Posted in Philosophy

Black Cat

Philosophy is like being in a dark room and looking for a black cat.

Metaphysics is like being in a dark room and looking for a black cat that is not there.

Theology is like being in a dark room and looking for a black cat that is not there and shouting “I found it!”

Science is like being in a dark room and looking for a black cat using a flashlight.

Posted in Psychology & Medicine


If you were walking along the street and found a bird lying on the ground, how would you react? You would probably poke the bird to see if it is alive. We have a peculiar habit since we are children of poking living things that we see for the first time. Through poking, we discover whether it is alive or dead, soft or hard, slimy or furry, docile or aggressive.

Prompting a reaction and observing the reaction is a surprisingly useful way of learning. In chemistry, we react an unknown substance with other chemicals to discover its identity. In medicine, we stimulate parts of the brain with electricity to discover what each part does. In physics, we build giant accelerator to crash particles together to find out their constituents and properties. If you fell into a cave so dark you cannot see even one foot ahead of you, the best way to find out if there is a wall or a hole or water ahead of you is throwing a rock in that direction.

This principle can be applied to psychology. To learn how people around you behave, provoke them. Human beings are extremely sensitive to stimuli and even when they consciously try to hide it, they will subconsciously react. If you keep (subtly) poking the person, you will soon be able to predict how they will react to something, what actions they will take, and you may even discover what is on their mind.

We cannot see the wind, but we can infer that it exists because the leaves blow. The best way to prove something that you cannot see inducing and looking for reactions.

Posted in History & Literature

Elements: Yin And Yang

Yin-yang is a frame of thinking that can be considered a fundamental basis of Eastern philosophy. In ancient Far East Asia, people categorised everything of nature as yin or yang, including natural phenomenon such as human physiology. Yang() is a masculine element, yin() is a feminine element and the two represent the countless symmetries found in nature. Just as there is a sky for the earth, a sun for the moon, a man for a woman and strength for softness, every phenomena in human societies and the universe can be identified in relative terms. The concept of reducing these to a plus and a minus to explain natural events is the concept of yin and yang.

For example, consider a hill in the sunlight. The bright side is called the “yang place” and the opposite, dark side is called the “yin place”. Thus, light is yang, darkness is yin. That is not all. The air that is heated by sunlight becomes warm and rises, while cold air sinks because it is heavy. Yang symbolises heat, lightness and upward, active movement while yin symbolises cold, heaviness and downward, sluggish movement. But that does not mean that yin is bad and yang is good. The reason being, everything that counters each other in nature coexists and forms a balance. Also, as time passes, the sun will move from the east to the west, making the sunny place dark and the dark place sunny. Yin-yang is a law that shows the relativity of nature very well. It shows that everything is relative to each other even if they seem like opposites, forming a harmonious balance and cycle.

Balance forms harmony and nature always seeks harmony. For example, traditional Korean and Chinese medicine is based on the concept that the reason why diseases occur is because of the balance of yin and yang in the human body being broken. To restore the balance, acupuncture and herbal remedies are used, restoring good health. A broken harmony is due to one side being greater than the other as yin and yang form a zero-sum game. This means that as one side waxes, the other side wanes and vice versa, with the sum of the two being equal at all times. But this does not mean that yin and yang oppress and fight each other. Instead, the two rely on each other despite being opposites. In this world, there is no light without darkness. There is no forwards without backwards and no life without death. For instance, if there were only men (yang) in this world, the human race would be wiped out in one generation. But if yin and yang coexist to help each other and form a union, they give birth to a new generation. Nature always exists as a perfectly balanced coexistence of two polarities. When yin and yang form a balance they form something even greater than their sum, which is harmony.

1 + 1 = 3

(Image source

Posted in History & Literature


When you close your eyes, what do you see? When you look into the night sky, what do you see? Most people describe darkness as pitch black, but this is not quite true.
The colour that we see in perfect darkness is not black, but more of a dark grey colour. This colour has a special term called eigengrau, which is German for “intrinsic grey”. Similarly, when you look into the night sky the actual colour is a deep navy.

The reason for this is that the brain uses relative contrast to determine true black rather than the absolute brightness. So when you see darkness, the optic nerve still fires off some signals that the brain interprets as eigengrau. When you see a black object, the brain compares it to the surrounding to cancel this effect out to see true black.

The night sky is lit with stars and the moon, giving it a darker colour than eigengrau due to contrast, while retaining the blue hue produced by the dust diffracting light in a particular manner. Because of this, ninjas actually wore dark navy clothes instead of the black that we associate with them in the present.

An interesting point regarding darkness is that people often see it as a symbol of the negative side (e.g. The Dark Side). However, darkness is technically the opposite of light. It is in fact defined by the absence of light, which in other words suggests it is the default state.

The default state of the universe is nothing.