Anthony "Tony" Magestro--or known on the field of battle as Metzge--is an avid writer, gamer, and entrepreneur. When he's not writing, gaming, or entrepreneuring, he enjoys cooking, trippy movies, and trying to be awesome to varying degrees of success. Feel free to check out his LinkedIn page, especially if you need freelance help with content writing or digital marketing. Or just like to network, that's fine too.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed by now, I really enjoy reflecting on words and literature. Reading and critical thinking seem to be in short supply nowadays which I find a bit sad; so much more about life can be lived and enjoyed if we stopped to ask questions about ourselves and our reality. Though I understand how such existential thinking can scare people.
Even then, knowing my love for philosophy, my little brother gifted me a copy of The Talos Principle for Christmas two years ago. While the game tackles some of that existential angst (albeit through the eyes of a robotic protagonist), I still find such questions and musings almost comforting, despite all the gray areas of the vast unknown beyond our own understanding: life, death, and our reason (if any) for existence at all. For those who love Greek mythology and pondering morality, the idea of free will, and what it means to be human (whether organic or mechanic), if you haven’t picked up this game, you need to rectify that right quick.
Without spoiling too much of this adventure/puzzle game, here are a few of our choice Talos Principle quotes derived from the terminals and QR codes of those who came before you that you stumble upon. Since some of these are admittedly length (this game is all about philosophy and metaphysics after all), I’ve highlighted some especially interesting bits for ease of reading. That said, we’ll start with the definition of the Talos principle itself:
10. “Whether it is true that Daedalus constructed the giant Talos, or as others say he was the creation of Hephaestus, what we may be certain of is that he was made of bronze, and had but one vein, within which flowed a liquid substance like blood, which some claim was quicksilver, and others assert was ichor such as flows in the veins of the gods. The loss of that liquid caused him to die, as a man dies when he loses his blood.
“May we not then say that Talos, though created as a machine or a toy, had all the essential properties of a man? He moved of his own volition. He spoke and could be spoken to, had wishes and desires. Indeed in the tale of the Argonauts, that was the cause of his downfall. If, then, a machine may have all the properties of a man, and act as a man while driven only by the ingenious plan of its construction and the interaction of its materials according to the principles of nature, then does it not follow that man may also be seen as a machine? This contradicts all the schools of metaphysics, yet even the most faithful philosopher cannot live without his blood.” – Straton of Stageira (Archive) [NOTE: While Straton of Stageira is fictitious, he might have been based on either Strato of Lampsacus or Straton of Sardis, though I’d put my money on it being the former.]
9. “We keep discussing what an artificial intelligence would mean to us and how it would change our understanding of the world. That’s a great topic and I think we’ve covered it extensively. What we’ve barely mentioned, though, is the other side of the coin. I mean, our lives would still be what they were before, A.I. or no A.I. The question I think we should discuss, even if it’s all completely hypothetical, is the perspective of the artificial intelligence itself. What would it be like to be that creature? To suddenly come into being, created by others as an experiment? To have all the information about yourself, to know exactly how you function? What would you think about the world? Would you see meaning? Beauty? How would you judge humanity? Where would you see yourself fitting into the grand scheme of things? I think we should try to put ourselves into the shoes of such a being.” – Alexandra Drennan (Archive)
8. “I find myself in a world of impossible architecture and inexplicable machines. I cannot fathom how it works, and I am terrified to put one foot in front of the other lest I fall through the floor.” – 1w/Faith v10.1.0000 (QR Code)
7. “The way I see it, the world doesn’t come with a manual. You gotta figure it out for yourself. A bit here, a bit there, put it together, try to make sense of it. I’m pretty sure there is a truth, but that doesn’t mean everyone who claims to know it really does. Then again, that doesn’t have to be a bad thing! We live in an amazing world and searching for the truth can be a real adventure. Plus it’s good for the brain.” – Li (Archive)
6. “You may already be criticizing your own performance, but it’s clear you understand how the world of ideas affects you, even if you are sometimes weary with the realities and allow your preferences to dictate your beliefs. You have a great deal of unused capacity which you have not turned to your advantage. Disciplined and self-controlled outside, you tend to be worrisome and insecure inside, but you pride yourself as an independent thinker and do not accept others’ statements without satisfactory proof.” – Psychological profile after being administered a test to be granted higher admin privileges (may be different depending on how the player answers?)
5. “It is the grave error of many philosophers, not only of the Athenian schools but also of many others, that they begin not with observation of the cosmos as it surrounds us, but with a conclusion already in mind; and often that conclusion is that the world was created ideal, and mankind itself the greatest creation of the gods. Yet neither the world nor the gods owe mankind perfection; it is arrogance itself to presume so, and contrary to all the methods of philosophy. The honest philosopher seeks only the Truth, even if it bears no comfort; and he must begin by assuming, as Socrates said, that all he knows is that he knows nothing.” – Straton of Stegeira, On Beginnings (Archive)
4. “I do not understand why the Designer chose to put such flaws into the world, that it appears almost as if it were damaged. But I must believe that there is a purpose here I cannot see.” – 1w/Faith v10.3.0047f (QR Code)
3. “Shall the industrious husbandman, then, plant trees the fruit of which he shall never see? And shall not the great man found laws, institutions, and a republic? What does the procreation of children imply, and our care to continue our names, and our adoptions, and our scrupulous exactness in drawing up wills, and the inscriptions of monuments, and panegyrics, but that our thoughts run on futurity? What do you imagine that so many and such great men of our republic, who have sacrificed their lives for its good, expected? Do you believe that they thought their names should not continue beyond their lives? None ever encountered death for their country but under a firm persuasion of immortality! Themistocles might have lived at his ease; so might Epaminondas; and, not to look abroad and among the ancients for instances, so might I myself. But, somehow or other there clings to our minds a certain presage of future ages; and this both exists most firmly, and appears most clearly, in men of the loftiest genius and greatest souls. Take away this, and who would be so mad as to spend his life amidst toils and dangers?” – Tusculan_Disputations (Archive)
2. “Surely if a machine is able to reproduce another machine systematically, we may say that it has a reproductive system. And how few of the machines are there which have not been produced systematically by other machines? But it is man that makes them do so. Yes; but it is not insects that make many of the planets reproductive, and would not whole families of plants die out if their fertilization was not effected by a class of agents utterly foreign to themselves? Each one of ourselves has sprung from minute animalcules whose entity was entirely distinct from our own, and which acted after their kind with no thought or heed of what we might think about it. These little creatures are part of our own reproductive system; then why not we part of that of the machines?” – Untitled Entry (Archive)
1. “They say ‘doubt everything,’ but I disagree. Doubt is useful in small amounts, but too much of it leads to apathy and confusion. No, don’t doubt everything. QUESTION everything. That’s the real trick. Doubt is just a lack of certainty. If you doubt everything, you’ll doubt evolution, science, faith, morality, even reality itself — and you’ll end up with nothing, because doubt doesn’t give anything back. But questions have answers, you see. If you question everything, you’ll find that a lot of what we believe is untrue… but you might also discover some things ARE true. You might discover what your own beliefs are. And then you’ll question them again, and again, eliminating flaws, discovering lies, until you get as close to the truth as you can.
“Questioning is a lifelong process. That’s precisely what makes it so unlike doubt. Questioning engages with reality, interrogating all it sees. Questioning leads to a constant assault on intellectual status quo, where doubt is far more likely to lead to resigned acceptance. After all, when the possibility of truth is doubtful (excuse the pun), why not simply play along with the most convenient lie?
“Questioning is progress, but doubt is stagnation.” – Untitled Entry (Archive)
What are some of your favorite quotes?