3367Re: Sherlock and Rationality in Mordern Times
- Feb 11, 2012In *A Study in Scarlet*, Watson says of Holmes, "His ignorance was as
remarkable as his knowledge. Of contemporary literature, philosophy and
politics he appeared to know next to nothing. Upon my quoting Thomas
Carlyle, he inquired in the naivest way who he might be and what he had
done. My surprise reached a climax, however, when I found incidentally that
he was ignorant of the Copernican Theory and of the composition of the
Solar System. That any civilized human being in this nineteenth century
should not be aware that the earth travelled round the sun appeared to be
to me such an extraordinary fact that I could hardly realize it."
Holmes may have been a high-functioning sociopath, but he was a sociopath
nonetheless. Like an idiot savant, he had extraordinary skills within a
severely limited range. His rationality is that of Douglas Adams'
supercomputer, *Deep Thought, *whose ultimate answer to the ultimate
question of life is the number 42.
What price rationality, I wonder.
On 11 February 2012 14:46,
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> 1. Sherlock and Rationality in Mordern Times
> <http://in.groups.yahoo.com/group/SherlockHolmesSocietyofIndia/message/3365;_ylc=X3oDMTJxbWF1c2F2BF9TAzk3NDkwNDgwBGdycElkAzU4OTQ4NDUEZ3Jwc3BJZAMxNzIwMDE5NjYxBG1zZ0lkAzMzNjUEc2VjA2Rtc2cEc2xrA3Ztc2cEc3RpbWUDMTMyODk1MTc3Nw--> Posted
> by: "tazrai@..." tazrai@...
> <tazrai@...?Subject=+Re%3A%20Sherlock%20and%20Rationality%20in%20Mordern%20Times> tazrai@...
> <http://profiles.yahoo.com/tazrai@...> Sat Feb 11, 2012 7:12 am
> In July 2010, Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat's spectacular new television
> series, Sherlock, aired in the UK. The three 90-minute episodes gave the
> public a much needed reminder of why Arthur Conan Doyle's stories are so
> timeless, and why his greatest character is still a hero in modern times.
> Benedict Cumberbatch takes up the legendary role, with Martin Freeman in
> tow as Dr. Watson, and the pair are thrust into 21st century London, taking
> up their residence at 221B Baker Street. Holmes is infused with his usual
> intelligence, charm and charisma, and makes his deductions with
> characteristic ease. The series truly brings to light how rationality and
> logic are still valid today, and shows how elements of Holmes' character
> can be of a benefit in the modern world.
> Rationality, as Holmes displays throughout the classic stories and modern
> episodes, is much misunderstood in today's world. Holmes himself comments
> in "A Study in Pink" (the first episode of the BBC series, a play on the
> title of the first Holmes story A Study in Scarlet), "I am not a
> psychopath, Anderson, I am a high-functioning sociopath." This perception
> of the rational mind as cold, unemotional, and therefore somehow evil
> pervades into modern times, perhaps left over from society's deeply
> irrational past (even in Holmes' time, brandy was used as something of an
> all-purpose cure by medical professionals)**. The truth, as Sherlock so
> elegantly reminds us, is that a rational mind, undeterred by emotional
> consequences and well-schooled in deductive reasoning, can accomplish a lot.
> The sad truth is that in the modern world the general public's
> irrationality is often manipulated. Whether it is a completely unjustified
> scare-story in a newspaper, politicians making unfeasible promises or
> pseudo-scientists trying to sell you homeopathic cures, people are trying
> to exploit you all the time. Sherlock Holmes, thanks to his mercilessly
> rational mind, is able to see through mystery as if it wasn't there. His
> careful unpicking of the cipher in "The Blind Banker" (the second episode
> of the TV series, based loosely on the Doyle story "The Adventure of the
> Dancing Men") serves as a perfect analogy. There are coded messages coming
> at you all the time, and just like Holmes, you have to make your own sense
> of them, and see the truth behind the mystery.
> Holmes makes these skills seem fantastical, but the truth is they are
> absolutely attainable. Rationality is as easy as asking questions, and
> thinking in terms of evidence, rather than conjecture. The original Holmes
> stories are beautifully-**aged gifts to the student of rationality, and
> Sherlock presents them in a modern and humorous package. For more
> information about Sherlock Holmes and rationality, see Taz Rai's eBook, The
> Art of Deduction.
> Taz Rai
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