hens and eggs – oh, well. who cares what (or who) comes first, as long as both arrive where they want to be in due course. much more interesting questions are raised by peeling boiled eggs. attempting to peel boiled eggs can get you into three situations. either the thin layer of skin that separates egg white from shell doesn’t come off, or it miraculously comes off and leaves you with a shiny white perfect oval, or much more comes off than had been intended. astonishingly enough, in the latter case one commonly ends up not with a structure of egg white that looks like a quarry, but with yet another, if smaller, perfect oval. it’s as if the egg white formed layers beneath the shell. eggs’ evolutionary statement – the move towards the onion – or observer-induced illusion?
naive epistemic realism foisters on us the primitive assumption that whatever action human beings carry out operates on something that is already there and exists independently of human intervention and cognition. while this assumption may be appropriate in a lot of action contexts – like putting on socks, where both socks and feet arguably exist independent of the human mind and the action of, well, joining them despite their apparent mutual aversion -, it obviously fails in others, and the egg white case might be just one of those. it may be that egg white forms layers in boiled eggs, like onions form layers, but it might also be that what seems to be a layer is a product of the peculiar movements of human fingers peeling. aas this issue cannot be resolved through observation, for the interior of a boiled egg is after all imperceptible before the egg is actually peeled, the only way out is to devise experiments, in thought or otherwise. we might involve that pet construct of philosophers, twin earth (German “Zwerde” – one of my favourite words). If boiled eggs peel as small ovals on earth, would they also do so on twin earth? Or, turning towards action, we might get cats to peel eggs and see how they turn out – small ovals or cubes? do eggs peeled by cats come to take on the form of mice?