January 10, 2006

Take Two

There are two ways in which you can approach a problem. The first is to wait for someone else to fix it for you. The second is to fix it yourself. If you apply the same methods to arguments and beliefs, the logic becomes quite interesting. Using the first approach, you can wait for someone to come and challenge your beliefs and arguments and change yours to his or her's if it is convincing enough. Or you can challenge your own beliefs constantly and change it when you better your existing ones.

Using the first approach, you can stand on the shoulders of giants, peers or even lesser people. It mostly absolves you of owing hundred percent responsibility of your own actions and curbs independent thinking to varying degrees. But the benefits this approach are considerable. There are other people who have taken the same route before you. There is prior art in the case to consult and refer. You can build on it and make it better or you can use it implement a time-tested solution.

From that point of view, the second option has mostly negatives, if you can call them that, attributed to it. There are no existing paths, you have to clear your way through the maze, you make up the rules and chart out the map as you go along. The journey (yes, I can't ever seem to let go of that metaphor. So, boo) is long and unpredictable, the thinking is independent but chaotic, and the buck starts and stops at the same place - with you. There is no safety in numbers here, there is only the pleasure of discovery.

So what is all this weird thinking all about? I don't quite know. It is mostly an objective effort at self-reflection (can you really reflect on another person or anyone else for that matter?) and an attempt to see if there exists a possibility whereby you can step aside from your natural self and move into shoes, clothes and skin that are not necessarily yours. Which side do you or I belong to? I don't know for sure, the world is hardly ever purely black or white, but what's the harm in wasting a couple of idling thought cycles on things like these?