Some of the initial listener reaction to our David Brin episode harkens back to similar comments we got about our Pat Churchland episode, our first attempt at including a celebrity author in the discussion.
As Seth commented right after the recording with David, there was little purchase on his edifice in which to plant a foothold in real time. I did my best to engage him in discussing what philosophy is and how it really differs from science and sci-fi, and Dylan hit him about the same issue from a different angle a few times, but his answers tended to be in the form of "OK, but what you've got to understand is..." and then lapsing into one of his stump speeches whose relevance to the question was only evident about 5 minutes in. I'll admit at the time that by half way through the episode I had more or less given up and was starting to tune out a bit, particularly since I had just listened to David on maybe three other podcasts deliver many of the same points that we were hearing. This was not what I had in mind, but as he was essentially doing us a favor by participating, I didn't see a lot of options to change the dynamic then and there without massively violating the spirit of PEL congeniality. It was good to have the follow-up discussion (which Wes did join us on) a week later, and I hope to post that early next week for you.
In doing the edit, I got to hear the whole show again, and think there is definitely something to be gotten out of the episode, where at least Brin's picture gets laid out in reasonably thorough detail. He's not your garden variety advocate of scientism, as he has written some philosophy himself. I think his attraction to philosophy is somewhat less mindfucked than many of ours who went through philosophy graduate school: he's interested in the fundamental questions of life after death, the nature of space and time, what constitutes a just society, etc., and not questions that I often struggle to formulate for PEL, which are really "What could Derrida possibly be talking about?" and "What possible advantage could two ontological views have over each other if they are formulated to have no difference in practical upshot?" David doesn't dismiss philosophy, but I think there's a legitimate challenge in what he says to philosophy's pretensions. Toward the end of the episode, he lays out philosophy's benefits, which I'll reword considerably here:
1) Philosophy is high-level science, is proto-science, is science before it has figured out a paradigm and where you retreat to in order to compare the virtues of different possible paradigms. I think there's room for a great deal of disagreement here about the relative importance of the two stages of thinking: is, for instance, the move that Darwin makes in creating the picture of natural selection and so setting up the research program the important one, or is it the results you gain from applying that method? Once you jump into the paradigm, is that when all the interesting work starts happening (as the scientist would say), or is the really interesting move, the one probably forever worth revisiting and refining and challenging, Darwin's initially theoretical one (i.e. the philosophy)? The answer will differ depending on what science you're talking about; astronomers are going to be less interested in revisiting Galileo vs. Leibniz than psychologists will re. visiting Freud vs. Skinner.
2) Philosophy is critical thinking. Now, I do find laughable Brin's particular comment that philosophy's discovery of logical fallacies is his greatest achievement. This is not dissimilar to the scientism on display at lesswrong.com, which I've written about before. If you think that pointing out a formal logical fallacy or cognitive bias solves any of our perennial philosophical problems, then you likely haven't read far enough in the literature in that area. But still, certainly I agree that in a broader sense, training in philosophy most reliably instills critical thinking skills rather than imparting any particular wisdom.
3) Philosophy is good for the soul. This has been our essential response (in episodes like the one on Plato's Gorgias) to scientistic criticism: Philosophy is one of the humanities, and as such is one of the "higher pleasures" as Mill would say. We have gotten much further in other discussions in figuring out the relationship between philosophy and literature. Brin is hardly delicate in the way he puts his philosophical points in the mouths of his characters and depicts them through events in his book, but at least there's some meat there, and not just the semblance as so often happens in "deep"-seeming but probably largely romantic literature. I've written previously about trying to take literature too philosophically seriously, and philosophy as the ostensible advantage over the arts as being explicitly oriented towards truth, even if, as I pointed out at the end of the discussion with David, the appeal of a lot of philosophy to me ends up not being a matter of actually having learned more truths the world after reading it.
