I do not know how you can drink that stuff, I tell the Owner.
If is Coffee, says the Owner, it is a Human Vice. Besides, she says, I do not see how you can Sniff that Stuff.
It is Fox Poo, I say, it is Sent from Heaven for the Moral Dog.
Perhaps, says the Owner, the taste of Coffee to me is the same as the Scent of Fox Poo to you.
That, I say, is a Truly Horrible idea. It is an Insult to Fox Poo.
Or not, says the Owner.
I suppose you have some Tricky Philosophical Example designed to Broaden the Thinking of the Moral Dog, I say.
Indeed, says the Owner. I am thinking of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s “beetle in the box” thought experiment.
I thought we had agreed that Ludwig Wittgenstein was a Bit of a Misery, I say.
He was, says the Owner. I always felt that if he and Nietzsche had had a party it would have Ended Badly. Indeed it Probably would have Started Badly Too. But he Nevertheless had a Good Idea about our Unique Experience.
Did it involve some kid of gloomy Introversion? I ask.
Not at all, says the Owner. Wittgenstein suggested that we imagine a group of people who each have a box containing something called a ‘beetle’. No one can see into anyone else’s box, only into their own.
This is sounding More Exciting by the Minute, I say.
Bear with me, says the Owner. Everyone is asked to say what is in their Box. One may have an ant, another a frog, but all must call them Beetle. Eventually the word Beetle will come to mean different things to different people.
That is nonsense, I say. Nobody could mistake a Frog for a beetle, I say, not even Wittgenstein.
The mental experiment makes us think about how we describe our unique experiences, says the Owner. The beetle is like our minds.
Speak for yourself, I say.
We can never know exactly what other people are experiencing, says the Owner. So, if someone says they are experiencing pain or love, we can never really know what that experience is like for them and whether it is the same for us.
You mean it is possible that, to me, Fox Poo tastes like coffee does to you? I ask.
Exactly, says the Owner.
If this is what Wittgenstein spent his life thinking about, I say, it must have been One Long Tragedy.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.