“Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.” –Kierkegaard
My second installment of Conversations with Yang has led me to another question: Science and Philosophy may differ in their approach to problems, but what about the life of the scientist and the life of the philosopher? How might the scientist and the philosopher differ in approaching life?
As evident from my last post, Yang would rather work on solvable problems for a living, whereas i would rather devote my time to unsolvable problems. If each approach seems to offer its own set of advantages, and you desire both, then the logical course of action would be to work on both solvable and unsolvable problems.
So Yang would break down a big, unsolvable problem into smaller, solvable ones so she can have some kind of ROI, so to speak. And we’ve already seen that that’s not possible in doing philosophy.
But what if “life” were modeled this way? What if philosophy could be my unsolvable problem, and i had other, solvable problems to work through on the side?
In life, things seem to get achieved…i think. I have trouble defining “achievements,” because i can’t say for myself that i have achieved anything at all, besides birth, maybe. Achievement indicates completion, meaning having come to an end, and i don’t see anything i do as ending or have done as having ended. Too often i dig up an old project i’ve “finished,” whether it be an artwork or a relationship—to experiment with, to improve, to extend into a new project—that none of my projects ever seem to “end.” When i tell someone i’ve finished a project, what i really mean is that i’ve finished it for now. Even if you have no desire or plans to take up a project again, does not the mere possibility of taking it up again indicate that they never truly end?
You might object, “But what about those things which you can’t take up again? Like a class from a school you’ve already graduated from?” Well, just how do you “achieve” a class? Okay, here’s a better example: let’s say you “achieved” a grade. What did the grade “end?” Did it end your class? I don’t think so. It was probably the term schedule that ended your class. Did it end your record of scores? If you’re being poetic, maybe, but conceptually? That grade wasn’t just a number at the end of the list; it was an average. The grade didn’t end anything. It didn’t do anything. It is just a symbol representing the average of the scores you received during the course of the class. So listen up, students: grades are not achievable. Don’t ever let your parents tell you otherwise.
When i was starting to argue for an unsolvable-problem-only life project paradigm with Yang, i was envisioning my future as that of a philosopher, devoted to those undying questions without answers. In my fantasy, i neglected that part we all participate in: life. But now that i think about it—i mean, really think about it—i don’t think anything is achievable in the true sense of the term and find it rather bizarre to wish for anything to come to an end. Besides, isn’t life just one big, unsolvable problem?