“Don’t believe everything you see, Sophie.”



Jens Oliver Meiert
From Friesland, Germany
1,5 years in Hamburg
Philosopher & developer

Why shouldn’t Sophie believe everything she sees?

Sophie, the protagonist of Jostein Gaarder’s Sophie’s World, should not believe in everything she sees because singular, unreflected perception does not lend itself to understanding and insight. I love the quote because it’s very light and simple, and yet has much depth. The friendly advice Sophie gets is good advice to all of us, and what seems simplistic about it at first really is just humbleness. Religion and science are only learning what in philosophy, we’ve probably suspected very early: There are very few definite answers to our realities. Realities are plural indeed.

How did you become both a developer and a philosopher? The two seem so different!

In a way I became a developer by chance. After having been rejected by the Bundeswehr, I followed a few buddies to learn more about computer science, and then worked for a web agency. I simply stayed on track, but used my interests to build my experience and my career. I became a philosopher (for which I don’t deem a degree a requirement) by identifying and then surrendering to a longing for answers, for it got more and more apparent to me that the stories we tell each other, of what was life and reality, are deeply flawed. We find many people these days who contend that religion has few answers to offer; what we miss is that science is just as limited, and has none of the important answers for us, either. Philosophy, but really the underlying “love of wisdom,” is now what I love to study our realities, and I’ve developed much appreciation for the fact that philosophers don’t run around telling people how the world works. Although they may actually have some ideas that could help manage it more kindly.

You’re originally from Friesland, up north. Is there a different “philosophy” there, compared to Hamburg?

The biggest two differences both have their charm. I find people in Friesland, likewise the people around Hamburg, to be more patient and relaxed. When it comes to football, for example, this seem to work well (I’m a Werderaner). Yet the attitude of Hamburg — the greatest city in the world! 😉 — is likewise charming (though often misunderstood). Both, in my eyes, witness particular confidence, the confidence of the Frisian as well as the Hamburg people.

Your favourite brain food in Hamburg?

Coffee at Elbgold. But Hamburg is blessed with nice coffee places, like Public Coffee RoastersMilch and Nord Coast Coffee. Tip by Jens

Best place in Hamburg to think?

Anywhere near the water, of course 🙂 Tip by Jens

More city tips here!

Follow Jens and his philosophical insights on Twitter @j9t or on his website : www.meiert.com/en

Photo credits: Merci Niebres

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