Wii wish you a Thinking Christmas

Categories: Winnthinks

It’s a piece of text I’ve commented on before but it continues to fascinate me. I was reminded of it again on Sunday night when watching that nice Professor Brian Cox on TV deliver a lecture on quantum physics. (First off, it takes an extraordinary presenter to get me voluntarily watching a lecture on quantum physics; but even more extraordinary is the fact that I pretty much followed 60% of it. Maybe Professor Cox semi-hypnotises me into a receptive state with those astonishingly white teeth of his).


The piece of text is this: “Nothing exists except atoms and void. Everything else is opinion.”

Now that sounds like a pretty smart observation to me in any day and age. But even more boggling is that these words were found on an ancient fragment and accredited to a thinker called Democritus, who lived in Thrace at the end of the 5th century BCE.

From these words, it is reckoned, we have evidence that the ancient Greeks worked out basic atomic theory – the same theory that Professor Cox was talking about – just by thinking it through. No micro-telescopes, no computer models, just the power of concentrated human thought. Phew.

If the ancient Greeks – in a newly civilised world which had yet to discover so many of the secrets of life, the universe and everything that we now accept as common knowledge – could think their way to a conclusion like that, imagine what potential breakthroughs you and I might be squeezing out day after day by failing to engage with our full thinking potential. Moreover, imagine how we actively dissuade our thoughts from revealing what they could thanks to the continual bombardment of technology every minute of the day. What are we not discovering in those pounding, visually stimulating, aurally surround-sounded moments?

Maybe this Christmas we should switch off the telly more (sorry Prof Cox), pull out the iPod earpieces, unplug the Wii and find a quiet corner to dream in instead. Who knows what enlightenment might come our way? We may not discover the next immutable law of nature, but we might just discover a little bit of understanding about ourselves and others that we hadn’t really given our full attention to before.

What do you think?

Merry Christmas, one and all.

One comment

  1. Those Greeks!… just have to admire them, along with the Dogon people who knew there were more planets than officially accepted at the time, or other such ancient races, and individuals from time gone by who spoke of things that only now we are finding are true or possible.
    We think we have the edge on scientific learning, but all science begins with a thought which is then pursued- how the ancients came up with the intuitions and answers they did may never be fully known but we are really just recycling/rediscovering a lot of them, tapping into the collective consciousness perhaps, that great bank of Wisdom open to all who open themselves up to it. Ancient Wisdom has often been rejected as uneducated nonsense but, as Professor Cox so smilingly confirms this is just not the case: We all have the potential of that wisdom inside us- the creative power of our thoughts are just so underused.
    As you so rightly say Becky, what power might we unleash if we spent more time developing our thoughts and understanding on all levels. The power of thought, however has the power to hurt as well as heal so we need to tread with mindfulness and also create with the best of intent. Thanks Becky for such a stimulating piece of writing.

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