Happy Wednesday everyone! It’s hump day, meaning just a few more days until we get into Friday. I figured I would take this day to introduce more of my favorite audio logs from The Witness.
Stemming from the first audio log series (see here), this series of posts is dedicated to some of the best audio logs from the game. Each audio log revolves around the theme of religion, philosophy, science, and other complex ideas. So let’s not waste any more time and get right to it. Here are some more of my favorite audio logs:
Audio Log #1: Activation
Our hangnails are incredibly real to us; whereas to most of us, the English village of Nether Wallop and the high Himalayan country of Bhutan, not to mention the slowly swirling spiral galaxy in Andromeda, are considerably less real, even though our intellectual selves might wish to insist that since the latter are much bigger and longer-lasting than our hangnails, they ought therefore to be far realer to us than our hangnails are. We can say this to ourselves till we’re blue in the face, but few of us act as if we really believed it. A slight slippage of subterranean stone that obliterates 20,000 people in some far-off land, the ceaseless plundering of virgin jungles in the Amazon basin, a swarm of helpless stars being swallowed up one after another by a ravenous black hole, even an ongoing collision between two huge galaxies each of which contains a hundred billion stars —such colossal events are so abstract to someone like me that they can’t even touch the sense of urgency and importance, and thus the reality, of some measly little hangnail on my left hand’s pinky. We are all egocentric, and what is realest to each of us, in the end, is ourself. The realest things of all are my knee, my nose, my anger, my hunger, my toothache, my sideache, my sadness, my joy, my love for math, my abstraction ceiling, and so forth. What all these things have in common, what binds them together, is the concept of “my”, which comes out of the concept of “I” or “me”, and therefore, although it is less concrete than a nose or even a toothache, this “I” thing is what ultimately seems to each of us to constitute the most solid rock of undeniability of all. Could it possibly be an illusion? Or if not a total illusion, could it possibly be less real and less solid than we think it is? Could an “I” be more like an elusive, receding, shimmering rainbow than like a tangible, heftable, transportable pot of gold?
~ Douglas Hofstadter, 2007
Audio Log #2: Uncertainty of Science
If we were not able or did not desire to look in any new direction, if we did not have a doubt or recognize ignorance, we would not get any new ideas. There would be nothing worth checking, because we would know what is true. So what we call scientific knowledge today is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty. Some of them are most unsure; some of them are nearly sure; but none is absolutely certain. Scientists are used to this. We know that it is consistent to be able to live and not know. Some people say, “How can you live without knowing?” I do not know what they mean. I always live without knowing. That is easy. How you get to know is what I want to know. This freedom to doubt is an important matter in the sciences and, I believe, in other fields. It was born of a struggle. It was a struggle to be permitted to doubt, to be unsure. And I do not want us to forget the importance of the struggle and, by default, to let the thing fall away. I feel a responsibility as a scientist who knows the great value of a satisfactory philosophy of ignorance, and the progress made possible by such a philosophy, progress which is the fruit of freedom of thought. I feel a responsibility to proclaim the value of this freedom and to teach that doubt is not to be feared, but that it is to be welcomed as the possibility of a new potential for human beings. If you know that you are not sure, you have a chance to improve the situation. I want to demand this freedom for future generations.
~ Richard Feynman, 1963