A definition is the enclosing a wilderness of idea within a wall of words.
[Artificial Intelligence] has become too much like the man who tries to get to the moon by climbing a tree: ‘One can report steady progress, all the way to the top of the tree.’
The value of philosophy is, in fact, to be sought largely in its very uncertainty. The man who has no tincture of philosophy goes through life imprisoned in the prejudices derived from common sense, from the habitual beliefs of his age or his nation, and from convictions which have grown up in his mind without the co-operation or consent of his deliberate reason. To such a man the world tends to become definite, finite, obvious; common objects rouse no questions, and unfamiliar possibilities are contemptuously rejected. As soon as we begin to philosophize, on the contrary, we find, as we saw in our opening chapters, that even the most everyday things lead to problems to which only very incomplete answers can be given. Philosophy, though unable to tell us with certainty what is the true answer to the doubts which it raises, is able to suggest many possibilities which enlarge our thoughts and free them from the tyranny of custom. Thus, while diminishing our feeling of certainty as to what things are, it greatly increases our knowledge as to what they may be; it removes the somewhat arrogant dogmatism of those who have never travelled into the region of liberating doubt, and it keeps alive our sense of wonder by showing familiar things in an unfamiliar aspect.
I used to believe that time was the most important thing I have, but I’ve come to believe differently. The single most valuable resource I have is uninterrupted thought.
What makes a great designer or writer is not what they do when they’re at their computer, but rather what they do when they’re not at it. Though our best work is often materialized when we’re working at the computer, the foundation of that work is formed and nurtured when we’re away from the screen.
Perfectionism is anathema to creativity and yet it’s from a place of seeking perfection that so many people start projects. Song a day is messy—intentionally so. Sometimes I’m tired. Sometimes I’m uninspired. Sometimes I have food poisoning. The songs vary widely in quality. What I hope is that … the next time you sit down to make something, you’ll think about the mess I’ve created with song a day, and not think about that perfect piece of art that you’re about to set out to create. There’s a weird perfection in the process—but you have to be constantly generating material to get to it. Don’t be afraid of the mess.
We’re in this interesting time. With technology, everyone knows everything now. So information has been commoditized, and what’s important now is knowledge. And the difference between information and knowledge is that knowledge is about having a point of view based on what we know.
This amazing drive and capacity to learn does not turn itself off when children turn 5 or 6. We turn it off with our coercive system of schooling. The biggest, most enduring lesson of our system of schooling is that learning is work, to be avoided when possible.
Many adults are put off when youngsters pose scientific questions. Children ask why the sun is yellow, or what a dream is, or how deep you can dig a hole, or when is the world’s birthday, or why we have toes. Too many teachers and parents answer with irritation or ridicule, or quickly move on to something else. Why adults should pretend to omniscience before a five-year-old, I can’t for the life of me understand. What’s wrong with admitting that you don’t know? Children soon recognize that somehow this kind of question annoys many adults. A few more experiences like this, and another child has been lost to science. There are many better responses. If we have an idea of the answer, we could try to explain. If we don’t, we could go to the encyclopedia or the library. Or we might say to the child: “I don’t know the answer. Maybe no one knows. Maybe when you grow up, you’ll be the first to find out.