into the circumstances surrounding his supposed or should I say, his alleged offences, before we take him to the gallows at Tyburn.

I: And what would be our judgment on those who have offended?

CD: If found guilty, they should be meted out a just form of punishment. But in the fullness of time, once they have come to see the error of their ways, they should be allowed back into the fold, having served their time. Let us not be accused of damning out of hand for all time, lest in so doing we damn ourselves, committing ourselves to a walled cell and then to a pauper’s grave.

Let us rather remember the Danes and Saxons, how they are come amongst us and how they have turned out to be among the stoutest pillars of our society.
Robert L. Fielding

Benjamin Franklin

Tis Joy to see the human Blossoms blow,
When infant Reason grows apace, and calls
For the kind Hand of an assiduous Care;
Delightful Task! to rear the tender Thought,
To teach the young Idea how to shoot,
To pour the fresh Instruction o'er the Mind,
To breathe th' enliv'ning Spirit, and to fix
The generous Purpose in the glowing Breast.


Benjamin Franklin: I try to express myself in terms of modest diffidence; never using, when I advance anything that may be disputed, the words “certainly, undoubtedly”, but rather, “….I should think it so or so”, or “it is so, if I am not mistaken.” This habit, I believe, has been of great advantage to me when I have had occasion to inculcate my opinions and persuade men.

John Jackson: And why may that be, Mister Franklin?

BF: In order that I may not sound a bigot or self satisfied, but for a far greater reason too.

JJ: What may that be?

BF: Because, Sir, I have found, in the course of my life, through my readings but also through my observation of events, that what at first might appear to be an obvious cause of a thing that happens later, that it may be something else quite different that is the real cause.

JJ: And how did you mistake that initial cause for the real one, if I may ask?

BF: By a deeper look at the phenomenon, and by a certain amount of what I might call introspection – thinking to you and me. What one observes at the surface of any event, at first sight, generally needs more attention and a deal more thought too.

We are generally all too quick to jump in with answers to questions that have either been poorly formulated in the first place, or else omit so much as to be wholly incomplete. It is in the forming of the question that we generally err, for in seeking to answer an incomplete question, we delude ourselves that we have advanced our knowledge of whatever it is being observed, when in actual fact, all we have really done is show ourselves the extent of our ignorance.

JJ: Would you say then, that in many cases, we allow ourselves to be tricked?

BF: I would indeed, sir, and I would add that the frequency with which we allow ourselves to be tricked, as you say, is generally underestimated – that taking place all too often.

JJ: And why do you think that may be so, Sir?

BF: Perhaps it is something in our disposition to think too well of ourselves; that in finding one simple and easily found answer, we call it something grander than it has any rightful claim to be called, to make ourselves look grandiose in the eyes of others. It is I fault with all men, I have found, unless I am very much mistaken.

JJ: Could you furnish us with an example, Sir?

BF: I will try. In my many practical experiments with electricity, for example, I have often confounded myself from any real progress for a while, by my propensity to address problems by recourse to my incomplete knowledge. However, I believe that is how science in general progresses; not by startling discoveries, though they do undoubtedly occur from time to time, but rather by some previously held theory of some sort, being apparently proved erroneous by some later part of an experiment with the same.

It is in that way that we forward our knowledge of science; by disproving and moving on with some higher inkling of how such and such may operate.

JJ: But you use the word ‘inkling’ which to my mind is something more akin to a guess than a fact.

BF: I used it on purpose, and advisedly. First, forgive me; to see if you would pick up on the word and dispute it, which you have; and secondly to instill in you some indication of the nature of our knowledge of all things scientific.

JJ: Why do you use inkling then?

BF: AS I have hinted at; because our grasp of a complete understanding of the laws that move our planet and everything in it are at best in their infancy; that by admitting the same, I may not cause myself the fallacious thoughts such men as I are all too often prone to; the self delusion mentioned earlier.

I always ask myself whether I want to learn something of real value, or whether I want to puff my notions of myself as a man of science. I hope I prefer to arrive at the former condition; of learning something of real value.

Don’t you see, that man must not put himself first, but must rather use what has been handed down to us from God and from other learned men of ancient times – the power to reason!
Robert L. Fielding

Sir Isaac Newton

is that by which a moving body is perpetually urged towards a centre, and made to revolve in a curve, instead of a right line.

The centripetal force that draws the individual members of one nationality together.

Sir IssacNewton: Of the forces that are of Nature, binding us all to Earth, the centripetal force, is one which I think most applies to how we live on Earth as well as the laws by which we live, both in an absolute sense and a relative one.

Interlocutor: Why do you think that particular force can be applied to our lives? I take it you are speaking metaphorically.

IN: I am, indeed, though it is a way of expressing myself that I am unused to; being more used to the immutable laws of physics and the plasticity of man.

I: The plasticity of man is a strange phrase, what do you mean by it and how do you relate it to the centripetal forces that guide him in his social and his spatial world?

IN: I mean this; that in man’s societal movements, he does not feel himself bound by any immutable laws, although of course, he is, and that in his feeling not so bound, he moves in ways that seem at first not to make any sense to the mathematician or the physicist.

Man is a complex being, driven by laws of which we know only very little.

I: Is it not strange that men like you can express the laws by which our planet and others in our own solar system move, and yet are perplexed by the movements of men.

IN: It is indeed strange, made the more so by the fact that I am a man. We look outward as men, rather than inward, I think, and so we discover the worlds outside the confines of our own bodies.

I: Back to centripetal forces; why do you think that law is applicable to mankind?

IN: Because we are all drawn back to our roots, our origins, whatever those may be and wherever they may be.

I: I must think you are speaking on several different planes of meaning now, are you not?

IN: I am. Let me make a start by saying that our roots and our origins may not just be thought of a geographical, but rather spiritual and psychological, as well as relational.
What I mean by our spiritual origins, to which we are drawn over the course of our lives is that although we may stray in our thoughts and in our actions, there is something there to pull us back, some spark of goodness that is never quenched, even in the hardest heart.
There is a spiritual dimension to all of us, and if we allow ourselves, we can be drawn back to those spiritual origins to which I refer.

I: But why do so many seem to never return to those origins?

IN: You must realize that the centripetal laws that govern us seem weak and easily overcome, which they are. However, being laws, they are relentless in their presence upon us and even as we are committing dire offences against our own kind they are drawing us still.

