In disorder of importance, these are The Big Questions. The ones we will return to over and over again, whether you like it or not. Zach and Ethan provide their rapid-fire answers.
1. Nature vs. Nurture?-Zach goes with Narture. Or Nurtare. He feels offended that he has to choose a side. As if he’s being told, “You’re either with us or against us” by George W. Bush. Ethan defends the question, then begs it, then dodges it, then defends it some more. Nature and nurture are both complicated matrices. It all comes down to assigning blame and guilt. Punishment and forgiveness. The correct answer is … It’s both! But why? Ethan says there is no difference between the two. Zach says it all comes down to Adnan Syed. Obviously! Ethan and Zach agree (whaaa?) that he’s guilty. And assuming he’s guilty, the question becomes, was he born a monster or did he become one because of his environment? And Ethan maintains that the two scenarios are indiscernible. Zach compares the question to a car. What causes it to move, the engine or the gas? Ethan says it’s like the chicken or the egg. Zach is clearly better at metaphors.
2. Monism vs. Multiplicitism? Is everything one thing or is everything a bunch of different things? Ethan says everything is one thing, but allows for the possibility of infinite things arising from that one thing. He compares himself to Spinoza, who said that there is a single substance with infinite attributes. Zach calls himself a paradoxicalist. There are certain questions that the mind simply recognizes as a paradox. If there’s only one thing, then numbers don’t exist. Ethan gets hungry and starts talking about bread. And then, in a moment of famished honesty, admits that he only decided on monism because he wanted to eliminate the subject-object distinction. The great philosopher, Zachrates, has a deep thought: the very word, “decision,” is closely related to the word, “to cut,” implying that there are, in the end, multiple things. But Ethan counters that every word he is forced to utter is simply a necessary evil of multiplcitism. In other words, they are attributes of the single substance known as the universe, which can never truly be spoken. This is not really such a new idea. It stretches back as far as the Pre-Zachratics.
3. Is the universe infinite? Just another issue about numbers, says Zach. Infinity is a mental construct. Therefore, nothing is infinite. Infinity is the mental act of putting one thing next to another and saying that you can do that infinitely. But what Ethan means is, will the universe continue expanding infinitely? And in order to ask the question, he has to defend the very notion of time itself! Zach insists on the limits of knowledge. But just because we can’t know what will happen, doesn’t mean that nothing will happen. In fact, something will happen! It’s just like The Hubble Deep Field, says Zach. Obviously! For the rare listener who doesn’t know, The Hubble Deep Field is a photo of a tiny dark spot in the universe, assembled from multiple images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in the nineties. The result: buttloads of distant galaxies!
4. Optimism vs. Pessimism? It all cums back to vagina for Zach. If he’s close to vagina, he’s an optimist. Otherwise, he’s a pessimist. So he’s a circumstantial optimist. Or a determinist. Or a vaginist. But more importantly, he’s a quadinist, always getting caught up in the Number 4. Number 4. Number 4. Number 4. Thou shalt not kill, right? Ethan’s a wary optimist. He admits that pessimism is useful. And the question is useful because it drives much of what Ethan does. Finally, Ethan and Zach agree (whaaa!) that they are different. Ethan’s definition of optimism arises from his awareness of the world, as a whole. While Zach’s definition arises from his awareness of himself, as a part.
5. Free will vs. Determinism? Not answered.