Monday, September 22, 2008

The shoulder of giants

"nanos gigantum humeris insidentes"

I'm actually amazed that humans have as much knowledge as we do. Because think of it, we all have a life span of say 80 years. In that 80 years, we have to learn as much as we can from those who came before us and pass as much knowledge on to those coming after us. And in that time we also have to sift through the misconceptions, half truths, myths and outright lies that are passed along from generation to generation to arrive at our best guess at what really is the truth.

Collective consciousness aside, none of us are born knowing everything. So why is it some people insist that they don't need an education? Education is that giant's shoulder we stand on to review what past generations have learned so we don't have to start from scratch as we venture out into our world. And every generation someone suggests a better way to build a fire or else we would still be rubbing sticks together.

But still I am impressed at how advanced our species is considering we are all just marking time here. Scratching on cave walls advanced to pencils on paper, tapping on typewriters, and now clicking away on computers. I marvel that I can store and listen to my entire music collection on a mp3 player the size of a matchbox. I still can't believe something as big as a 747 can fly. And I really can't believe I can receive 300 different channels of television via satellite and still can't find anything decent to watch.

Despite the old adage, "Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it," there is still this propensity for our species to repeat the same mistakes over and over even after reviewing history. Perhaps it is the folly of youth to consider themselves immune from the pitfalls from following the same paths as their fathers.

Or perhaps there is a danger when perched on the shoulders of giants of having our vision obscured by clouds while the giant plods off a cliff at the end of the path.

Oh well, I've mixed enough metaphors for now.


Karen said...

This is vintage Tim-id. Loved it!

Time said...

Thank you. I am just the same "old" Tim-id I always was.

JP/deb said...

Mixing metaphors -- a great by-product of a liberal arts education :)

Great observations! JP/deb

Time said...

Normally I mix similes with metaphors, but I started getting headaches. So now I just stick to mixing straight metaphors. :)