In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, he and his friend Horatio are presented with the spectre of Hamlet’s late father’s ghost, who informs Hamlet of his uncle’s treachery. Horatio calls this confrontation “wondrous strange”, to which Hamlet replies:
And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.Hamlet: Act I, Scene V
There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio,
Then are dream’t of in our Philosophy.
Hamlet is basically saying that we shouldn’t shy away from things that we don’t understand, simply because they don’t fit into what we consider to be established scientific fact or received wisdom.
Now I know that this short, three line quote has been discussed ad-infinitum, but I personally do think it’s a good metaphor for how we should approach things that we don’t, at first, understand; particularly when we are looking at things which are considered paranormal or supernatural.
After all, the railway was only invented about 200 years ago, and popular opinion at the time was that it would travel too fast for its passengers to be able to breathe. Likewise, human powered flight was achieved only a little over 100 years ago. But, could you imagine someone from Shakespeare’s time being able to comprehend that humans would one day be able to get from London to Paris via an undersea tunnel in just over 2 hours, or that you could take the same journey through the air in just over an hour? I imagine that Horatio’s exclamation would be a little stronger and would probably question your sobriety!
It’s been just over 400 years since Shakespeare put quill to paper, and in that time there has seen some truly staggering advances in scientific endeavour and understanding, and we now take such things for granted.
So, that is what I intend Horatio’s Philosophy to be about – a look at subjects which some consider outlandish and outrageous, but with an eye to the underlying information to see if there isn’t, somewhere, some grain of truth that we simply do not yet understand.