Debate: My introduction


Dan O’ Brian:

Compared with the vastness of the universe, man is a mere speck in a remote region of the cosmos. Yet man can be considered a cosmos himself when we look closer at the smallest parts into which we ourselves are divided until division takes us into nothingness. Compared with that nothing, man is everything, the pinnacle of the universe, the most significant being. To be sure, it would take next to nothing for the universe to crush man. A small spoonful of water is all it would take. But, for all that, the universe is less significant than man because man knows he is being crushed. If the universe was slowly being destroyed, it would have no knowledge of it. The universe continues to expand into nothing and will keep enlarging inch by inch towards infinity. So, in nature, in between infinity and nothingness, we are a speck but we are something. We are not everything; but neither are we nothing.

Man is stuck between two abysses of infinity and nothingness; and man can neither fully comprehend the extremes of nothingness nor infinity. The end and the beginning are removed from him so far that it is beyond hope of his discovery. Man is drawn from nothing and engulfed in the infinite. Stuck in the middle of things, man tries to gain knowledge of the whole. But, is not this presumption that he can know the whole just as infinite as its object? It is a vain delusion. He imagines himself as equally capable or better than the capacity of nature of which he has not yet sounded the depths. The depths keep getting deeper, and man’s delusional ambitions keeps getting stronger. The extent of nature exceeds our limited sight. Our senses dwell in the middle of things, and testify of our limitations. A noise too loud deafens us. Too much light blinds us. We cannot see too great a distance nor too short a distance. Too long or too short a lecture threatens our understanding. Too much knowledge at one sitting bewilders us. First principles are too basic for us to prove them. Too much concord, as does too much dissonance in music is disagreeable to us. We cannot feel extreme heat or cold. An age too young or too old hinders our mental ability, as does too much or too little education. We are incapable of certain knowledge and absolute ignorance.

Who can deny his own limitations? Yet are we consumed with longing to know the whole and to stand on a sure foundation on which we can build a tower that reaches to the heavens. Can man be like God? Would not a man wish for ten years more added onto his life so that he may know more things? But what is ten years compared to the age of the universe? It is not worthy to be called a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.


All this is meant as a context for my objections to Objectivism and a defense of my own position.


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