I will confess that most of what I know about philosophers I learnt from Monty Python, and apart from being able to prove that Bertrand Russell is indeed a plum pudding, philosophical discourse is not something in which I am fluent.
So setting off with Sophie was either a brave leap towards enlightenment or a foolhardy trek up the garden path. Having returned, I lean towards the latter.
I have never read the book by Jostein Gaarder, which was a best seller the world over. Sophie is 14 and finds two questions in her mail box: "Who are you" and "Where does the world come from?" A Socratic tutorial in philosophy follows.
Here, essentially the same thing occurs. Yet despite the best efforts of Alberto and the Major, supported by a cast of philosophical luminaries, not even the Gadfly could sting me out of ignorance. The Big Questions were just too big, and the little ones were rather dull.
Cause and effect
I learnt early on that I was a causal determinist, and much later that I found examination of moral concepts unnatural. In between, I poked about in a multimedia set of images and interactions that were the doors to philosophical ideas and the persons that had them.
I went through the doors only as far as was necessary to move on. None of them did I find inviting enough to enter, make myself at home, and study in detail. What appeared to be a quite detailed encyclopaedic pull down menu was pretty much left alone, except when finding the answer was essential to progression.
Sophie seemed to fare better than I did. She conversed with me by e-mail, enclosing photos and video clips of various goings on. She herself received some rather strange e-mails from Major Knag, via a third person, the somewhat mysterious Alberto. Whilst we both seemed lost at the start, Sophie seemed to have caught on by the end to the deeper concepts being revealed, and was able to have several meaningful dialogues with a number of persons including the Major.
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