The man of science is a poor philosopher.
– Albert Einstein
Frog The Philosopher
Chuang Tzu talks about a draftsman of the name Chu’i, who could draw more perfect circles freehand than with a compass. Really, the compass is needed because you are afraid. If you are not afraid you yourself can draw a perfect circle without any help.
In nature circles exist everywhere, everything moves on a circular path. The circle is the easiest phenomenon in nature – and no compass is used. The stars don’t consult a map, they don’t carry a compass and they go on moving in a circle. If you give them compasses and maps, I am certain they will be lost – they will not know where to go and what to do.
You must have heard the story of the centipede? A centipede walks with a hundred legs. A frog, a philosopher, saw the centipede, he looked and watched and he became very troubled; it is so difficult to walk even with four legs, but this centipede was walking with one hundred legs. This was a miracle! How did the centipede decide which leg to move first, and then which one next and then which one after that? And one hundred legs! So the frog stopped the centipede and asked a question: I am a philosopher and I am puzzled by you. A problem has arisen which I cannot solve.
How do you walk? How do you manage it at all? It seems impossible! The centipede said: I have been walking all my life, but I have not thought about it. Now that you ask, I will think about it and then I will tell you.
For the first time thought entered the centipede’s consciousness. Really, the frog was right – which leg should be moved first? The centipede stood there for a few minutes, couldn’t move, wobbled, and fell down. And he said to the frog: Please don’t ask another centipede this question. I have been walking throughout my life and it was never a problem, and now you have killed me completely! I cannot move. And a hundred legs to move! How can I manage…
To be a real philosopher all that is necessary is to hate someone else’s type of thinking.
– William James