What we need to do in times of peaceful solitude, is to allow those forces to draw us back to our spiritual home which is God. Like the forces of gravity, which cramp our movements and our wishes, this force, the force of our spirit, God, is everywhere, it is all around us and yet some hardly hear it or are even aware that it is there.

The poets expressed as much; ‘Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers.’ Is that not our folly, that constantly striving for more material wealth? Are we not constantly straying from God by losing our way among the paths of the mundane.

I: Why do you call them the paths of the mundane? What do you mean?

IN: By the paths of the mundane, I mean those paths that take us, not to the self-examined world, but to the unexamined self in which, as we have been told, is not worth the living.

I: Is that what you mean by the word mundane?

IN: It is. Can you not see that inhabiting a world of things is a poor substitute for living in one in which the spirit soars; ‘A robin in a cage sets all Heaven in a rage!’ So it is with humanity; we are held in the cages of our own making and devising, and in those cages and behind those bars we are denied access to the ways of our Maker – bound in love, in honesty and in friendship, not merely in contractual obligation, which we are as often wont to break, those being seemed by us to be greater chains, greater cages, when in fact they are nothing of the sort.

A man held in the most infamous prison cell can find God through his own ministering to his own true sprit from the prison house whence he came. ‘Shades of the prison house begin to close upon the growing boy.’ He needs no prison of steel bars and stone to hold him, but he can come to see the light, ‘But he beholds the light and whence it flows.’ It is in that beholding that comes his salvation; his finding himself again. That light shines through the darkest night, through the deepest mire and into the deepest dungeon cell.

We only have to prepare ourselves for that light to come back into our lives, dispelling those ‘shades of the prison house’, and filling our lives with light even if there is the blackest world all around us.

This is the truly centripetal force of which I speak, this force that is forever drawing us back to our home – our spiritual home, God. It is an immutable law, as immutable as any of those I have measured and displayed through my writing and my workings. It is as immutable as any of those – the physical laws that keep our feet firmly rooted to the ground.

I: But many do not know it, or if they do, work to go against it. Why is it they do that?

IN: Are they not led astray by others who are lost already. If I have lost all, I might wish you to have lost everything too; in that way, my loss does not seem so hard to bear. Being equal in our vacuity, we are full again, somehow made full vessels, and yet this is the way down to deeper levels of sin, to which the light of day does not penetrate.

I: So those that go deeper are as if blind in that darkness, are they not?

IN: Yes, they are, but even at that appalling depth of depravity, they can receive the light, for it is a constant, it is constant in its presence, even to the depths of man’s sin against his fellow man, even to the depth he may have stooped in his sin against God. His Forgiveness is present and can be availed by even the worst, simply by an avowal to quit those ways that have plummeted him to the depths he has reached in which he imagines all is lost.

All is never lost to God.
Robert L. Fielding

Galileo Galilei

“You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him to find it within himself.”

“In questions of science the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual.”

Interlocutor: Why do you say that you cannot teach a man anything, that you can only help him find it within himself?

G: For the very good reason that mankind is the font of all knowledge. Let him who would learn, learn about himself first. Once he has the knowledge of what he himself knows, he can go on to know the world – the universe.

Has man not found the laws of the Universe without going back in time, without travelling to the edges of the universe, and yet he knows the extent of its vastness, its properties, and whence it came into being.

I: But scientists worked out all that using mathematical formulae, and not, as you maintain, by knowing something about themselves.

G: Do you not think that any man who has the ability, the creative imagination, and the tenacity to continue where few have gone, do you not think such a man knows himself intimately?

I: Why should he know himself intimately? What has he to do with the laws of the universe?

G: We better go back to basics here, I think. First, do you think, do you imagine that knowledge is merely out there in the air, and merely has to be found?

I: No, I admit it has to be proven after lengthy experimentation, scientific conjecture, and testing hypotheses.

G: And do you imagine that anyone is capable of that, or should I say, anyone at any time?

I: What do you mean by that – anyone at any time?

G: I mean that although everyone, in theory, has the potential to work though anything, we know well enough, don’t we, that a person must work towards that point at which he or she is able to assimilate the processes of reasoning at such a level.

I: I am sure that anyone who aspires to such intellectual greatness has to work hard to attain that commanding height of scholarship, yes.

G: And do you think that person is the same person who undertook to begin that arduous journey of scholarship?

I: Of course it is the same person; being instantly recognizable by any former classmates or teachers.

G: I am not referring to a person’s physical likeness – his appearance!

I: Then to what are you referring?

G: That which cannot be readily seen.

I: Which is?

G: Which is that person’s inner self; that person’s spiritual self; that person’s intellect, which, I think you will agree, cannot be readily seen merely by looking at him.

I: That is true, although I hold it is possible to see something of that by looking into the person’s eyes. The eyes are the windows to the soul, I think it has been said, has it not?

G: That is well said. What other portal do you think opens up onto the invisible?

I: That person’s words.

G: Again true. Written, spoken or both?

I: Written and spoken are not the same thing at all, you know.

G: Why not? If they come as the same language, why and how are they not to be considered the same?

I: Because the spoken variety is uttered, it comes out with some spontaneity, in response, let us say, to a question.

G: Whereas?

I: Whereas the written word may take some time in the forming, in the formulation, I mean to say.

G: And why is that process different? Why is the mental process that produces the spoken variety of language different to the process that produces the written word?

I: I am not a psychologist or a linguist, and consequently am unable to determine with any degree of truth whether those processes vary.

G: And yet you would be willing to admit that were an expert linguist or speech therapist or such to say that they were different, wouldn’t you?

I: Of course I would, why do you ask?

G: For the very simple reason that such experts, particularly the linguist, has no access to the workings of the human mind except through inference and supposition rather than concrete proof.

I: Then how does he know what goes on in the human mind when it forms speech or begins to put pen to paper?

G: He works by theorizing and proposing, and when he finds that his supposed explanations do not hold up, or when they are replaced by something that does fit the facts better, only then does he move on. This is the nature of revolutions that are scientific in nature; they move on, not by startling discovery necessarily, but by disproving existing suppositions and demonstrating that a new theory fits better than the old paradigm used to.

I: And so although he may not look inside the skull, as you infer, he supposes processes to be taking place.

