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Philosophy

At university, I did a load of philosophy. I wasn’t really interested – “what use is philosophy to me?” – but it was the most valuable bit of education I had. It made me a better software developer and it taught me how to write complex stuff in plain English.

But there was one thing that I never got over.

Rene Descartes’ Cartesian Doubt.

What if we’re just a brain in a jar, being our experiences by some evil demon who is hell-bent on deceiving us?

Decartes wrote a whole book musing this possibility and came to the conclusion that the only way to prove that you’re not being lied to every second of the day is by having faith in God, because God is good.

Cartesian Doubt is the reason behind science. Hypothesis, repeatable experimentation and peer-review – using consensus to prove that the evidence is real.

My favourite response was Samuel Johnson, who famously said “I refute it thus” and kicked a stone.

But, finally, I think I’ve come across my own answer.

“It doesn’t matter”.

You are you and all you can deal with is the here and now. You might deal with it by kicking a stone, trusting in God or giving in to the hallucination – but you still have to deal with it.

And there goes today’s philosophy lesson.