Today In Fact, 23 May

Coming out of our shells. I have an abiding interest in limit conditions. Those situations and thoughts, beyond which we can merely shrug. I like them because they allow the light in. There was a time when we thought the earth was flat and so the limit condition was to fall off the edge. Our dreams were also personal limit conditions until Freud and Jung offered us understandings of the subconscious and collective unconscious. Doing work on the margins is called “edge-work” and it offers us a viable and exciting opportunity for innovation.

This is why I enjoy working with the homeless, street children, the foreigners and non-formal businesses. This is also why small towns and the youth provide us with the best chance we have to re-fashion a social and economic future that does not shut-out most of us.

Even among philosophers we can see certain limit conditions at work, hemming thinkers in and keeping them away from the edge. Philosophy has essentially continued to operate on the principle that knowledge is justified true belief. The obvious question that this definition entails is how you can know whether your justification is sound. You must therefore provide a justification for the justification.

That justification itself requires justification, and the questioning continues interminably. The conclusion is that no one can truly have knowledge of anything, since it is, due to this infinite regression, impossible to satisfy the justification element.

This philosophical problem is often referred to as: “it’s turtles all the way”. The saying comes from public engagements with sceptics who argued with people who said that the world was resting on a giant world elephant which stood on a giant turtle, then “it’s turtles all the way”.

I was prompted to reflect on my love of limit conditions by reading that today is World Turtle Day. A day to save and support the survival of tortoises, terrapins and turtles.

Well perhaps it’s not just turtles that need saving . We need to explore and work more on the margins and with people living on the edge of society. We need to keep challenging our limit conditions because it only through this edge-work that we can create an inclusive and caring society

Douglas Racionzer (see more of Doug’s daily musings at