Bitcoin Is Edifying
THE BITCOIN ESSAYS
Originally Published February 2023
5 Minute Read
The term “edification” refers to the process of enhancing one’s knowledge, moral character, or overall well-being through experience and instruction. In its broadest sense, edification can encompass a wide range of activities, from formal education to personal development and self-improvement. It is a complex concept that encompasses not just the acquisition of knowledge, but also the development of critical thinking skills, emotional intelligence, and ethical values. In this essay, I will explore the meaning of edification and posit the idea that Bitcoin is not only a tool, but a teacher.
Beginning with the most fundamental, one quickly discovers that the acquisition of knowledge is of first order concern in the journey of edification. All other forms rely on this most basic assumption; that one has, and is free to obtain more information about themselves and the world they inhabit. Contrary to the postmodern whims of our contemporary age, knowledge is, even in most elementary form, self-evident and by definition knowable. From dawning light of childhood consciousness, each person begins with some vague sense of self, object permanence and associative memory. There is a certain precondition to knowledge that only builds from this primordial foundation and ultimately scales into the high-order consciousness of an adult mind.
From this base camp, edification begins it’s never-ending journey up the mountain, continuously acquiring new knowledge, and ultimately compressing this information into principled wisdom. In common parlance, we refer to the active use of this compressed information as critical thinking. This intentional activity requires high levels of conscientiousness to not only conceptualize the complexities of experience, but continuously improve the mental models the mind constructs. On occasion, these improvements can require extreme levels of deconstruction and a full, curious life is bound to encounter the predicament sooner or later. Perhaps here is an appropriate point to inject the novel information one encounters in Bitcoin since this discovery demands extreme deconstruction of preconceived notions about how the world works. We’ll begin with what Bitcoin “knowledge” is, how this knowledge demands critical thinking, and then continue our journey, in context, and explore the additional dimensions of edification that Bitcoin unveils.
The new knowledge one discovers in learning of Bitcoin, is that random information is, counterintuitively, highly valuable. Not necessarily any random information, but particularly, random information that has been apprehended and kept in the form of a high order secret. Consider this example: You sit across from me and roll one, six sided die. You note the number is 2 and then look to me for a guess. I guess three times and finally guess the number 2 correctly. We then repeat this process with two dice and three and then take a jump up to 7 dice. You roll the dice, lay them in order and then ask me to guess what I think the numbers are. Obviously this is an entirely different ask and I won’t even bother guessing because the sheer statistical magnitude of this ask is beyond any reasonable chance of success. In this scenario, there are 279,936 possible combinations. What this means is that you have generated a high order secret in which it was essentially free for you to produce, but entirely cost prohibitive for me to guess. This asymmetrical advantage is the essential knowledge one learns when first discovering Bitcoin. The knowledge being, you are FAR more powerful than you realize.
Upon learning this information, serious levels of critical thinking are required to not only pursue the merits of the idea further, but to consider what implications this development has for yourself and humanity at large. What is a blockchain? Why will there only ever be 21 Million Bitcoin? What are hash functions? How does Elliptic Curve Cryptography work, at least conceptually? What are Nodes and Miners? How was Bitcoin created and what makes it decentralized? How can the protocol be attacked? Have any attacks been successful? These questions go on and on but eventually the idea begins to conceptualize further to where the plausibility of this digital token becoming global money seems to be a real possibility. Our critical thinking then leads to deeper questions on money itself. What is money? Who decides what money is? Why were precious metals like gold and silver used as money throughout history? What is fiat? What are dollars? What are intermediaries? And at some point you stumble on the broad economic theories of Keynes and the Austrians. Perhaps you spend some time comparing these philosophies and learn the merits of “hard money.” This opens the door to further critical thinking around human time preference and whether or not the State should have a monopoly on money creation itself.
These explorations are respectively edifying as they lead you down a guided path of monetary history and spark intrigue into the groundbreaking insights humanity is making in computer science. Yet the journey is only just beginning and at some point you finally acquire some Bitcoin and experience the empowerment of self-custody. You now wield the most ultralight high property humanity has ever conceived. You realize the world is indeed your oyster and are daily edified in uncovering its pearls. Over time you experience a lessening of time preference and learn the virtues of patience and other timeless character traits. You begin finding like-minded friends all over the world who are somewhere along the same journey as yourself. You’re discovering authors and books you would never have stumbled upon. You’re finding thought provoking documentaries and interviews that have a way of making you rethink everything you thought you knew. And all the while, your mind is opened to this global phenomenon impacting everyone, everywhere.
In conclusion, edification is a complex and ongoing process of self-improvement and enlightenment that encompasses not just the acquisition of knowledge but also the development of critical thinking, emotional intelligence, and ethical values. Bitcoin has shown us that it is not just a tool, but also a teacher. Through its introduction, we have been led down a path of exploration and discovery, learning about the nature of money, the history of economics, and the potential of computer science. We have acquired knowledge and developed critical thinking skills, experienced empowerment through self-custody, and encountered new perspectives on life that have expanded our understanding of the world. In its own unique way, Bitcoin has demonstrated the power of edification and continues to challenge and inspire us to grow and improve.
This is Jonathan David Kellogg – Writing for
That Bitcoin Blog.
These are The Bitcoin Essays.
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