Monday, July 9, 2012

Even The Wise Cannot See All Ends

     "Even the wise cannot see all ends," says Gandalf the White, the heroic wizard in The Lord of the Rings.  And he was very wise, I think, when he said that.  Even if he was a fictional character.

     There have been fictional characters who have been portrayed as if they could see all ends, or almost all.  I am thinking of Hari Seldon, the character in Isaac Asimov's Foundation Trilogy who establishes the "science" of psychohistory (an updated version of Marx's historical determinism?) and a "Foundation" of elite scientists-mathematicians-psychologists-sociologists to guide the Galaxy into the future, world without end, etc.  (See here for Hari Seldon's influence on the economist Paul Krugman.)

     As far as I'm concerned, I'll cast my philosophical and economic lot with Gandalf and company, rather than with our present semi-secret Foundation with its World Wide Bank and World Wide War emanations.  Small is beautiful; grandiosity is self-defeating.

     In the long term, that is.  The Foundation will have -- is indeed having -- its day.  Or rather, as the Lord Of All Worlds said, its Night.  "This is your hour,"  He said, "and the power of darkness."

     Meanwhile, the wise still cannot see all ends.  (Though, as they grow in wisdom, they may see more ends.  And those more clearly.)  As the frontier of personal knowledge expands, so widens the vista of things yet to be known.

     We know much, very much.  And, if wise, we must likewise know that we don't know much.  We don't know much at all.



  1. "Small is beautiful; grandiosity is self-defeating."

    That is a wonderful summation of the conflict in which we are all engaged. Thank you for helping us see the battle more clearly.

  2. For more on this idea, CS Lewis' The Abolition of Man and offer much.

  3. .....sorry.

    AND That Hideous Strength