Sunday, December 25, 2011

Philosophy

As part of my clock fascination I field quite a few questions from people working on their own clocks. This is due, in part, to the number of “how-to” kind of articles I have on my clock site, and in part to the articles that are published in the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors Bulletin. I quite enjoy these discussions, it gives me a chance to pass on some of the knowledge gained at the bench of a retired railroad watch inspector.

A couple of days ago a gentleman called to discuss the challenges he was having getting an antique German clock mechanism to work. He explained that the clock had belonged to he and his wife for 35 years now. But, he first wanted to comment on this blog. He discussed how he is not able to see all that well, but that he has a computer that can read text to him. And he had listened to my entire blog. He then asked if I was a philosopher.

Let’s say the question took me aback. Or, as a South African once said, “I was gobsmacked” - which is sort of like being taken aback, only in a bigger way.

Being the bright spark that I am, I responded “No, I am an engineer”.

We went on to discuss his mechanism, and I discussed some things he should look for, whereupon I had the chance to talk to his wife. See, she is his eyes in these endeavors. Just typing that gives me goose bumps. Talk about a really neat relationship? As I explained things to him it was clear that he picked up the concepts very quickly - he is also an engineer it turns out, with some great experiences. And then I also walked his wife through the same things, so she could be his hands.

I was a bit humbled. No, I was a bunch humbled. What a lovely conversation I had with these two people who had found ways to overcome challenges and rely on their mutual love and respect.

I seriously doubt I am beginning to get across how much their relationship impressed me.

But, back to his question: Am I a philosopher?

Being an engineer I will readily admit I have never really given much thought to philosophy - it turns out my definition of philosophy is focused on Merriam-Wester’s “a search for a general understanding of values and reality by chiefly speculative rather than observational means”. This pretty much leaves me out - I believe I am more of a hands on, try to understand what I see kind of guy.

But, as I kept reading what Merriam-Webster had on line, I found another definition: “the most basic beliefs, concepts, and attitudes of an individual or group”. So, in my efforts to explain my basic beliefs, concepts and attitudes, perhaps I am a philosopher. I will have to give this some thought.

And I will also think about how lucky I am to be able to see what I am doing when working on clocks.

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