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Oh, The Thinks You Can Think!

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Posted 09/09/12 - 12:06 PM:
Subject: Oh, The Thinks You Can Think!
So I recently began rereading "Dr. Seuss and Philosophy". For some ODD reason I could never get very far past the awesome "Introduction In Verse". I would just keep reading and rereading the introduction. (It always makes me smile.) A little tribute to Seussian fans.

Unsettled Meddling
By Jacob M Held

"It started way back,
when I was quite small
I would simply ask “why?”
one question, that’s all.

I would wait for an answer,
sometimes it would come
“Because,” “I Don’t Know,”
“Ask your father or mum.”

But it never stopped there
The questions kept coming.
And answers were lacking,
adults kept “ho-humming.

”It would start out quite simply
and then get all muddled
I’d ask just one question
and end up befuddled.

Why is the sky blue? or
Why are plants green?
Why are they poor?
and Why is he mean?

Why should I be good?
Who put you in charge?
My mind would start racing
as questions loomed large.

Why are we here?
What ought I do?
Is there a rhyme,
or a reason, or two?

Can it be learned,
can I learn it, from who?
Will the answers be certain,
or guesses, who knew?

My mind was unsettled,
my brain never rested
But everyone moaned when
their answers were tested.

I meant them no harm,
I truly did not
But I wanted some reasons
for “why,” “which,” and “what?”

Their moaning made sense
when I learned that adults
Although bigger and stronger,
respectable folks

Were confused just like me,
but had stopped asking “why?”
They just didn’t care,
so they just didn’t try.

Or maybe they cared
and that’s why they had ceased
When you care about answers,
doubt leads to unease.

The questions I asked
were very unsettling
And unsettled folks
don’t appreciate meddling.

But questions are things
that are meant to be asked,
Meddling’s our nature,
unsettling’s our task.

When I got older
I went off to school
To college to learn from
professors who knew.

I learned about dinosaurs,
classics, geology
African poetry,
gods, and psychology.

But philosophy,
that was the first course to show me
That questions, not answers,
are how we keep growing.

We ask them because
we’re inquisitive beings
We’re naturally
wonder-full, curious things.

I decided that asking
is what I should do
And I’d help others
get good at it too!

A philosopher,
that’s what I wanted to be
I’d never leave college,
I’d stay here and teach.

My parents were
less than excited, you see
College for them
was about a degree

And degrees are just things
for getting good jobs
And good jobs pay lots,
oh yes money in gobs.

But philosophy isn’t
that kind of position
It won’t earn you fame
and there is no commission.

And some don’t think teaching’s
a worthwhile job
“Those who can’t do . . .”
say the ignorant mob.

For people like this
life is just about stuff,
Having more than your neighbor
and never enough.

For these types of folks
it’s all fortune and fame
What pays off is good,
what does not is lame.

So they don’t, and they won’t,
and they can’t understand
It’s wisdom, not money
that makes a life grand.

So I kept on pondering
year after year
Up to this point
with me sitting right here

A professor, philosopher,
questioning guy
Seeker of answers,
asker of “Why?”

For questions are things
that are meant to be asked,
And answers are things
that are meant to be passed . . .

Passed on to the next
generation of Why-er
Passed by when they’re old,
outdated, and tired.

I’ve met many strange birds
as I’ve travelled this road
And some of them helped
write the book that you hold.

These doubters and why-ers
these fabulous scholars
Address some big questions
and offer some answers.

We begin with a
huge, spectacular query
One for which all thinkers
have their own theory.

The meaning of life,
now we are talking
A question so big
it leaves everyone gawking.

A question so big
it can’t fit in one mind
So I’ve gathered a few
to help with this bind.

But the number of answers
is too great to count
And the answers we’ve counted
are too great to mount

In the pages that follow,
you’ll just have to deal
with a brief introduction
to a very large field.

Ancients and Moderns,
Greek, German, and French
All play the game,
no one’s left on the bench.

They’ll tell you to flourish,
live well free of pain.
Or perish and suffer,
and struggle in vain.

They might be quite playful
or doleful and dry
But at least these dear fellows
do give it a try.

We have theories and guesses
and tries by the oodle
Enough twisted fellows to
twist up your noodle

And when thoroughly twisted
we’ll keep right on going
We’ll ask about knowledge
our minds over-flowing.

“What can I know?”
And why does it matter
and how does it go?

This stuff is important
for one cannot travel
the road of the wise
if one can’t unravel

The true from the false,
the sense from the babble
The solid and firm from
the dribble and drabble.

And once we begin to
get smarter on smarts
We can move ourselves on
to the ethical arts.

There’s so much one can think
o’er the good and the bad
And so many dear thinkers
and thoughts that they’ve had.

We’ll do our best
to give you a view
A snapshot or glimpse
o’er a theory or two.

We’ve got Greeks once again,
and our German friend Kant
As well as a Scotsman,
that’s more than you’ll want.

We’ll do all the theory,
apply it as well
To issues like nature
and business pell mell.

We’ll give you a history
as well as some praxis
And then we’ll move on
to grind other axes.

It’s off to the realm
of political thought
Where it isn’t just
personal questions of “ought.”

Now we will wonder
about our relations
How people should be
and what of their nations.

Contracts and property,
how to divide it
Diversity, needs,
all the ways to contrive it

And once we’ve wound through
these odd wiggled roads
we will find that our story
has not all been told

there are questions that still
have yet to be asked
but this book isn’t big enough
for such a huge task.

Clearly one book
can’t hold all the big thoughts
So we haven’t discussed all the
whys, whats, and oughts.

This book offers a glimpse
It’s merely one look
If you seek understanding
you’ll need more than one book."

What's your favorite Seussian book(s)? Why is it your favorite? What's your favorite quote(s) of his?

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Posted 09/11/12 - 12:52 PM:

My personal fave is "The Lorax". It's so sad and full of hope at the same time. One of my favorite Seuss quotes is from that book -"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not!"
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