To me, this list seems pretty exhaustive, and constitutes a challenge to the philosophy fan. In my case, at least, I do want to have it both ways: I want philosophy to be a fun hobby, one of the arts, an immersion that has the advantage of exercising certain parts of my brain, a purposefully "useless" endeavor, but I also retain the pretension of wanting to investigate truth and (where applicable), contribute to the direction of world history in light of truth, in my own pitifully small way. I don't think David is entirely misguided in telling us to be philosophical, but not too philosophical, lest we waste our lives isolated in secretions of our own thought. That's a reasonable take on what it is to live the partially examined life. I am of course aware of the irony in putting the phrase there about "secretions of our own thought" there in David's mouth, as his pad is no doubt thoroughly decked with such secretions, but at least there's an essentially outward focus to his proselytizing; he's a public intellectual and not an academic mummy, read only by his peers, if that. If you take environmentalism seriously in any of its aspects, and agree with him that the world is in real danger (from climate change, overpopulation, depletion of natural resources, and all the horrible things that could be brought about inadvertently by technological advances), then you do have a moral imperative to act, not just think.
Finally, a word to those objecting to David for his "arrogance." I thought reading Nietzsche was supposed to immunize one from getting riled up at this. If you think you've got anything to say, and find the whole false modesty of our culture tedious, then you're inevitably going to sound arrogant (and it's not uncommon for PEL to be accused of that). Our collective (American?) oversensitivity to others' haughtiness is probably something best gotten past. As philosophy fans, it's tempting for us when someone dumps on our interests to get defensive, but a more fruitful response is to take what there is to be had (as I've tried to do above) and merely shrug at the folly of those who are apparently too sure of themselves.
The recurrence in David's speeches of the issue of intelligence is weird and off-putting, of course. It appears to beg the question of whether intelligence is unitary/real/measurable/significant, and there's an inevitable personal dynamic involved in dwelling on the words "smarter than," such that the implication is "I'm smarter than you" or "We are smarter than those unwashed masses" or something snooty like that. Even though David described C.P. Snow's and his own long-held assessment of scientists as smarter than those in the humanities as mistaken, he also gave a pretty clear impression of his current views in a way that I'm not surprised leaves much of our audience feeling insulted and/or that David is a dabbler in philosophy that doesn't know what he's talking about.
But look at the context: His view is dominated by recognition of existential threats to our species, which we, collectively, have not been smart enough to deal with ("wise enough" might be a better term, but he has in mind not just making wise choices but inventing them). He thinks that technology such as the ready availability of information on the Internet has made us functionally smarter, but that we have a long, fricking way still to go to meet the challenge. Despite his delight in being a polymath, I think his take on intelligence is generally self-deprecating as part of a species deprecation: we are these animals that burst through the glass ceiling and don't quite know what to do with ourselves. In the face of this pressing need for orientation, and in the face of a society that he sees as crazy in so many of its prevalent political decisions and attitudes, do you blame him for trying to ruffle some feathers? He sees himself as a modern-day Socrates, who is intentionally irritating people with his prodding. I think he's got the self-consciousness to know he's irritating (and that declaring yourself to be playing the role of Socrates is smug), and hopes you will join him in his chuckling, which has both ironic and sincerely gleeful elements.
Image note: Found this fighting old superhero thing here.
Steven Westfall says
Thank you for the post on this subject of Mr. Brin. If he sees himself as a Socratic genius provoking discussion could not the PEL crowd obliged in Socratic dialogue? I totally realize the need to appreciate the guest and even to some degree to protect him. I wonder though, much of the failures he worries about and which we all worry about are not really going to fixed by science. Much of the troubles we now face were fueled by scientific discovery without wise counsel. I wonder if a episode could cover something like,” does/can/is Philosophy and the Humanities as important to society and humankind as Science”? I find in the popular culture Scientific pop culture icons (Brin, Neil deGrasse Tyson) making ethical and philosophical statements which clearly show they are uneducated in the work they are discussing. So ultimately they are always re-inventing the wheel and making easily know mistakes. It reminds me of every first year philosophy student coming in thinking all their ideas and conclusions are novel. In America we are pushing for more STEM training and cutting the humanities. I wonder if there should not be a real push to validate Philosophy. Thank you for a great podcast, every episode truly is enlightening.
Anonymous Coward says
The most important ground rule is unwritten – collegiately. I’m sorta glad the guys didn’t push too hard on “smarter”, “scholasticism” and “half the news is good news.”
He seemed really defeatist about laws and democracy – you can’t ban spying because it will just return in a different form. It’s as if he thinks laws have no influence on human behavior. I read Transparent Society in college (not a fan, submitting anonymously in protest).
Lucy Lawless has been my favorite guest so far, and spoiler alert, she played a robot in BSG. Brin wasn’t terrible though, he had enthusiasm and a sense of humor. He just came across, in some places, as not very thoughtful. Perhaps authors all have that problem when speaking extemporaneously instead of writing.
