At the end of my first book, Disconnected, I included the following words:
“Every man and woman owes a debt to those that came before and those that walk the earth beside them. Writers and thinkers especially so. For their task is to add a brick to the infinite structure built by people now dead, and being worked on by people still living.”
I still agree with the sentiment expressed in that passage. But I now disagree with what exactly we can do to the “infinite structure”. I’d originally thought that all we could do was “add a brick”, make a contribution by building the wall even higher. But now I realise we can do more.
When considering the infinite structure and seeking to improve it, we have two choices. The one I mentioned; addition. The other is subtraction. As well as adding a new brick, making the wall higher or stabilising its base, we can remove faulty bricks. We can examine the existing structure and highlight the weaknesses and liabilities we find.
This is, I believe, the true character of revolution in different domains of knowledge. When Copernicus placed the Sun, instead of the Earth, at the centre of the Solar System, we had to rebuild the Wall. When the Gutenburg press came around, we had to remake the Wall that dictated the transfer of information. When computers were created, we had to re-develop the Wall which told us how to think about the world and what the upper end of human potential was. We had to do these things because of discoveries relating to our fundamental understanding of the world and ourselves. We had to do these things because individuals examined foundational bricks in the Infinite Structure and found them wanting.