G: Partly, yes, and in part by modern technologies allowing to look into heads and see which areas ‘light up’ when, for instance, a question is answered and when such an answer is written.

Apart from that, where do you suppose he finds his suppositions?

I: Why, from his learning.

G: Whose source is?

I: Books, primarily.

G: And from another important source?

I: Which is?

G: Himself.

I: How?

G: In his fertile, creative imagination.

I: Wait, are you saying linguists dream theories up?

G: Not at all. You have put your own interpretation on the term ‘creative imagination’, have you not?

I: I was not aware that I had. No doubt you can inform me otherwise.

G: Let me ask you a question: How is it that a man sitting comfortably in an armchair, in front of a roaring fire, smoking a briar of his favourite tobacco, how is that man quite suddenly to have what might be termed a revelation connected to his course of study?

I: Is he reading a book?

G: He is not. He is relaxing, as I said, in the warm glow of a good fire in his hearth, smoking a pipeful of good tobacco. He is the picture of contentment, and yet something is troubling him

I:What is troubling him? I thought you said he was relaxed.

G: He is very relaxed. What is troubling him is not some everyday concern over an unpaid bill or a word said out of turn in the scullery, but rather something that will not square, as we say.

Take my own subject and conjecture, if you prefer. Let us say that a young and able scientist, a scholar at Cambridge University; let us say he is pondering over the mathematics of the beginning of the Universe. He has gone over his calculations a hundred times in the last hour. Then, without warning, someone says something to him that is quite unrelated to his mathematical dilemma; perhaps it is the carriage in which he is about to travel homeward, taking a momentary backward leap before pulling out.

A lady sitting opposite says something like, “Leaving Cambridge is always different, never quite what you expect.” – a chance remark of seemingly little import to any listener other than he pondering the mathematics of the beginnings of the Universe.

All of a sudden, it hits him that he has been postulating the movement of time in one direction, to little or no avail, when he quickly and with some enlightenment, which colours his countenance and opens his eyes, and imagines time taken as moving in the absolutely opposite direction.

Upon that swift realization hangs his whole hypothesis. Yet the stimulus that propelled the thought was something on the movements of a horse drawn vehicle leaving the English city of Cambridge.

How comes that to be so?

I: I cannot imagine.

G: That is the very best, fullest answer you could have given.

I: Why?

G: For the very reason that your creative imagination is not so tuned in as you might wish.

I: Or that I was not thinking so deeply on the subject.

G: Yes, just so.
Robert L. Fielding


“To know that we know what we know, and to know that we do not know what we do not know, that is true knowledge.”

Copernicus: What passes for knowledge is the enemy of real knowledge.

Interlocutor: Whereas we have always thought of ignorance as the enemy of knowledge, have we not?

C: We have, but if we think for more than a minute; if we allow ourselves to think clearly, we soon come to realize what our history books tell us is not always right, not always the truth, but is rather someone’s version of the truth. What we must look for in anything held by some as a truth is who stands to benefit by the version espoused as the truth.

I: And as it is in history, so it is now, in the modern era.

C: You must inform me of developments past my time.

I We are constantly harangued by what pass for fact when in actuality it is no more than a conjecture that has taken hold and been promoted so vehemently and so righteously as a subject with the objectivity of a physical science.

C: What is the subject of which you speak?

I: Why, economics; the study and explanation of shortages and gluts, of dearths and surpluses, and how man behaves in relation to them.

C: In what way is that connected to my words? You must explain yourself.

I: I will. First though, we must go back to a time when man tilled the soil, ate what he grew, or slew in the case of the hunter gatherer. Man worked to keep himself alive, as did others.

C: But surely you must understand that once man made a surplus from his harvest, he had to rid himself of it or let it rot on the stalk. What could he do at this juncture?

I: I do not think it was like that. Right away, we assume man is selfish, that he sees his best way as looking after his own interests first before that of others around him.

C: But surely that must have been how it was? Man as a selfish brute, living in a state of Nature, as we have been told by many. Surely such a man living at such a time would have done well to tend to his own needs before those of his neighbours.

I: But is that true? You forget that man was, is but a small figure on our Earth. He is a slow crawler on the hills; cannot bear loads like any ox or horse, cannot withstand the extremes of temperature, like any wild boar, and yet you insist that he must have been selfish; that that was his only chance to survive – in the face of the world all around him, fierce in tooth and claw.

We are constantly led to believe that man is selfish by Nature; that this is proven by his survival from those harsh days of the Stone and Iron Ages to today’s cosseted example, surrounded by every comfort to stay Nature and keep it in its rightful place – under his control. Do you imagine Nature has always been under his control? Do you imagine man acting selfishly could have survived through the darkest ages known in the history of man on this planet without cooperation rather than selfishness?

C: Since you put it that way, it does seem difficult to believe that he could have survived on his own without the cooperation of his fellow man.

I: Exactly, and yet from the cradle, almost, we have been led to believe that man is first and foremost a selfish brute, acting like the animals he slays for the meat that sustains him and for the fur that clothes him.
I never heard of man acting socially, together with other men; to fight a bear or drag a log across rough land; acting together to protect themselves from winters that would have felled the mightiest warrior or the weakest child. And yet that is how it must have been; in that so called ‘state of Nature’ in which philosophers, men of science and such, had us standing alone against animals twice our size and bent upon our destruction for them to devour us in their need, being at least as great as our own.

Have we not swallowed the theory of the survival of the fittest; a theory that deals with each species as it develops; as each sub-species of finch develops its beak to prize open the hardest shell to get at what lay beneath; have we not accepted such theories to explain the development of all God’s creatures, and yet withheld it from theories of our own survival down the long, long years from man’s earliest dawn unto this his latest dusk.

Have we not prided ourselves in our mastery of all things natural – taming of beasts, make the mountains bare their feet; lay the new cut forests at their feet; to turn a river in its bed, or plant a barren wilderness with wheat, as one man has written?

C: Yes, we most certainly have.

I: And we have done it, not by the sweat of our own brow, but collectively, by the sweat of all our brows. Could we have done those triumphal things alone, standing as one man, with but two arms to swing an axe, two legs to ford a stream in flood and flee from the bear bounding towards us in breathless hunger? Could we have done all that acting alone?

C: Surely not. But how does that bear on what we do today?

