Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Pursuit of Knowledge

I was having dinner with Lone a couple of days ago, and this hypothetical question just popped into my head. I wondered what Lone's take on it was, so I asked him,

"If a genie appeared right now, and said you'd have to choose either one of these two choices, which would you pick? One, you'd be filthy rich and gorgeous but stupid, and you'd drop dead in ten years. Two, you'd live to be a hundred years old, healthy and knowledgable, but you'd be poor and ugly."

Hypothetically speaking, if you picked the first choice, you would never have to worry about working or losing weight or being healthy or anything, you'd just be naturally rich and gorgeous, and you'll never suffer a sick day until the day, ten years later, you drop dead. But you'd also be stupid til the day you die, no matter how many books you try to read and no matter what you try to learn.

If you picked the second choice, you'd never have a sick day too, you'll have a long healthy life, and you'd be the wisest, most knowledgable person, but you'll never be able to make yourself rich, despite all your knowledge. You'd be poor and humble, and really ugly, but you don't have to worry about food or shelter because you will always have the bare necessities.

So what would your choice be?

I asked Lone.

He took a very very long time to think... but finally he answered, "I'll take the second choice."

"Why?" I asked.

Well, he said, I don't mind being ugly, and as long as all my bare necessities are provided, I don't mind being poor. I'm just thinking about what I would be able to do with each choice, and I feel that I'd be able to do more with the second choice, because I'd be wise and knowledgable. I would be able to help people.

Aww...what a swell guy. He wants to help people and make the world a better place. =)

Then he asked me which would I choose.

Initially, when I asked him the question, I didn't know what my answer would be too. But while he was taking such a long time to think, I thought about what my choice would be.

And I told him,

At first, I thought of taking the first choice, because I couldn't stand being hideous, and I don't mind dropping dead in ten years as long as I didn't suffer. It's not about how long you live, after all, it's about the quality of your life. And then I realized, no way... if I took the first choice, I'd be stupid no matter how I try. What kind of quality would my life have then?

So I decided, I'd rather have knowledge than beauty and wealth.

For purely selfish reasons.

I wasn't thinking like Lone, about how he could help others if he was wise and knowledgable.

I simply value the pursuit of knowledge above all else. It's of secondary importance to me whether my knowledge help others or not, or even if I did anything with it. What I wanted, was just to learn as much as I could absorb.


What would your choice be?