Orwell’s 1984:

In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality, was tacitly denied by their philosophy. The heresy of heresies was common sense. And what was terrifying was not that they would kill you for thinking otherwise, but that they might be right. For, after all, how do we know that two and two make four? Or that the force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable? If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable—what then?

This leads to some interesting questions that I haven’t yet been able to resolve. Orwell suggests that we can’t know if two plus two is actually four or five or pi, and he never gives any explanation or indication for why we might know such a thing. So that’s left as an open question to ponder: How can we be sure that two plus two equals anything at all? From that perspective, how can we be sure of anything? Is there any truth at all? I’m not sure, but I haven’t seen any reason to believe that truth might exist.

I’ll write more when I have time to organize my thoughts.


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