I: What we have assumed man capable of, standing alone, working things out whilst accounting himself as one not as many, we have allowed to creep into our theories until it possesses an invisibility, covered as it is with so much rhetoric, so much extrapolation, with man now placed at the very centre of the known Universe, not merely as one man among many men, but as Man; as Mankind, as a superman able to leap a gorge in a single bound.

We have allowed ourselves to be duped into believing we are something we have never been – Homo Insularus – Man as An Island!

Copernicus: You think man is more of a social being than an insular one, do you?

Interlocutor: No man is an island, it has been said, and I will go one step further and say that mankind is a series of linked lands – a continent of humanity.

C: And do you think that man conjured, for now that is the only way I can conceive of him, do you think that holding that man is essentially insular in nature has had a detrimental effect upon his existence upon Earth?

I: Since man has come to be thought of as first rational before human, then yes, I think our whole development in what we term the civilized world has been adversely affected by this way of looking at him.

C: Why do you think that?

I: Because over the centuries that man has existed alongside his fellow man – his fellow man, I say, his compatriot on this Earth, there are those who have always benefited from his being thought of as entirely selfish; the whole subject of Economics is predicated upon Man as an island, rather than Man as a truly social being.

This unit of production; called labour in economic terminology, is acting in the best way he can when he is acting out in his own interests. He is acting properly, as he should be doing, according to those gurus that inform our commercial and business interests and the way they are organized.

Whole armies of economists trained in our universities, by professors and lecturers who wholeheartedly believe that man is acting in his own best interests when he is behaving selfishly. Not only acting in his best interests, but acting in the only way. To do otherwise, they hold, is to act in a wholly irrational manner, and as such should not be considered in any other way that acting under a species of insanity.

C: And do you think that this has found its way to the way the man in the street, as we call the ordinary person, has this way of thinking percolated down to him/

I: Of course it has. Modern man has always thought that he is doing right when he acts alone. Only those who work in the heavy industries of shipbuilding and coal mining have come to think differently.

C: Why is that?

I: Because they know the reality of the matter; they know that they cannot exist in their place of work without the full cooperation of their fellow working men. You cannot build ocean going liners of hew coal without strong teams of men pulling in the same direction to overcome the heaviest of work.

C: And what effect has that had upon those who work in those heavy industries?

I: They have formed trade unions, the vanguard of the socialist state.

C: But they have been demonized by powerful interest groups until they practically cease to exist.

I: But that type of industry ceases to exist, at least in Western nations, doesn’t it? It ceases to exist, but the sprit behind that way of working still beats in the breasts of those who worked in that way. There is still a remnant of socialism even in those countries in which it has been wholly discredited?

C: Why is that?

I: Because man is still a social being, despite what he is told in textbooks at university and through the closed minds but open mouths of the media. He is essentially a social animal, even like the humble ant.

Copernicus: And surely, since I come to think about it, man requires the cooperation and assistance of other men in many of his endeavours, commercial or otherwise.

Interlocutor: He surely does. One need only think of farming, bringing in the harvest, which, having to be done in a limited amount of time, requires the help of many.

C: But this was traditionally done by villagers working together, yes?

I: Yes, that is right, whereas now the gentleman farmer, which is to say the owner of that piece of land and the machinery that services it, that man employs labour to collect In his grain, his barley or his wheat.

C: Or utilizes machinery thereby removing the need to employ labour.

I: And the more he uses machinery and the less he relies on paid labour, the better he accounts himself to his financial masters and to his peers. In effect, what he is telling the world is, ‘I am standing alone and surviving.’

C: Not only surviving, but flourishing.

I: Giving further proof that man is acting in his own best interests when he acting alone. Even the language he uses testifies to this remoteness; he uses words like employs and refers to hired men as employees, labour, to be factored into equations in the same way that plant, capital, land and machinery are factored in, as units that he must try to reduce in order to make that most iniquitous of outcomes – a profitable venture – accounting success in terms only of the profits he makes at the end of the day.

Never mind that he has abused the earth that sustains all, that he has alienated the farm labourer from the land he previously occupied and lived off. All that is factored out as extraneous to the equation, by economists applauding the business that hires none at all. Man is an island, they state, and prove it daily by looking down those rows of figures in business accounts, rather than looking at the haggard and work thrown on the scrapheap of humanity by modern techniques that require bigger fields, more chemical input and fewer men.

Is it any wonder that man is alienated by work that uses him as little more than an arm – a limb to lift and carry, when a man is human, not robot, thinking not automated, feeling not mechanical.

Who shall say he works best when he works alone; the very nature of his work demands that he is a man of many, a member of a grouping – be it a team in the bowels of a ship, unloading cargo, or at the bottom of a mine hewing coal from a face yea a sight harder than that wall over there. He must act alone in his dealings with his employer. If he acts in tandem with his fellow man – the way he is forced to work though his day, if he represents or is represented by another, he is penalized, demonized and ultimately thrown out of work because he is held to be acting in ways that go counter to the ways of civilized men.

As it is with the businessman, so it must be with the man hired to do his work; he needs must stand alone in his dealings to better his income, even when the odds are so heavily stacked in favour of the employer at the expense of the employee who does the work.
Robert L. Fielding


Concepts that have proven useful in ordering things easily achieve such authority over us that we forget their earthly origins and accept them as unalterable givens.

Whether you can observe a thing or not depends on the theory which you use. It is the theory which decides what can be observed.

I believe in intuition and inspiration. Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution. It is, strictly speaking, a real factor in scientific research.

Einsten: The whole world is ours to observe, to see, and understand, and yet we still only understand a fraction of what there is to understand. Don’t you agree, my friend?

Interlocutor: I am not sure I do agree with you. Surely, when man has set foot on the Moon, split the atom, conquered the darkest regions of the Earth, we must b near to an almost com plete understanding of our world, it seems to me.

E: Yet look around you. Do not people die of starvation or illness related to malnutrition still in many parts of the world? How can you say in all seriousness that we are even close to understanding our world when minute by minute children die.

I: But they have always died, haven’t they?

E: Yes, they have, and we seem powerless to stop it.

I: I thought we were talking about what we understand, and yet you use the word ‘powerless’.

E: Well said, my friend. You are perfectly right. We may know how to stop the child dying, but we lack the ability – the power – to do it, more is the pity.

I: By why do we have the knowledge and yet not the ability? Surely if we know something, then we are able to use that knowledge to do something – in this case, prevent a child from dying.

