Back and forth
Posted by Leo Tarvi
Philosophers, go fig.
Do we live life forwards, but examine it backwards? This is something the philosopher Kikergard pointed out long ago.
Do you agree? If you do, isn’t this odd? It seems we’re likely to make many mistakes in basing our future, which is forward thinking, entirely on the past, which is looking backwards.
My first thought is pretty much “What does that even mean?” I’m not going to read the link, at least not yet, because I want to come at this entirely based on what I know and what the topic says. It’s a puzzler, though. I’m trying to imagine living backwards while examining forwards, and it’s just as meaningless to me. Sometimes I think that the real job of a philosopher is to come up with vague, quotable, lofty sounding catchphrases that nobody understands but pretends to so they don’t look dumb. Ah well, maybe someone can explain it in the comments and then I can try to address it.
The second part, however, that I understand. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it makes sense, though.
Basing our future on our past. What else could we base it on? I mean, we only know anything at all from the past. We can’t learn anything from the future, because by the time we do it’s become the past. The present is that place where we make the mistakes we will learn from when it’s the past.
Worse, though, is that people keep making the same mistakes that have already been made in the past. So not only is it silly and pointless to complain about basing our future on the only source of information we have, it’s irrelevant because we clearly aren’t doing that. If anything we’re basing our future on a bizarre mishmash of distorted ideas of the past, lies, wishful thinking, hallucinations, outright insanity and just a tiny smidgen of careful analysis and reasoned thought, just enough to keep us from bringing all of civilization crashing down around us.
Maybe I’m being grouchier than usual, this hasn’t been a great weekend for me.
To talk about past and future as directions and imply that we’re looking the wrong way seems to me as asinine as asking someone who is falling to their death why they’re going down when up is so much nicer. When we speak of looking backwards to the past or forwards to the future, these are metaphors. We are talking about imagining or remembering things, there’s no actual looking involved and there are no directions. A metaphor is a poetic impressionist picture of a thing, it is not the thing itself.
Right, I’m going to grouch off back to my hole now.