Mark Linsenmayer says
Can you (or anyone else out there) think of a good text to serve as a basis for such a discussion? We sort of tried to do this with our Gorgias episode, but that text was of course not exactly about this topic.
Max Horkheimer’s essay ‘The Social Function of Philosophy’ should be decent for this, if you will look at the topic from a variety of views. It’s short and lucid. Another candidate, Alain Badiou’s ‘Second Manifesto for Philosophy’ would be complex enough to take an entire episode.
Sorry I keep bringing up Feyerabend, but here is a text that might be interesting to cover (from Wikipedia):
“The last philosophy book that Feyerabend finished is The Tyranny of Science (written 1993, published May 13, 2011). In it Feyerabend challenges some modern myths about science, including the myth that ‘science is successful’. He argues that some very basic assumptions about science are simply false and that substantial parts of scientific ideology were created on the basis of superficial generalizations that led to absurd misconceptions about the nature of human life. Far from solving the pressing problems of our age, scientific theorizing glorifies ephemeral generalities at the cost of confronting the real particulars that make life meaningful.”
Khary Tafari Robertson says
Wow, to be honest, I did not get that feeling from the episode at all. Brin may be longwinded but it is because he is giving due respect to the weight of the question, which sometimes has historical, or anthropological factors that he chooses to delineate. He does something that is rarely heard in the show, and that is assert “original” philosophy, which to his credit requires quite a bit of explanation. Now that is not to say he is “right” or even compelling, but at least I can understand him.
DAVID ELLIS says
I can understand why some people find his voice and delivery off-putting. He does have a certain lecturing the class quality when he talks. Personally, I have little trouble ignoring what’re really just matters of style of delivery and paying attention to the content. His blog is one of my favorite when it comes to politics and ideas. Very much worth following.
I think there are decent grounds for an episode (unless you have already done one I missed?!) that explore the boundaries of science. David Brin is a classic case of someone who thinks scientists are the smartest thinkers, and in the end, philosophical problems can be reduced to science, like Sam Harris.
There are plenty of intelligent people on all sides of most debates. Simply reiterating how clever you are as though this validates your views overlooks this rather obvious point.
I vote for an episode on Lakatos/Feyerabend i.e. For and Against Method. When Scientism becomes an ideology is it in any way privileged? When specialization in the “Sciences” becomes so narrow, is society at large at risk of being reliant on too small a community of these scientists? Do areas of study become so focused that a Generalist has no hope but to take the experts’ word as Truth? I’d love to hear an episode concerning these issues!!!
Mark Linsenmayer says
Feyerabend is on the list, for sure. We were going to do him super soon, but Dylan was feeling that it’d be a bit redundant of what already went down with our Kuhn episode, so F is no longer on the very short list to do this spring, but still on the list.
David Ellis says
“There are plenty of intelligent people on all sides of most debates. Simply reiterating how clever you are as though this validates your views overlooks this rather obvious point.”
I don’t think that’s a fair characterization of anything he said.
Daniel Horne says
To paraphase Lloyd Bentsen, “Brin, you’re no Nietzsche.”
He kindof asked for this when he said “the only thing that enables us to find our mistakes … is criticism.” Ironic because self-reflection can help you find mistakes too, something Promethean Brin needed Editor Brin to do.
Even the science he got wrong: “Apes don’t have a prefrontal cortex”. And both of these quotes were in his answer to an obviously rhetorical question.
Socrates asked more questions, he didn’t say stuff like “It is the far left that’s mad, and the entire American right that’s insane.” Adults don’t argue that way. He even comments on the legality of government leaks. You’re not a lawyer! Self-reflection could have weeded out that stuff, and:
– the harem theory of evolutionary psychology
– monologues of non sequiturs
– “The 20th Century had only one monotonic trend all the way across it… professionalization.”
– “Self-righteous indignation is probably the worst addiction plaguing the American civilization today … it’s a bonafide chemical addiction.”
– the monologue on Romanticism, and the one on “industrial grade incantations”.
Worst offense was the part about logical fallacies.