E: There is a great deal of difference between knowledge and ability, and between having that ability and using it, I should say.

I: Do you not think that with the state of our advanced knowledge, and you must surely admit that we have such an advanced state of knowledge – surely with our advanced state of knowledge, we are in a position to prevent such things from happening.

E: Children die in Africa and elsewhere, not through a global lack of sustenance – food and water – but rather through a localized problem, in many cases.

Is it not true that countries in which children die of starvation and illness related to malnutrition, are invariably net exporters of food?

I: I have heard that to be true, yes. Is it not a terrible state of affairs?

E: Right away, I take issue with your words. You say that it is a terrible state of affairs.

I: You think terrible too weak a word. I agree.

E: One adjective will do just as well as another. It is with your phrase, ‘state of affairs’ that I dislike.

I: Why?

E: For the very simple reason that it implies a sort of inevitability – as though it is impossible to change – that is how the world is managed, it infers.

I: But is that not how the world is? Do children not die every day, whatever we call the conditions?

E: So they do, my friend, so they do. And yet we still accord the orthodoxies of economics as laws, in the same way that we talk of the law of gravity or the laws of thermodynamics, when in reality they are nothing of the sort.

I: If they are not laws, what are they?

E: They are synthesized theories made to look like laws, taught in our universities, by learned mean and women, as if they were laws, and then they are perpetuated in the world of trade and commerce as if they were just that, immutable laws, the going against of which is wholly illogical, and thus rendered incomprehensible.

I: I will go further and say that not only are they taught in our universities, a fact that gives them universal acceptability, but then successive Western governments of whatever political hue, are bound by their pretexts and their edicts until they assume the status of laws of a legal kind, on the statute books of Western liberal democracies.

If recent events in the financial world have taught us anything, they have taught us that the so called laws of economics, and the world run along the lines of liberal, free trade economics, called by us ‘ capitalism’ is indeed a sham of such gargantuan proportions that it has been responsible for the humbling of national European governments, dictated to by banking corporations, who, being ‘bailed out’ by elected bodies, then have the audacity to further confront all with their assumed invincibility by giving their directors incredibly, unbelievably high bonuses.

Working people across the United States of America, the wealthiest nation on Earth, have been forcibly evicted from their own home, driven out by those to whom they are in debt, finding themselves, in any case, put out of full time paid employment by the very laws the Western world holds up as paragons of virtue in an academic as well as a practical sense.

How can we say that capitalism is superior to any other economic system when it has been responsible for such calamity and catastrophe?

E: Let us not forget children dying, either.
Robert L. Fielding

Abraham Lincoln

The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.

Abraham Lincoln: Did not one of your countrymen say ‘It is almost as difficult to make a man unlearn his errors as his knowledge. Mal-information is more hopeless than non-information; for error is always more busy than ignorance. Ignorance is a blank sheet, on which we may write; but error is a scribbled one, on which we must first erase. Ignorance is contented to stand still with her back to the truth; but error is more presumptuous, and proceeds in the same direction. Ignorance has no light, but error follows a false one. The consequence is, that error, when she retraces her footsteps, has further to go, before she can arrive at the truth, than ignorance.’

Interlocutor: I believe so, it was Charles Caleb Colton. Why do you quote him here?

AL: Because, as I have said, the dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. And while we have men who think they know the answers to our most pressing problems lie in those tried and tested formulae used a thousand times before, we must make ourselves aware that we are preparing ourselves to fail in the solving of those problems.

I: Can you be more specific; which problems?

AL: Those problems that attach themselves to old thorns – greed and avarice, corruption, partiality and those venal sins the man of commerce is unfortunately heir to on the occasion of his acquiring a love of money for its own sake.

I: You sound as if you are somewhat Machiavellian in your outlook, sir.

AL: In what way?

I: Why, sir, by your insinuating that the ends justify the means.

AL: That is exactly the polar opposite of my stance where the making of a dollar is concerned. It is the means that justify the ends; it is the making of the dollar that justifies our earning of it and pocketing it. The dollar in itself has no intrinsic value other than that which can be purchased with it.
To love it for its own sake, which is to say to love it merely for the having it in one’s own pocket, is tantamount to the way to ruin.

I: Ruin, sir, whose ruin? Surely not the man who has the dollar safely ensconced in his own pocket.

AL: Just so sir, his ruin.

I: But why his? Has he not earned his dollar?

AL: He has, but in earning it, he has coveted it, and those dollars he looks forward to pocketing.

I: But that is surely the main premise upon which commerce proceeds – growth.

AL: It is the promise of growth – the striving for it, that foretells our doom, is it not?

I: How can that be, sir? Is not economic growth the mainstay of our economic system – the system that sustains us?

AL: Look around you. Look at the plundering of farmland, inherited by us from our forebears the native Americans. Did they plunder the land?

I: They most definitely did not, but then their concern was with living within their means, keeping the land as a resource that would sustain them through the long North American winters and the harsh summers, was it not?

AL: They lived within their means, as you righty said. Now, what are those means?

I: Living within one’s means is the same as living with the money at your disposal, surely.

AL: But you have said nothing about living within the limits that the land can sustainably provide, have you?

I: For the very good reason that we have traditionally looked upon the land we live on and off as ours to do with as we please, have we not?

AL: We have, and therein lies the heart of our problems, the crux of our difficulties, of the dilemma we now face. For consider, the indigenous population, a people our kind have been wont to call primitive, knew well what the land would support and what it would not, whereas the supposedly more sophisticated, intelligent and more aware individual we call the businessman, seems, by the actions he takes and dictates to others to take, to either know very little of the land’s limitations, or else sees himself able to overlook those limits, preferring to leave it to future generations to pick up the pieces and repair what he has left amiss.

I: But you also spoke of man coveting the dollar – loving money for its own sake, dod you not?

AL: I did so. It is the acquisition of wealth, and the accumulation of wealth, that man is drawn into his love of it; his desire for more of it; much more than he can ever spend in his own lifetime. Why does he do that, I wonder?
I think it is the momentum of the bank balance, galloping ever upwards, ever higher, until he sees the rows of noughts, signifying the multiples of 10 until he sees rows of six, nine or more, and by that he accounts himself something he is not.

I: What is that?

AL: A person of great worth in the eyes of others.

I: But surely he is of great worth?

