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"I felt very angry this afternoon," Lily announced. "My Childcare group was at the play area, and we had a visiting group of Sevens, and they didn't obey the rpolygon coin worth itules at all. One of them — a male; I don't know his name — kept going right to the front of the line for the slide, even though the rest of us were all waiting. I felt so angry at him. I made my hand into a fist, like this." She held up a clenched fist and the rest of the family smiled at her small defiant gesture.

The audience applause, which was enthusiastic uniswap listing bot telegramat each Naming, rose in an exuberant swell when one parental pair, glowing with pride, took a male new child and heard him named Caleb.This new Caleb was a replacement child. The couple had lost their first Caleb, a cheerful little Four. Loss of a child was very, very rare. The community was extraordinarily safe, each citizen watchful and protective of all children. But somehow the first little Caleb had wandered away unnoticed, and had fallen into the river. The entire community had performed the Ceremony of Loss together, murmuring the name Caleb throughout an entire day, less and less frequently, softer in volume, as the long and somber day went on, so that the little Four seemed to fade away gradually from everyone's consciousness.

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Now, at this special Naming, the community performed the brief Murmur-of-Replacement Ceremony, repeating the name for the first time since the loss: softly and slowly at first, then faster and with greater volume, as the couple stood on the stage with the new child sleeping in the mother's arms. It was as if the first Caleb were returning.Another new child was given the name Roberto, and Jonas remembered that Roberto the Old had been released only last week. But there was no Murmur-of-Replacement Ceremony for the new little Roberto. Release was not the same as Loss.He sat politely through the ceremonies of Two and Three and Four, increasingly bored as he was each year. Then a break for midday meal — served outdoors — and back again to the seats, for the Fives, Sixes, Sevens, and finally, last of the first day's ceremonies, the Eights.Jonas watched and cheered as Lily marched proudly to the stage, became an Eight and received the identifying jacket that she would wear this year, this one with smaller buttons and, for the first time, pockets, indicating that she was mature enough now to keep track of her own small belongings. She stood solemnly listening to the speech of firm instructions on the responsibilities of Eight and doing volunteer hours for the first time. But Jonas could see that Lily, though she seemed attentive, was looking longingly at the row of gleaming bicycles, which would be presented tomorrow morning to the Nines.Next year, Lily-billy, Jonas thought.

It was an exhausting day, and even Gabriel, retrieved in his basket from the Nurturing Center, slept soundly that night.Finally it was the morning of the Ceremony of Twelve."But even in everyday life we use complex ideas without stopping to wonder whether they are valid. For example, take the question of T--or the ego. This was the very basis of Descartes's philosophy. It was the one clear and distinct perception that the whole of his phi-losophy was built on."

"I hope Hume didn't try to deny that I am me. He'd be talking off the top of his head.""Sophie, if there is one thing I want this course to teach you, it's not to jump to conclusions.""Sorry. Go on.""No, why don't you use Hume's method and analyze what you perceive as your 'ego.' "

"First I'd have to figure out whether the ego is a single or a complex idea.""And what conclusion do you come to?"

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"I really have to admit that I feel quite complex. I'm very volatile, for instance. And I have trouble making up my mind about things. And I can both like and dislike the same people.""In other words, the 'ego concept' is a 'complex idea.' ""Okay. So now I guess I must figure out if I have had a corresponding 'complex impression' of my own ego. And I guess I have. I always had, actually.""Does that worry you?"

"I'm very changeable. I'm not the same today as I was when I was four years old. My temperament and how I see myself alter from one minute to the next. I can suddenly feel like I am a 'new person.' ""So the feeling of having an unalterable ego is a false perception. The perception of the ego is in reality a long chain of simple impressions that you have never experienced simultaneously. It is 'nothing but a bundle or collection of different perceptions, which succeed one another with an inconceivable rapidity, and are in a perpetual flux and movement,' as Hume expressed it. The mind is 'a kind of theater, where several perceptions successively make their appearance; pass, re-pass, slide away, and mingle in an infinite variety of postures and situations.' Hume pointed out that we have no underlying 'personal identity' beneath or behind these perceptions and feelings which come and go. It is just like the images on a movie screen. They change so rapidly we do not register that the film is made up of single pictures. In reality the pictures are not connected. The film is a collection of instants.""I think I give in.""Does that mean you give up the idea of having an unalterable ego?"

"I guess it does.""A moment ago you believed the opposite. I should add that Hume's analysis of the human mind and his rejection of the unalterable ego was put forward almost 2,500 years earlier on the other side of the world."