Ryan A says
I agree 100%. I feel like Brin is a well-educated individual, and makes some excellent points (especially about the protoscientific nature of philosophy); but it really rubbed me the wrong way to hear him make such gross mischaracterizations. It seemed pretty clear he either took his views from introductory physical/cultural anthropology courses or very cursory summaries of the same material. I know it would have soured the tone of the episode for you guys to be constantly challenging the guest on factual accuracy, but I felt like it detracted from an otherwise great episode.
I listened to the David Brin episode twice and really enjoyed it. I think he hit so many nerves because he was right on about so much about the “left” and “right” and philosophy and science and technology etc…
Modern university system philosophy did come out of scholasticism.
“Scholasticism is a method of critical thought which dominated teaching by the academics (“scholastics,” or “schoolmen”) of medieval universities in Europe from about 1100–1700, and a program of employing that method in articulating and defending dogma in an increasingly pluralistic context. It originated as an outgrowth of, and a departure from, Christian monastic schools at the earliest European universities.” “History”, “Scholastic method” and “Scholastic instruction”
The Nazis and the confederate south were hugely romantic “it was also a revolt against the aristocratic social and political norms of the Age of Enlightenment and a reaction against the scientific rationalization of nature” “which was in part an escape from modern realities. Indeed, in the second half of the 19th century, “Realism” was offered as a polarized opposite to Romanticism”
The harem thing he is very close to Jonathan Haidt in understanding how tribal we are and how science works by others
EconTalk podcast January 20, 2014
Jonathan Haidt on the Righteous Mind
Point of Inquiry podcast March 19, 2012
Jonathan Haidt – The Righteous Mind
And I agree that it’s good that the universities are now teaching about logical fallacies (and biases). Which often in philosophy as Haidt points out being really educated or smart doesn’t make one more open minded it makes one better at rationalizing one’s position in politics, economics, religion, etc….
much respect and I want to thank David Brin for coming on the podcast !!!
s. wallerstein says
Collective oversensitivity to other’s haughtiness is not just an American trait.
In fact, I would say that Americans are more open to others showing off how smart they are than
Latin Americans. In Chile such conduct is definitely frowned upon and socially non-kosher.
Mark Linsenmayer says
Yeah, I guess I would expect that this kind of sensitivity would be directly proportional to the amount of animosity there still is in the society about class distinctions.
This would mean that even in the U.S., I think you’d get more hostility in the South than the North (which explains something about the character of the Republicans vs. Democrats).
Another thing I’m not sure about here is how this would track over black vs. white, male vs. female, etc. Like, you’d think that historically oppressed groups would be more sensitive, but rap lyrics have been pioneering in self-glorification, and obviously rap fans don’t mind. Howard Stern’s demographic may be lower (economic) class overall, but arrogance is also part of his shtick. I’m not even sure I can say that the (self-proclaimed) genteel are more easily offended like this than the (self-proclaimed) common, as literature also features various arrogant charmers either as characters or public figures (e.g. Sherlock Holmes, Oscar Wilde). I know many women tend to really react with hostility to perceived arrogance, but some may also be charmed by it, and many exhibit it themselves (e.g. Ayn Rand, Camile Paglia, and I’m sure there are less offensive examples that aren’t coming to mind at the moment).
The best I can conclude at the moment is that while there are cultural elements/norms involved, it’s largely a matter of personality and whether or not you’ve made a conscious decision at some point not to care when someone else struts like a friggin peacock (so as not to let that distraction rob you from gleaning whatever humor or wisdom there may be in what they have to say).
s. wallerstein says
I’m not sure why certain kinds of showing off are frowned about in certain cultures.
Intellectual showing off is more frowned upon in Chile than, say, bragging about sexual exploits or about goals in football.
I don’t know. There are probably are historical roots.
Catholicism: you aren’t supposed to think for yourself.
Fear: during the Pinochet dictatorship, being too smart was associated with dissidence. The same was true back in the days of the latifundio.
The desire to be normal: normal people are normally smart.
The class system (as you point out): being smart means being well educated which means you have money to pay for the education, which produces envy and people are afraid of the envy of others.
I can’t imagine a Chilean Sam Harris or David Dennett (with his brights). I’m comfortable with that.
Someone more Socratically smart and provocative (like you, Mark) might make a space for himself. There’s a space for contrarians here.
But a contrarian doesn’t go out of their way to tell people how smart they are: they just contradict and that is more acceptable than showing off per se.
In Chile, An Atheist Preaches Science in Front of a Church
Of the Chilean population, 18% are either atheist or agnostic.