AL: Spoken like a man of your time, my friend. The rich are not necessarily of great worth, even though they invariably seen as such.

I: If they are seen as men of great worth, surely they are just that, are they not?

AL: WE are back to ‘the Emperor’s new clothes, a story by Hans Christian Anderson, are we not?

I: By that, I take you to mean that just because the multitude sees the same thing, it does not mean it is that thing. Am I right?

AL: You are, my friend. There are some values of ours that have been lost through their being unused, until man comes to the point at which he no longer knows what to believe, or only believes what others believe. The schoolyard comes with us into adulthood, I am afraid.

I: Why do you say that?

AL: Because I maintain that the pressure of the many is such a formidable force that only a brave man will go against it. To do so is to invite the censure of everyone, and no one wants to bring that upon themselves.
Besides, we have our so called ‘gurus’ – men of superior knowledge – who insist that we believe it. An inherently odious form of corruption is that which makes better men knowingly inform others that what they say is in their best interests when in reality it is diametrically opposed to them.

I: And who are such men?

AL: The good and the great of society: politicians, academics, teachers, employers, and anyone who coerces common sense in the name of the common good.

I: Surely if something is in the common good, it is of great value, is it not?

AL: Ah, you are falling into the trap set for you. The common good, so we are led to believe, is anything that makes us financially better off.

I: But surely, if something, some course of action makes us finically better off, is it not good?

AL: That is to use but one dimension of what is accounted good, and one only, is it not?

I: How so?

AL: Because man and the world in which he lives runs on a very different fuel to the one to be found in bank vaults.

I: What goods are they?

AL: If you have to ask, that seals your fate, that signals to me that you are taken in wholly, that you are a man of your time.

I: Along with millions of others, yes.

AL: Quite so!
Robert L. Fielding

Thomas Jefferson - the 3rd President of the USA

From his Inaugural Addresses

“All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.”

Interlocutor: You say that the rights of the minority must always be protected, along with the rights of those in the majority. Surely the majority‘s rights are what matter most in a democracy, aren’t they?

TJ: They do matter, indeed, but no more so than the rights of people who happen to find themselves in a minority. You must never forget, my friend, that every single person has rights that may not be removed, made null and void, or infringed in any way.

I: So the rights of minorities are sacrosanct, are they?

TJ: Quite so. However, even in democracies such as ours, minorities are under some kind of pressure. Belonging to a minority is often not a matter of choice. People are born into them; people find they belong to them because of how they think, the things they do, and a host of other ways they choose to live their lives.

I: But surely, if a person chooses freely to live in one way rather than another, he chooses to live at variance with the majority, doesn’t he?

TJ: Can you honestly say that a person is free to choose in every instance? Is the homosexual free to choose to be one, or is his choice made for him by forces, shall we say, over which he has no control. There are some who say that one is born into a community, whatever that community happens to be, in many cases, though not all, I admit.

I: Let us take a less obvious case; a schoolboy chooses to think in certain ways, to be interested in things that his fellow pupils care naught about.

TJ: A good example, but you will have to elaborate further in order for us to decide rationally whether that boy chose freely, and if he did so, should he not be left alone to get on with his life in the way he sees fit.

I: That is right, I will have to elaborate. Let us say that this particular boy chooses to be a model pupil: he attends regularly and comes early; he pays attention, and does what his teacher asks of him diligently; and more, he becomes genuinely interested in what he is learning.

TJ: And the majority of his classmates, what of them?

I: They seem to choose to not attend, to pay no particular attention to what the teacher says, and choose not to be interested in the subject.

TJ: You say that they choose certain courses of action?

I: They seem like courses of inaction to me. They choose not to be engaged with the subject being taught.

TJ: And they may choose freely not to have their interest and their attention engaged, but I do think that since many act that way, there is something else going on here.

I: Something else, what else?

TJ: Peer group pressure, which we may sometimes call ‘bullying’ when a person is targeted and then systematically persecuted in one way or another.

I: But how can peer group pressure make the many decide not to have their interest and their attention engaged by a particular teacher’s lesson?

TJ: Peer group pressure is often a silent, ominous force that is acted out in ways that are subtle, and also in ways that are less so, being very overt.

I: Boys are ‘sent to Coventry’ as we say.

TJ: Or physically bullied, yes.

I: Or mentally bullied?

TJ: Indeed. It is this mental bullying which I would like us to think about, because I think it goes on well past the days of a boy’s schooling, into his adult life.

A young person chooses to exercise his right to live his life in the way he sees fit, to remain interested in those things that gained his attention as a boy at school. Let us say that he found his interest in watching bird life and recording what he saw. More than that; let us say that he lives his life along lines that are influenced by his love of and wonder at the life of birds in woodlands and on lakes.

His life takes shape in ways that it would not have done were he to have gone along with the ways his classmates conducted their lives. He was scholarly, they were not; he was diligent and fastidious, they were not; he remained in a minority of one, they ran with the crowd.

We must now ask whether he should be made to live his life in ways that are similar to those others, or whether he has a right to continue living his life as he alone sees fit.

I: Surely nobody could object to his choosing to live his life in the way he chooses to live it.

TJ: And people do not usually object, at least not overtly so. But nevertheless, he finds that he is ostracized by the many; that he does not ‘fit in’, as we say.

I: But he has chosen to be that way, to live his life in a different way, taking roads that are different to those trod by the many.

TJ: And was he not free to choose to go in that one direction?

I: Of course he was free.

TJ: Then he must remain free from the fetters that the majority would bind him in, wouldn’t you say?

I: Certainly.

TJ: And that, my friend is why we must remove the so called ‘tyranny of the majority’; not just because we think our young friend has the right, but also because other like-minded individuals must never be discouraged from choosing to take the road less travelled, for, as Mr. Frost says, that has made all the difference.

I: I see, so our defending the rights of majorities is, in fact, encouraging diversity in our species.

TJ: Correct, diversity of thought, word and deed, leading to a healthy, more creative society in which people can feel free to follow their dreams. Does not our Constitution defend our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

I: It does indeed.

TJ: Then that last mentioned right – the right to the pursuit of happiness – is furthered and realized in that one man’s right to lead his life in the way he freely chooses.

I: Providing, I have to say, that the way he lives his life does not interfere in any way with the way others live their lives.

