Monday, January 07, 2008

Big thoughts in a few minutes

http://www.bigthink.com

My son sent me the link to this sit this morning. He described it as You Tube if videos were posted by Harvard professors.

The site includes video interview clips of big minds talking about big questions. Some are edited compilations and some are edited interviews. They are not as spontaneous as You Tube. They are, nonetheless, addictive.

Most of us like to think big thoughts from time to time. We are less fond of wrestling with them. Wrestling with them takes time and energy away from simply living life. We bounce back and forth between the edict (Sophocles before Jung?) that the unexamined life is not worth living and the equally true sentiment that the unlived life is not worth examining.

See? Caught you. It's a big question, and you want to be intrigued by it, argue it, and then move on. It's like looking at the sun: irresistible but tolerable only in small doses. Even writers who write long books on big questions spend most of their days on little questions.

It's easier to forget to think big questions than it is to leave out all the little questions. Our bodies remind us to eat and sleep and use the bathroom and stretch our muscles. The particular ways we do these things take up a lot of attention. Our senses catch other human beings in their emotions and behaviours and draw them to our attention. We cannot help but notice. Yet we can go months without asking: what is it that makes this job worth doing?

Do yourself a favour. Visit Big Think and let yourself wander through some big minds taking on big ideas. Then let yourself have a big idea of your own. Just don't stay there too long.

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