A blog calls for a blogger to hold forth on whatever is top of mind at the time and for readers to chime in when and as they choose. Based on my experience with it on LinkedIn, I think it is a terrific communications medium. This is not a blog.
The Infinite Staircase purports to provide a Theory of Everything. From the outset, we know that this is impossible, so for its author to hold forth any further would simply be extending what is an already extended hubris. That would not serve anyone.
This is a forum
A forum is a place to debate ideas. The Infinite Staircase puts a large number of ideas in play, each with the author’s particular spin on it. Ideas deserve better than that. There are many spins to put on them. There are also many ideas not included in this book that need to get spun up in reaction to it. For obvious reasons, that can’t be my job. It has to be yours.
So, what’s the best way to make this work? I think there are several games to play here. Two that come immediately to mind are:
- You say . . . But I say . . . This starts with a brief quote from the book to locate your point of departure from it, and then goes on to present an alternative idea and to make the case for it. Such posts invite third parties to chime in on either side or to add further alternatives into the mix.
- Stump the chump! In polite company, this is sometimes called Q&A, but let’s face it, anytime an author purports to provide a theory of everything, he is leaving himself open for any number of challenges. The idea here is to frame the challenge as a question, often a very pointed one, based again on a specific point of departure in the book. This can spark original dialog on many fronts, which is really the whole point of a forum.
Regardless of how well its arguments land with you, The Infinite Staircase is focused on two questions which I hope you see as being inherently worthy of continued discussion. The first is, how much of reality as we experience it can be effectively understood within a purely secular worldview? In our era, that worldview is being updated extensively at the bottom of the staircase, but it has not been updated materially at the upper levels. Is that OK? If not, what needs to be done? And the second inherently important question is, given a secular worldview, where does morality fit in? I offer a “mammalian” answer to this question, but surely there are other platforms as well, existentialism being one, not to mention a skeptical position that sees morality as an “epiphenomenon” that we are clinging to out of anxiety or insecurity. All told then, there is a lot to talk about. But as the closing image below makes clear, at this point in the game.