Ever heard of a thought palace? It is a memory technique. Do do it, you would think of a familiar place, and then populate it with outlandish things that are reminders of what you were really to remember. It is a fantasy land, riding on our super good ability to remember places. And I believe in this technique.
I still remember pretty exactly how many places look in books. The words are gone forever; but in the scene in "Hills like white elephants", by Hemingway, I still remember that the train station entrance had bead curtains, and that, at the foot of the table was a suitcase filled with stickers. That is now... 11 years since I read that story.
And, some of the most famous philosophical pieces of writing are thought experiments, even elaborate ones, and often set in rooms, where there are plenty of variables to change. Think of the "chinese room", by Searle, the "ontology room", or the fictitious room where a poor girl grows up without ever seeing the colour red.
And somehow, the same goes for characters; which, while not as numerous, figure prominently in some examples; like Munchausen pulling himself out of the river by his own hair, or even the interlocutors of Plato; stock characters representing some crucial positions.
Places and people seem to stick with us, like words cannot do. And we seem to be better at thinking when we are thinking about them, than when we don't. So, what I want to do, is to introduce some general philosophical characters, some stock characters that are vivid enough, and that can take on different positions; argue against one another.
Just, let me blow a little life into them.
Image; yes, hear the magic word; Image - a cathedral like structure, pillars stretching 30 meters high, rising straight out of a floor made from raked sand. The walls are a square 100x100 meters, and light is streaming in from fissures in the wall all around. A suitable place to think.
In the middle of the room, there is a young man, all clad in black, and he is holding a long black cane, which he uses to draw in the sand with. His name is Ecks. And now, walking in from the side is a woman, all dressed in red. Her name, is Oai. Then, for good measure, a spunky young girl comes in, all dressed in white slacks, and looking outrageously confident. She is Zed.
Oai: "Welcome to our mind palace."
Ecks and Zed nods, make a pile for themselves and sit.
Oai: "Into this palace we can bring in any object we wish, inhabit any perspective we wish, and bring in any example we wish. When writing down our conversations feel free to use the short versions of our names; X, Y and Z, we won't be offended, because we are self conscious as conditions..."
Ecks: "Which Doesn't mean we aren't real!"
Zed popped a poignant bubblegum- bubble, possibly meaning this was a discussion for a later time.
Oai walked a little ways from the other.
Oai: "Let me introduce the first object in our reportoire."
And out from the sand, she pulled, an arrow.
Oai: "This is the conditional relation; if we are talking about entropy it is the arrow of time, or it can be cupid's arrow, or a part of one of Zeno's paradoxes. Feel free to use it as you want."
Ecks came over and picked it out of her hands, put it in the sand, then picked it up again, and simply, hung it in the air.
Ecks: "It can stay there, I'll remember it."
Now we kind of have a place to think, and to argue, though it would probably be better if they changed location every time. It would be more memorable. Before each discussion, we could define which positions they were to defend. I think there would be some didactic sense in this.
We should also not be afraid to interrupt them with a prose part, or get them in there for only a few short lines. Characters, dialogue and places engage the imagination in an entirelly different way from the kind of language that you are now reading; and I think we should use this to our determination.