Hi ! I’m Natalia, from Chile. I’m an atheist
Chile’s president Michelle Bachelet openly describes herself a “agnostic”
s. wallerstein says
What you say is very true and it just goes to show how complicated cultural differences are. Michelle Bachelet is a declared agnostic as was former president Ricardo Lagos.
Religion, especially Catholicism, plays a very different role in Chile than it does in the U.S. The right-wing, unlike the U.S. Republicans, are not anti-evolution.
However, in Chilean history the weight of the Catholic Church, for good and for ill, is important and while it has done some great things, like defending human rights under the Pinochet dictatorship, it is also an authoritarian voice shaping Chilean culture. Remember that Protestantism, at least in theory, posits that each person is able to read the Bible and understand the word of God, while in Catholicism, that is not the case.
I don’t see people like Brin or Harris arising in a culture like Chile. I’d note that both Bachelet and ex-president Lagos come from a Marxist tradition, although neither of them are currently Marxists, and their lack of religious belief may have begun there.
Now we live in a globalized world and I’m sure that with internet a Chilean chapter of the new atheists exists, but it’s a very minor force.
I suspect that Chileans are much more skeptical about religion, in many cases, than Americans, but for family reasons pay lip service to and are not openly critical of the Catholic Church, sending their kids to Catholic schools, baptizing them and using the Church for weddings and funerals. It’s a difference culture.
Sociedad Atea Chile
II Congreso Ateo de Chile – Video de campaña para recaudar fondos para el II Congreso Ateo de Chile.
“So far, confirmed is the Presence of the Doctor in Ecology Rodrigo Medel, Doctor in Biological Sciences Gabriel Leon, Doctor in History Jaime Parada, PhD in Strategic Communication Cristian Leon, the Master in Philosophy Nolberto Salinas, the Latin American Director of the International Association of Free Thought, Antonio Vergara, The President of the atheists of Mar del Plata, Argentina, Fernando Lozada, the President of the Association of Chile Skeptic (AECH), Cristian Sanchez, the presidential candidates Marcel Claude and Jose Antonio Gomez and Master in Legal and Political Theory, Christopher Bellolio.”
“Foundation dedicated to lay, agnostics, skeptics and atheists constitute an active and articulate voice in Chilean society.”
“As a professional I have worked in various media such as Radio Bíobio Chile, Diario La Nacion and Radio Agricultura where I was editor and host of the news for two years. I currently work in the municipality of Peñalolen in communications equipment. As an atheist activist took over two years building a serious character and national organization comprising atheists, agnostics, skeptics and freethinkers Chileans. Recently we establish ourselves as legally Foundation, which we are very proud of the work we have sustained in the country having established regional headquarters of the Atheist Society from Antofagasta to Puerto Montt.”
“My main motivation is to build a society free of prejudice against atheists. In Chile we are rejected and treated as second class citizens just because they think differently. This second conference is to contribute to pluralism.”
s. wallerstein says
If you have some specific differences with what I say or questions about it, indicate it, but it’s impossible to converse with a list of links.
Billie Pritchett says
It was very enjoyable to read this post.
I was wondering if you guys were going to comment on the episode.
I, for one, did find the episode unbearable and stopped listening after about 40 minutes. No judgment to you guys, of course; it’s a free podcast and nobody forced me to listen. What was most difficult to deal with was the stump speech style of rhetoric, which sort of destroyed the possibility for real-time exploration of some of the ideas. That’s sort of vague, but what I mean is something like this. Contrast the Brin episode with, say, the Owen Flanagan episode and the David Chalmers episode, episodes in which it felt they were constructive, critical exchanges, and where it seemed like you guys and the guest (and the podcast listeners) got to walk away having learned something or in some vague sense were edified by virtue of the exchanges. I didn’t get that feeling with the Brin episode.
I found Brin to be both likeable, smart, clever and interesting. I also found him arrogant. And I like Nietzche!
It’s the constant lack of humility to being wrong or even the seemingly lack of understanding that there’s shades in a polarized world of complex people. I guess it came out especially strong in the political stuff, but … well, it’s the constant “what you need to understand” as if there’s something we don’t understand per default. It’s the “here’s some fact” which, for some of us who actually do understand a few things, is in fact not fact. It’s painful to listen to someone who is so sure and bombastic about, well, his opinion.