TJ: Of course, that is correct, and in that way we can see that everyone’s rights are upheld, be they members of majorities or otherwise.
Robert L. Fielding

George Washington

Interlocutor: You say that happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected. Why do you think that is so?

George Washington: To answer that, we must first define what we mean by happiness, and what we mean by the phrase, ‘moral duty’.

I: Happiness is that warm glow one feels from contentment, is it not?

GW: That is poetically put. And from what, may I enquire, does that contentment flow?

I: Why, from the feeling that all is right with the world.

GW: With that one person’s world, or the whole world?

I: With that one person’s particular sphere.

GW: That and no other? That is curious; should we always feel that way, we would be a very insular species indeed, would we not? The saying, ‘No man is an island’ would have no truth about it, would it?

I: No, it wouldn’t. I see what you mean. Let me say then, that one person’s sense of contentment stems from the knowledge that all is well in his own particular sphere, and that of his friends and family.

GW: Again, I would argue that is too narrow a grouping to give the man in question true happiness.

I: But, sir, if he is content; if all is well with his friends and his family, what more can he ask?

GW: What of that larger grouping of people who contribute to that contentment, that condition that all is well with the world? What of that – those groups of people, I should say, for they are many.

I: Which groupings of people do you refer?

GW: Well, let us begin with the man’s immediate surroundings, spatial, social, temporal: firstly, we may justly and rightly speak of the community closest to him, shouldn’t we?

I: His friends and his family?

GW: Yes, those, surely, but there are other individuals who would comprise that community, don't you not think?

I: The people he comes into contact with in the course of his working day.

GW: And those he does not necessarily contact.

I: Why should we consider those important?

GW: Do we not stand and fall in this world of ours by our reputation – our standing in society?

I: Yes, I see what you mean. He doesn’t necessarily meet the people who contribute to his standing – those who report his good deeds, you mean?

GW: As well as those who report his bad deeds – whom we sometimes term ‘gossips’.

I: Why should we consider people who do not have a good word for him?

GW: For the very good reason that a man’s standing in society is not a constant, fixed, entity; it rises and falls sometimes without his either acting or knowing why it has risen or fallen.

I: You mean his fame.

GW: Fame is too defined a name for what I am talking about; I mean rather just what I spoke of – his standing, which is neither his fame or reputation – both of which can carry weight that is not proportional to his real worth – the one being usually a positive quality, the other either positive or negative, usually the former. His standing, as I have said, is not a fixed component.

I: On what does it depend, if it is not fixed?

GW: On his own behavior, certainly, and on his behavior in relation to his peers and neighbours, the community he himself is a part.

I: But his standing is surely constructed by others, not by him. Is that not the case?

GW: Partially, yes. If his own behavior is reprehensible to others, his standing will suffer; if it is laudable, it will rise.

I: But there are always those who act out of baser motives; who might have jealously as their reason to tear him down off his pedestal. It seems, doesn’t it, that once one attains a high standing in society, there are always enough people to want to see him taken down a peg or two, aren’t there?

GW: Yes, indeed there are.

I: What of them?

GW: He should be kind even to them; generous in spirit, even to them.

I: Even to them? Why in the name of all that is true and just should he be kind to his detractors?

GW: For just that reason; that they are his detractors. Should he go out and punish them? Or should he work diligently to alter their erroneous opinion of him?

I: But they might never change their low opinion of him.

GW: Is that true? Will a man persist in his low opinion of another, even as that man performs a kindness to him? I would say that is a very rare thing – a man who hates upon no grounds.

I: So you would tell the man to be good and kind to all, would you?

GW: Yes, I would.

I: Even to those who denounce him to others?

GW: Especially to them.

I: And if he does that, what of him? What can we say of him ?

GW: That he has performed his moral duty.

U: Ah, so you would say that moral duty is done out of a selfish motive, would you?

GW: No, it is the glue that holds society together. Is that selfishness or good sense?

I: It would seem to be sensible, but you said that a man of high standing should court popularity, did you not?

GW: Indeed I did not say that. I said that he should educate with kindness, not with retribution. Too much of the trouble in the world is done by this latter means; punishing as a way of educating.

I: But is this not an effective way of teaching people a lesson, one they will never forget?

GW: You said it, they will never forget it. And what, may I ask, will they never forget the most, do you think?

I: The injustice of how they were treated.

GW: Exactly right, and that will motivate them to do worse, not better. Man is hardly ever made to commit wrong when treated with kindness, don’t you agree?

I: I do, but man will act in his own best interests, won’t he?

GW: He will, and what do you take those to be?

I: As he perceives them.

GW: Certainly, but does he not bring a certain amount of rational thought to this perception.

I: I am sure he does.

GW: And in so doing, will he not recall those who did him favours – did him a kindness, and will he not think it in his best interests to foster their good opinion of him, so that he will further benefit from their positive attitude to him?

I: I am not sure everybody always behaves in that ideal way.

GW: It is nevertheless, an ideal, is it not?

I: It is certainly an ideal.

GW: And we should work towards ideals, in our life, should we not?

I: We should, yes.

GW: We should, and it is our moral duty to do so. Then we can be truly happy, safe in the real knowledge that we have done our moral duty.
Robert L. Fielding

Sir Winston Churchill - Tenacity

Never give in, never give in, never; never; never; never - in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.

You cannot tell from appearances how things will go. Sometimes imagination makes things out far worse than they are; yet without imagination not much can be done.
Those people who are imaginative see many more dangers than perhaps exist; certainly many more than will happen; but then they must also pray to be given that extra courage to carry this far-reaching imagination.

Robert L. Fielding: You say, ‘Never give in’, Sir, but what if your fear conquers you?

Sir Winston Churchill: We should, I think, first talk about that word – what it means, and what people are afraid of, before we speak of how to never give in, even when the fear inside you says ‘Enough!’ Fear is surely only apprehension of a hurt or a danger, of something going amiss. I do not think fear is an emotion that has any basis in one’s real circumstance.

RLF: But surely, if a man feels he is falling off a cliff, he will be afraid of falling and being killed, will he not?

SWC: He most surely will be afraid. But, my contention is, Sir, that he feels fear before he falls, not while he is falling. The fall deadens his feelings just as surely as the impact when he hits the ground will deaden him. It is the apprehension of the fall that gives him fear, and, as I have said, ‘We have nothing to fear except fear itself’.