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"Who by?""By Buddha. It's almost uncanny how similarly the two formulate their ideas. Buddha saw life as an unbroken succession of mental and physical processes which keep people in a continual state of change. The infant is not the same as the adult; I am not the same today as I was yesterday. There is nothing of which I can say 'this is mine,' said Buddha, and nothing of which I can say 'this is me.' There is thus no T or unalterable ego."

"Yes, that was typically Hume.""In continuation of the idea of an unalterable ego, many rationalists had taken it for granted that man had an eternal soul.""Is that a false perception too?""According to Hume and Buddha, yes. Do you know what Buddha said to his followers just before he died?""No, how could I?"" 'Decay is inherent in all compound things. Work out your own salvation with diligence.' Hume could have said the same thing. Or Democritus, for that matter. We know at all events that Hume rejected any attempt to prove the immortality of the soul or the existence of God. That does not mean that he ruled out either one, but to prove religious faith by human reason was rationalistic claptrap, he thought. Hume was not a Christian, neither was he a confirmed atheist. He was what we call an agnostic."

"What's that?""An agnostic is someone who holds that the existence of God or a god can neither be proved nor disproved. When Hume was dying a friend asked him if he believed in life after death. He is said to have answered:

"It is also possible that a knob of coal placed upon the fire will not burn.""I see."

"The answer was typical of his unconditional open-mindedness. He only accepted what he had perceived through his senses. He held all other possibilities open. He rejected neither faith in Christianity nor faith in miracles. But both were matters of faith and not of knowledge or reason. You might say that with Hume's philosophy, the final link between faith and knowledge was broken.""You say he didn't deny that miracles can happen?"

"That didn't mean that he believed in them, more the opposite. He made a point of the fact that people seemed to have a powerful need of what we today would call 'supernatural' happenings. The thing is that all the miracles you hear of have always happened in some far distant place or a long, long time ago. Actually, Hume only rejected miracles because he had never experienced any. But he had not experienced that they couldn't happen either.""You'll have to explain that.""According to Hume, a miracle is against the laws of nature. But it is meaningless to allege that we have experienced the laws of nature. We experience that a stone falls to the ground when we let go of it, and if it didn't fall--well, then we experienced that.'1""I would say that was a miracle--or something supernatural."

"So you believe there are two natures--a 'natural' and a 'supernatural.' Aren't you on the way back to the rationalistic claptrap?""Maybe, but I still think the stone will fall to the ground every time I let go."

"Why?""Now you're being horrible."

"I'm not horrible, Sophie. It's never wrong for a philosopher to ask questions. We may be getting to the crux of Hume's philosophy. Tell me how you can be so certain that the stone will always fall to the earth.""I've seen it happen so many times that I'm absolutely certain."

"Hume would say that you have experienced a stone falling to the ground many times. But you have never experienced that it will always fall. It is usual to say that the stone falls to the ground because of the law of gravitation. But we have never experienced such a law. We have only experienced that things fall.""Isn't that the same thing?""Not completely. You say you believe the stone will fall to the ground because you have seen it happen so many times. That's exactly Hume's point. You are so used to the one thing following the other that you expect the same to happen every time you let go of a stone. This is the way the concept of what we like to call 'the unbreakable laws of nature' arises.""Did he really mean it was possible that a stone would not fall?"

"He was probably just as convinced as you that it would fall every time he tried it. But he pointed out that he had not experienced why it happens.""Now we're far away from babies and flowers again!"

"No, on the contrary. You are welcome to take children as Hume's verification. Who do you think would be more surprised if the stone floated above the ground for an hour or two--you or a one-year-old child?""I guess I would."

"Why?""Because I would know better than the child how unnatural it was."

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Perspectives of a 2x entrepreneur turned VC at @UpfrontVC#

Mark Suster

Written by

2x entrepreneur. Sold both companies (last to salesforce.com). Turned VC looking to invest in passionate entrepreneurs 〞 I*m on Twitter at @msuster

Both Sides of the Table

Perspectives of a 2x entrepreneur turned VC at @UpfrontVC, the largest and most active early-stage fund in Southern California. Snapchat: msuster

Mark Suster

Written by

2x entrepreneur. Sold both companies (last to salesforce.com). Turned VC looking to invest in passionate entrepreneurs 〞 I*m on Twitter at @msuster

Both Sides of the Table

Perspectives of a 2x entrepreneur turned VC at @UpfrontVC, the largest and most active early-stage fund in Southern California. Snapchat: msuster