Under The Sun

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Crazy Philosophy

"Sensible philosophies are noted for their sobriety, propriety, rationality, analytic skill, and other things. One definite advantage they have is that they are usually quite sensible. Crazy philosophies are characterized by their madness, spontaneity, sense of humor, total freedom from the most basic conventions of thought, amorality, beauty, divinity, naturalness, poesy, absolute honesty, freedom from inhibitions, contrariness, paradoxicalness, lack of discipline, and general yum-yummyness. Their most important advantage over the sensible philosophies is that they are much closer to the truth!"

--Raymond Smullyan, The Tao Is Silent

I quibble with this, of course. Most "sensible" philosophies are not at all sensible.

As Smullyan goes on to note, perhaps the best evidence of the value of the crazy is that it appeals strongly to almost all good mathematicians, and especially to mathematical logicians. (Smullyan himself is a logician of some eminence.) At the limits of logic and "rationality", one can easily see their manifest deficiencies. Whereof the sensibles cannot speak, thereof they must be silent. But the crazies have a much better option: they laugh.

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