Someone left a comment on one of my blogs to the effect that Socrates was a fictional character…actually he writes, “fictitious” which I suppose is the same thing. Well, I am definitely not going to try and prove his existence (Socrates’ existence not the commentator’s) for the simple reason that I would have no idea HOW to prove it (you could try putting “Socrates” in Google and reading the thousands of hits that come up about “his life and times”, “the last days of…”, “..his influence on the philosophy of the western world…” but maybe some poor clod is just making all these links up).
I mean how are you going to prove that anyone existed?
Bugger me that is going to keep me awake all night!
I am sure that David Deutsch would have something to say about solipsism here but I don’t think I could handle his powerful logic right now.
Anyway, I was once doing an English course with a class of German business people and we listened to an interview about Ian Fleming who, assuming he existed, wrote the James Bond books. At the end of the lesson one student put up his hand and asked me if James Bond was still alive. I kind of looked at him…the way you would...and the rest of the class kind of chuckled mildly…
I said, “erm…how do you mean ‘is he still alive?’...
“Well, I haven’t seen him on TV much recently…”
The class kind of chuckled a bit more but I could see that this poor deluded chap was really serious!!
It put me in a difficult situation…he obviously really BELIEVED that James Bond was a real person...and it was going to be ME who would have to tell him the bitter truth and destroy his illusions…
So I told him the bitter truth and his illusions were destroyed and he looked totally devastated and I felt like a swine!
The question is; is it better to let someone think that someone who does exist doesn’t exist or that someone who doesn’t exist does exist?
For the tiny minority of visitors still reading this - please address your answers to “Santa Klaus, North Pole”.