Apart from that, I’m looking forward to reading him; it sounds like a better experience than talking with him.
Khary Tafari Robertson says
^ I totally agree with this
What I find problematic is that Brin’s speech is like a bad comedy routine. Brin’s comments in the podcast mirror exactly his YouTube videos; the intonation, timing, and language are exactly the same. (http://youtu.be/M91gET7m7UI go to 3:00). For being a celebrity, his contribution to what should be an egalitarian discussion fails since it’s repetitive and doesn’t engage in discussion. I say that his “stuck” delivery and poor ability to speak meaningfully with others was a disservice to the PEL citizenry. I find his implied self aggrandizement a bitter herb without curative properties; it did nothing for me.
Skitz O'Fuel says
Bang up job on this episode, fellas. The bit on the trivial philosphy paper is gold.
You know what was fucking infuriating for me about that stupid man David Brin: that he had the audacity to tell you guys “well you aren’t paying me so let’s not linger to long” or some such (quite late in the episode). Fuck him and his attitude; if it was me I would have told him to go fuck himself on the podcast, disrespecting you guys (and the podcast) like that. None of the other guests (not even Pat Churchland…I mean at least she was respectful of you guys and in general of the philosophical enterprise) had that attitude. David Brin just came here to preach to you guys his gospel pretending to care about true philosophical engagement; don’t waste your time (or the listeners sorry to say) with a douche like that again. Not worth the time or energy.
I was going to skip this episode, but after reading through the gallons of vitriol thrown at Brin, I had no choice but to listen and… well, I felt put-off by the episode, for a while, but then I realized that it was a positive experience, in a few ways.
1. The episode made me think:
Because Brin made so many provocative statements, I was forced to repeatedly pause the episode and think through what he was saying; this helped me understand much more about how I really feel about the future, human society, the nature of intelligence, etc. So, if Brin’s idea is to force people to ponder, he is successful… at least in terms of getting me personally to think. With that said, I thought he was half-true most of the time; at other times, he was just way too out-there. Like the others, I thought his political opinions personified unearned arrogance; I was gobsmacked by the way he glibly dropped huge generalizations about both the left and the right, diagnosing their problems as if he knew the answers, as if he himself didn’t have any ideological biases, and expected to be taken seriously.
2. The episode helped me appreciate something new about philosophy:
You guys discussed with Brin the purpose and potential usefulness of philosophy. One of the positive upshots of philosophy — reading it, writing it, listening to it, discussing it — that you didn’t cover (because to do so would be like calling Brin arrogant) is…. learned humility.
I believe this is why former PEL guests, such as Owen Flanagan, added so much more to the conversation than Brin. Philosophy Bro, someone who’s crafted a persona based on in-your-face brashness, let you guys speak your turn and avoided making definitive sounding statements about highly controversial issues. Lucy Lawless, an internationally recognized actress, spoke to you on the level, like it was an honor to be doing the podcast with you.
Now, why is this? Why would a man like Owen Flanagan – a highly respected scholar, the author of good books, and someone who’s had congress with the Dalai Llama – have less intellectual vanity than the author of pulpy science fiction novels? I’m not too sure, but if I had to guess, it’s probably because as a fiction writer, Brin isn’t subject to as much criticism; sure, he has to be rigorous and consistent while creating his worlds, and he has to be entertaining, but ultimately he doesn’t have to stick to the facts. The academic guests, on the other hand, have had to go through a constant process of discussion and and debate: they have to deal with the criticisms of their peers, department heads, publishers, and even students. Further, it’s hard to immerse yourself in Wittgenstein, Nietcszhe, Foucalt, Kant, whoever, without bumping up constantly against the limits of your current knowledge – engaging with these thinkers is a lesson in how ignorant you are.
So, in addition to critical thinking skills, philosophy also teaches that it’s really friggin hard to to think about ANYTHING with accuracy and clarity, so be humble and patient (while still having the confidence to learn new things). Quick and easy statements aren’t useful; you can’t explain what “intelligence” is with the same time and effort it takes to order a Big Mac.
3. The episode taught me something about how I should spend my time:
Thinking about the future is a waste. It’s so open-ended, so impossible to know, that it’s just futile; I’ll think about the next week, sure, and the next six months, or even the next year, but not the next one hundred years. To quote Robert Hughes: “Nothing dates faster than people’s thoughts about the future.”