RLF: Why did you say that? What did you mean?

SWC: I meant that fear is the moment before the fall, not the fall itself. Yet that fear can make a man immobile, make him as though he were hewn from stone – from granite.

RLF: Can we learn from that? What can we take from that thought?

SWC: We can be like granite – granite-like, I should say, for were we to have remained immobile in those hours of our deadliest danger, we should have perished. Instead, the tyrant and his armies found us granite-like but mobile, conquering our fear of being conquered, and that was why I said what I did, when I did.

RLF: It was a timely utterance, was it not?

SWC: It was indeed, and yet I know enough of my fellow countryman to know him to be steadfast in belief, and we stood alone against all threats to our sovereignty and ourselves, and that we did by first overcoming our fear, even in the face of such an imminent fall.

RLF: You speak of imagining things far worse than they are?

SWC: I did indeed, and I must now speak of my own imagination – imagining things far better than they are, for that is my own fortitude bearing on me. I have been in desperate straits in my life – in South Africa, in Sudan, and standing before tyranny of all hues and dyes, there being but one – black! I have had the fortitude of mind, of spirit, to go on when every sinew in my body cried out to stay and capitulate. Yet, I never, never would, and nor will I ever do so.

RLF: So you overcame your fear, did you?

SWC: I am not so sure that overcame is the word I would use to describe my bearing in times of great peril. To overcome fear might be to ignore it, and that is something that might prove injurious, were we to do it.

RLF: Why would that be?

SWC: Because a certain amount of fear is vital to one’s excelling. As a junior Minister, having to stand at the Despatch Box in the House of Commons, I would almost tremble with trepidation at what I had to do – convince the whole House that what I was saying was correct – the right and proper thing to do.

RLF: How did fear help you, Sir?

SWC: It prepared my mind, as certainly as if my mind were a patch of land upon which furrows had to be made, wheat sewn and harvested in the fullness of time. My mind being prepared meant that I was aware of the enormity of what I had to do, and also that I was equal to the task of doing it.

Can you understand me? My fear, my limited and controlled fear was a tool I used to found the steel of my resolve. I tempered it with the power of my oratorical skills, learned from standing on soap boxes in Oldham and the like while still yet a little green and wet behind the ears. Yet even then, I have seen the power of my own words, how they moved strong men to action, women to tears, and children to ball. For make no mistake, Sir, words are the tools of my trade, and I have conquered my own fear and helped to conquer the fears of my fellows in time of warfare with them.

Let those who face us be afraid, let those who dare to confront our freedoms live in fear for their safety. We will never live under the yoke of tyranny, and will not fear anyone who does not walk in ways that are not ours, or those of the Lord, our God.

RLF: Let us now think about the imagination. You say that sometimes imagination makes things seem far worse than they are. Surely it can make things seem far better than they are too.

SWC: Indeed, I did say that. It seems to me, Sir, that you can just given as nice a definition of pessimism and of optimism as you are ever likely to hear.

RLF: Yes, and that despite ‘things’ being as they are – in reality.

SWC: Ah, reality. What is that exactly?

RLF: It is the actuality of events.

SWC: You are using semantics, Sir, not logic. Can we say that the here and now is reality? What is happening now is real, would you say?

RLF: Yes, of course.

SWC: But as soon as the present becomes the past, is it still reality?

RLF: Surely, it happened, so it must be real.

SWC: But then it is reported – someone relates what happens – how is that real?

RLF: Why is it not real? If you report what has passed here, would it not be real?

SWC: You can say that even in the face of my putting my own gloss on events, enlarging my part in our conversation at the expense of your own, putting your words into my mouth, and mine into yours. Would you still call that reality?

RLF: No, I see what you mean.

SWC: What we call reality – the reality of the past – history, if you will, is always one particular version of events – in battle, the victor’s, in peace, the legislator’s, never the vanquished, or the downtrodden. Their reality would be quite different, would it not?

Were you to ask the defeated of the events of that day in 1815, at the battle of Waterloo, were you to ask the French, they would speak of fortunes of war, of the inclement weather, of the timely arrival of the Prussians. They would say nothing of their own shortcomings, of the Grand Armee’s slavish obedience to that upstart Emperor recently come from Elba to lead his nation against ours. That would be for us to outline in the catalogue of the day’s defeat of the French, for make no mistake, the victor is just as likely to embellish the truth every bit as the vanquished.

RLF: So there is no reality?

SWC: I think reality is a device, if you will, that we use to justify our actions. The imagination is more real than you might imagine, if you forgive my phrasing.

RLF: How can that be? How can something one imagines be real?

SWC: Because it informs actions. You imagine you are about to be defeated in battle, and your valiance is impaired.

RFL: But some might be spurred on by the thought they might be defeated, might they not?

SWC: They might, and that is true fortitude in the face of impossible odds. That is what this race of people possessed in those dark years of the early years of the Second World War, when we stood alone against the might of Germany’s advances to the very shores of mainland Europe. We may well have imagined we were on the verge of catastrophe, but we did not give in to those thoughts, we never allowed ourselves to be defeated in spirit, and a nation that does that can never be defeated, even in the jaws of that monstrous being – defeat.

RLF: So you are saying that although imagination may tell you one thing, you are at will to act in another, are you not?

SWC: I am. Just so. And in that lies the seeds of real freedom – the freedom of the spirit, for that can never be owned or directed if it is not wished for devoutly. It is the frustration of the tyrant – that in spite of all his tyranny, his manic outpourings over that most insidious invention – the microphone – that even despite his rantings, the spirit of the people can never be controlled, if they do but know it.

RLF: And yet they were deceived into thinking themselves greater than others. Is that not deception of the spirit?

SWC: It most surely is, Sir, indeed, but I say again, it cannot prevail in the face of the reality of the millions to the contrary. It is as though the imagination of one people was taken and adapted to fit some great scheme, to work over and above the imagination of a more charitable mind.

To overtake the imagination is possibly the worst of all tyrannies – to make people believe that what one says is true, to the detriment of the very people thus controlled.

RLF: But did you not have some control over people’s imagination back in those days you have just spoken of?

SWC: I did, yes, but I did so to enhance goodness, not to destroy it. That is the difference between the tyrant and the democrat – that one makes hope forlorn, while the other increases it and supplies the wherewithal to bring hope to fruition.

Robert L. Fielding