October 14, 2001

----------------------------------The question___________________
July 16th, 2001
Humans have five senses: sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell. A few weeks ago I was thinking about our senses and a question developed: Can a human imagine a new sense?

To answer this I'll have to determine the definition of a sense. I looked in the dictionary and it wasn't much help. So I'll try it on my own.
Senses are mediums that inerpret information about the things around us (or the lack of things). Our senses send data to our brain which in turn, creates the world around us.

My first thought is that it is possible for humans to have more than five senses. Some of us might have psychic powers. However, psychic powers seem to be only internal manifestations of external senses. Let's see if I can prove it....
Imagine that you can hear other people's thoughts. Would this be a 6th sense? Well, quite frankly, I wouldn't classify it as a 6th sense because you're hearing the thoughts. When I think I actually hear my own voice "speaking" my thoughts. This suggests that essentially, I'm using a sense of hearing. Thus, if you can hear other people's thoughts in your mind you're still only hearing them. Therefore, hearing others' thoughts would not be a new sense.

If someone had no senses and they had never experienced any senses then they would have no thoughts. They wouldn't be able to think. So, a psychic mind power could not be classified as new sense. The mind is an internal mechanism that processess the information gathered by our senses which are external mechanisms.

---------------------the reply_______________________________

To me, the senses simply represent arbitrary boundaries in the mass of data
around us. So sight is sensitive to (a small range of) the electromagnetic
spectrum, hearing to the sound spectrum, touch to certain frequencies of
vibration of matter (ok I'm getting beyond my knowledge of physics here),
etc. There are huge gaps in what our senses tell us about what is around us.
For me it is not a stretch to imagine a new sense that would make us aware of
some heretofore unperceived aspect of what's going on around us, without
being simply an extension of one of the existing senses. For example if I
became aware of matter changing to energy in a way that didn't involve an
extension to the senses of sight, hearing, touch, smell or taste, I would
consider that a new sense.

In other words, our perception of the universe is limited by our senses. I
think it's reasonable to imagine other ways of perception that can't be
reduced to our existing 5 senses. (It may be hard for us to imagine though
because we're so used to experiencing through our particular senses.)

anyways, my 2 cents' worth.



June 29th, 2001

I recieved another letter regarding evil. (I replaced the actual names for anonymity).


Cool topic and insights. Kimmery would agree with you that
selfishness is the root of all evil in humans. I would
like to suggest that evil can only exist in a moral
being and therefore animals are exempt.

In your example with sling blade I think we have to
establish a definition for 'evil' that is different
than one for 'wrong'. By killing that man he removed
the future possibility of that guy harming the family
of his friend. His intentions (formed in his limited
mind) don't apear evil but even he knew it was
certainly wrong by calling the police.

I don't have any answers for this debate but I would
like to further suggest that in addition to
selfishness, evil involves malicious intent.

just my 2 cents :o)



My reply:

Hey Jordan.
About selfishness being the root of all evil in humans.... That's become a strange topic for me. My view is that selfishness lies in juxtaposition with being good and being bad. Ayn Rand, a philosopher/writer born in Russia, claims that selfishness is a virtue. This is most likely because she despised living under a communist regime that overthrew Russia and took her father's business. It ruined her life. Consequently, many of her books deal with the topic of selfishness being a virtue.

Now, I certainly don't believe everything she says about selfishness being a virtue but here's an interesting scenario:

I want to make music. I want to make it for myself because it feels good and it makes me happy. I want to play and write music because it's pleasurable. I want to be the best piano player.

That's pretty selfish. However, if I can reach the point where I can match or surpass the ability of the "heavy hitter" musicians then I'll be creating a lot of good music that many people will enjoy. I'll be contributing to the history of music and is overall proliferation. In that sense, my selfishness is a virtue.

So, as of now, I tend to think that selfishness is ambiguous.

Perhaps there are two kinds of selfishness: selfishness for passive (non-violent) self-fufillment and selfishness, like you suggest, for malicious self-fulfillment.


Of course, a musician's desire to be the best could be considered as intense devotion. However, ask the musician's wife after days and nights of being replaced by gigs and practice sessions and she may begin to think otherwise.


May 23rd, 2001

On April 14th, 2001 I posted this in the thoughts section.

What is evil?

Is selfishness the core of all evil? I was going to argue that all consciously evil actions are symptoms of selfishness. However, animals instinctively partake in selfishness as a means to survival. Yet are they evil? Do they know morality?

Perhaps evil exists when one consciously notices that their actions have a detrimental effect on something else. This suggests that evil only exists when guilt is involved. Is that true?

It is my reasoning that evil is a human invention and can be applied only to humans. Applying evil to animals opens up a can of worms that I don't want to deal with. So, what, in relation to humans, is evil?

The scenario in the movie Slingblade pops in my head when I consider this question. The main character kills someone in order to prevent future harm to another person. He feels no guilt about the murder. Was his action evil?

In religious terms, I know what is evil. But what does evil mean to a non-religious person?


I recieved a repsonse to this message. It is as follows:

"Regarding evil, I may have mis-read your statement regarding guilt. It would seem that the genuinely evil are lacking in guilt. Maybe you made a logical leap when writing that sentence. Guilt is a knowledge that you have "sinned", come short. Without the understanding of what is the right thing to do, you can't have guilt. Well, OK, then that means you can for sure be evil and have guilt, too, but the really evil people have a lack of guilt.

"I have heard that God created the universe once (one of the times he created it) without evil, but then the universe just came back to him relatively quickly. So at the risk of being flippant here, and this might be a terrible upset to some religious conservatives, it seems evil is a necessary component of this manifestation of the universe. God's game this time around necessitates evil. The game would be over too quickly without evil. God would only have Himself. And that's not what he wants this time."

My response to this: