We Need More of the Same!

A group of people are devoted to digging trenches. One day, they realize they would like to be able to sail from the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean. They think, "Perhaps we could dig a trench between them." But at that point in their history, the job is too technically daunting for them.

However, a couple of centuries later, their trench building capabilities having increased greatly, so that they now can, and do, build such a trench (a canal, we call it).

Someone in the group turns his eyes then to the moon. "We shall go to the moon as well."

"How?" the others ask.

"We will dig a trench there!"

One of the group, a little timidly, demurs: "But that is not even conceptually possible!"

"Ha!" the trench advocate scoffs, "in the past, the nay-sayers also said that we wouldn't be able to dig a trench between the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean! You will be proven just as wrong as they were!"

It should be obvious that if someone claims that, given the nature of trenches and the spatial relationship between the earth and the moon, a trench is not even a possible way to get from one to the other, it is no answer to point to earlier advances in trench building, no matter how spectacular they may have been. If the "nay-sayer" is wrong, it will have to be shown on the level of conceptual analysis (philosophy), not on the basis of the history of trench building!

And if the nay-sayer points this out, and is answered with talk about how we can now re-enforce trench walls much better than in previous times, it becomes obvious that the person answering has no grasp of what the actual difficulty is.


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