26 April 2007

A tale that is told...

The idea that our life is a story is by no means new. Thus the great bard Shakespeare said that life"... is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." (Macbeth) However, it took philosophers some time to discover the philosophical import of this view of life. It was actually a German chap called William Schapp who first gave this age-old idea a philosophical twist. He maintained that we live our lives in a host of stories, which have connection with the stories of other people in various ways; so actually our selves are nothing but cross-sections of stories. Our identities are created by a vast web of stories, as is our relationship with reality. We understand and identify things by placing them in the stories we tell about them: just like selves, things do not really exist outside of stories. We are caught in this narrative web because we cannot exist outside of it. There is a world-wide web of stories: the world is that web.
— Stefan Snaevarr, "Don Quixote and the Narrative Self," in Philosophy Now, Issue 60.

pareidolia: the perception of patterns where none exist (some recent, "real" examples: Jesus' face in a tortilla, the Virgin Mary's outline in a semimelted hunk of chocolate, Mother Teresa's profile in a cinnamon bun).
— David P. Barash, "The DNA of Religious Faith," The Chronicle Review, April 20.
Happens with computing all the time: "You piece of shit! Why are you doing this to me?!!"


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