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Ladies and gents our story begins with our author who one day packed up his bags to spend the next 5 years of his life on some tropical island far far away. This land is not like any place he has ever been to before. There is no telling of what he may encounter during his stay there but one thing is sure he is going to be in for one crazy adventure. And this is where you get to read about it.

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The stories told here maybe appear larger than in real life and at times may even appear outlandish. However, all actual events are in fact real (well, most of them). What may appear as a distortion of reality to some may only be due to the author's perspective of the actual events. Some say he is just not right in the head.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The four elements

"What are the four elements?"

That was the question presented to our quiz-b contestants. It was one of the few questions that I could actually answer. Hell, my nephew probably could have answered this question back when he was five but here it was presented to all of us college students. As each participating group held up their answers upon white eraser boards they all read the same, air, fire, water, and earth. It was the same exact answer I thought to myself as I was sitting there. I was feeling a little good about my self right about then until the judge announced that they were all incorrect.

"The correct answer is" she stated, "air, wind, water, and fire."

The contestants looked confused. The audience booed. It seemed like everyone there hand the same answer in mind. Well, except for the judge. Granted the question was a little vague but I think we were all safe in assuming that the question was pertaining to the "four classic elements" of Greek philosophy. Even if it wasn't, in such broad classifications couldn't wind or air be included as part of one or the other? Then logically there would have only been three elements according to her answer. Even more so, logic should have told her that earth (you know the stuff that comprises the ground we walk on ) probably should have been included in there some place.

Despite everyone's protest however the judge stood stubornly by her answer. Even after when one of the students explained to her how it was the Greek philosopher Empedocles who stated that all mater was made up from air, water, fire and earth. The judge's response to the student was that she got the answer from some encyclopedia. I don't know what encyclopedia she was referring to but in all likelihood if it was indeed a credible source what it probably stated was that the four elements consisted of water, fire, air or wind, and earth.

Now everyone makes mistakes. There is nothing wrong with that or even in admitting that you were wrong when proven so. However, the problem here was that she wasn't supposed to wrong. She was the infallible and supreme quiz-b judge after all. Give me a break, as if being a judge for a school quiz-b makes her almighty. If she could have just opened her mind to what everyone was saying for maybe a second and put some of that pride of hers away then maybe she might have came out not looking so... well, stupid.

Pride and arrogance 1. Common sense 0.

Time for another segment of blogger education.

Many ancient civilizations have theorized their own "classical" set of elements in which they have used to explain all mater in the universe. And, earth is usually commonly found among these classic elemental sets.

The most widely known set of classic elements among those with western education is the one theorized by the Greek philosopher Empedocles. Some time during the 5th century BC, Empedocles stated that all matter of the universe can be made up of a combination of air, water, fire or earth. This same classic set of elements is still used today by astrologers to interpret the stars. Later the more popular Greek philosopher of this day, Aristotle, added aether to this set of elements to represent the stars/heavens above.

The Aristotelian set of elements can be likened to the five classic elements in Hinduism. In Hinduism belief the Panchamahabhuta, or "five great elements," are vayu or pavan (air or wind), ap or jala (water), agni or tejas (fire), are prithvi or bhumi (earth), and akasha (aether).

In Buddhism the word akasha is interpreted as "space" or "void". Thus, the Buddhism set of five classic elements consist of air, water, fire, earth, and void.

The five great elements (godai) of the early Japanese philosophy is similar to the Buddhism set of elements. In an ascending order of power they are chi (earth), sui (water), ka (fire), fuu (air or wind), and kuu (void).

In the Chinese philosophy of Taoism air or wind is not included in the set of five classic elements. The Chinese set of five classic elements include huo (fire), shui (water), mu (wood), jin (metal), tu (earth).These five classic elements also represent Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday respectively in the Chinese weekly calendar. (It's also the same in the Japanese calendar.)

There is another set of classic elements in the Chinese belief that incorporates the two missing elements from the Buddhism set of classic elements, feng (air) and kong (void). Thus in this second set the total number of elements is seven; void, fire, water, air, and earth.

So air, wind, water, and fire. Hmm...


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