Thinking the unthought

A philosopher in Ancient Greece would speculate. Imagine a conversation where the topic was whether or not a particular species has teeth. The ancients may hypothesize that the animal requires teeth for some particular reason or doesn’t require them for another. It never actually occurred to them to look. It wouldn’t be until the 1600s that the idea of actually testing something would come about and centuries after that until it became the norm.

We tend to judge the ancients by our modern standards and condemn them. This is extremely unfair as we have the benefit of centuries of innovation and knowledge. I once heard a political commentator speculate that the American founders, notably Thomas Jefferson, probably knew that what they were doing in the ownership of slaves was wrong but bent to social convention. Such people are noted for their kindness to their slaves and, from this, we extrapolate that they had a deep seated knowledge of its wrongness.

This is history colored by modern perspective. The so-called Founding Fathers would have thought no more owning a slave than they would have of owning a dog. It’s not that they were cruel or inhuman; it’s simply that their minds didn’t work that way. It would take a civil war to make that clear and, even today, there are those who consider those of darker skin of lesser worth; one need only look at the number of police shootings of black men to realize that anachronistic mentality still exists.

It seems obvious but to earlier generations, the obvious wasn’t. What are we doing today that future generations will lament, asking why it wasn’t obvious to us? Global warming, of course, is a hot candidate, but one only need go back fifty years or so when people wouldn’t have even thought of the possibility that global warming would be an issue. It’s obvious to us, now (amongst the informed; there are, of course, gullible masses swayed by special interests) but it wasn’t in the ’70s. Before the Energy Crisis it was almost as though it was desirable to burn as much as possible.

The Alt key broke on my computer and was missing. This was a tragedy as I use that key often. I found myself grasping for workarounds and trying to find a replacement (which wasn’t easily obtainable). After several months of this it occurred to me that I have two Alt keys and I only use the left one. I could take the key from the right one and put it on the left. An obvious solution. Why did it not occur to me earlier? It’s obvious. Well, now it is but when I first lost the key, it wasn’t, neither was anything else one might condemn a historical figure for.

One translation of a quotation attributed to Jesus Christ states “judge not, lest ye be judged.” The Church supports these words as they are not only words of wisdom but of inevitable reality.


Published by The High Priest