Friday, February 3, 2012

On Apathy

"Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all - the apathy of human beings." - Helen Keller

     Science has its limits. However much we'd like to think that science has the potential to remedy all evils in the world, it can't. Unfortunately, our current science is limited to the the mind. I'm sure most people wouldn't see the mind as any sort of limitation, but we truly don't know what we don't know. In our fallen world, our earthly brains are never generating anything truly new. Our brains can merely re-form what already exists. To use a metaphor, we can create "new" colors by combining different colors from the spectrum, but it is impossible for us to imagine an entirely new color; one that doesn't appear anywhere in the color spectrum--a color that we cannot describe, picture, or create in our minds because it simply doesn't exist. I personally believe that such colors exist (perhaps in heaven or another dimension), but our current science cannot find them because science can only mix the colors from our existing spectrum. Granted, there are an infinity of possible combinations of color in our spectrum, but even that infinity may exclude an entirely unknown spectrum of new color.
    For example, if you could only see in grayscale, and all your computers and scientific instruments could only measure grayscale, there would still be an infinity of grays. But what about red? You or your instruments could never know or comprehend the color red.
     In the same way, Hellen Keller did not, and could not ever comprehend the color red, even though she knew it existed. Science could not cure her.
     (At this point, Paul reads what he just wrote and feels very Aristotelian.) 
     Science has the potential to only explain or remedy things within human comprehension, and, according to Helen Keller, the cure of apathy is out of the reach of scientific explanation. 

     I currently attend an online high school for two of my home schooled classes. A classmate asked me several months ago how I thought apathy could be combated in the school setting. Being the wonderfully punctual person I am, I promptly procrastinated in answering the question until now. If we can learn one thing from Helen Keller on the subject of apathy, it's that it cannot be solved with any scientific study, school-wide program, government strategy, or calculated change in class content. Why? Because apathy doesn't originate in the mind. It cannot be remedied in the mind. It originates in the heart, and it must be changed in the heart. Apathy in a school setting has to be routed out on an individual basis. You can't force someone to care, or even give them a scientifically proven pill to make them care. They have to care on their own accord. 
    Moral of the story: the mind might not be able to remedy some of the deeper problems in life, but a change of heart always can.

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