Skip to content

Ask Two Geniuses: Conversation with Christian Sorensen and Erik Haereid on Foundations of Philosophical Concepts (Part One)


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2020/07/01


Rick Rosner and I conduct a conversational series entitled Ask A Genius on a variety of subjects through In-Sight Publishing on the personal and professional website for Rick. This series with Erik and Christian build in this idea. Erik Haereid earned a score at 185, on the N-VRA80. He is an expert in Actuarial Sciences. Christian Sorensen earned a score at 185+, i.e., at least 186, on the WAIS. He is an expert in philosophy. Both scores on a standard deviation of 15. A sigma of ~5.67 for Erik – a general intelligence rarity of 1 in 136,975,305 – and a sigma of ~5.67+ for Christian – a general intelligence rarity of more than 1 in 136,975,305. Neither splitting hairs nor a competition here; we agreed to a discussion, hopefully, for the edification of the audience here. If a higher general intelligence score, then the greater the variability in, and margin of error in, the general intelligence scores because of the greater rarity in the population. This amounts to a joint interview or conversation with Christian Sorensen, Erik Haereid, and myself.

Keywords: Christian Sorensen, Erik Haereid, philosophy.

Ask Two Geniuses: Conversation with Christian Sorensen and Erik Haereid on Foundations of Philosophical Concepts (Part One)[1],[2]*

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: I want to set a groundwork on paradoxes, the impossible, the possible, the actual and the potential, the contradictory and the non-contradictory, mysteries versus problems, the paraconsistent versus the consistent versus the inconsistent, the complete versus the incomplete, the reductionistic versus the emergentistic, the deterministic versus the indeterministic, the statistical versus the non-probabilistic, ideal versus image, so on. Maybe, we can proceed in this ordering. Unless, either has a preference in a direction based on the suggestions here. Some more straightforward questions here: What defines a paradox?

Christian Sorensen: It could be said, that a paradox is equivalent to saying, that it is to enter with the one that is of them, for going out with the one that is of us. It is an expression that strictly speaking, is contrary to logic, but nevertheless its deep meaning and the effect it causes are logical.

Erik Haereid: It’s a part of our perception that cannot be explained. It’s a logically self-contradiction. It hides information we need to understand. It’s a mental spark; an invitation to critical thinking and mental evolvement.

Jacobsen: What defines the impossible?

Sorensen: The possibility that what could make a certain thingbe what it would be, actually is something that doesn’t exists.

Haereid: The impossible is what is absolutely impossible. It’s the ultimate impossibility, beyond paradoxes, difficulties, what we don’t understand and beyond any obstacle that seems impossible to overcome; it’s not what we think and feel is impossible, but what really is impossible. Practically, the impossible, for humans, is where we think it is so; when we can’t see any way out or solution to it. When we give up.

It’s a theoretical quantity; we don’t know if anything is impossible. You can say that it’s impossible that I am in both Canada and Norway at the same moment, just now, physically. But we don’t know that for sure. We feel sure, we experience it as certain, but that’s perceptions and how we see things.

Jacobsen: What defines the possible?

Sorensen: The presence of both necessary and sufficient reasons, and the presence of sufficient reason alone.

Haereid: We can’t know if not everything is possible. Everything could theoretically be possible. We are sure that not everything is possible, but that’s not a proof.

It’s pragmatic claiming something to be impossible and possible. Then the impossible is defined as what we think and experience as impossible, and the possible what we experience as possible. Possibility has therefore to do with what we can experience, imagine and predict at a given moment. I think the Sumerians six thousand years ago thought it was impossible that human could travel into Space, to other celestial bodies. But we are sure about that they couldn’t travel into Space at that time. Strictly that is also a perception, our human experience. So, defining the possible and impossible practically, we have to limit it to what we humans experience and percept. 

Jacobsen: What defines the actual and the potential?

Sorensen: The presence or not of existence.

Haereid: The actual is what we percept as real, our experiences, either via our senses as sensed or thoughts as thought. Reality is perceived phenomena. A thought about a house and garden is real as a subjective thought, an image. If you see a house and a garden, you percept it as an experience; sense perceptions are real for you. If you hallucinate, you don’t know until another person put you into doubt by telling you that your view or perception is wrong; there are no house nor garden there in front of you. If many people agree disagreeing in your perception, then you agree that you hallucinate. But no one can say if you or the others are hallucinating. It’s impossible to tell. Therefore, objectivity is an agreement, compromises, manipulation, brainwashing, a unifying of several subjective experiences of actuality. You can’t even say that we can trust that our logical system is right or represents the truth, reality. We rely on that, but we have to doubt what we trust in; not to confuse us but to develop towards what is an increasing and better truth, as on a Hegelian dialectic path.

The potential is what can happen, more or less probable and possible. Every event in the Universe has been a potential, a former state in an ongoing development. Everything that humans think can happen, is a potential.

Jacobsen: What defines the contradictory and the non-contradictory?

Sorensen: The copulative and disjunctive union between being and not being.

Haereid: The contradictory is everything else from whatever; opposites. If X, then “Everything else than X” is the contradictory. The thesis’ antithesis. A conflict. Friction. Change. Development. Evolution. As long as there are contradictions, there are something perceivable. When there are no more contradictions, we have reached the end of everything.

One could say that black is the contradiction to white, but also that red, blue, yellow etc. is contradictions to white, because all those colors are in the contradiction set “not-white”.

In logic: If the proposition “The Earth is flat” is false, then the proposition is a contradiction. The knowledge that the Earth is spherical, is based on that contradiction; conflict, evolution, development, change.

Jacobsen: What defines mysteries versus problems?

Sorensen: The fact that problems, certainly admit the possibility of an answer, while mysteries do not.

Haereid: Mysteries make us curious, while problems make us anxious. Mysteries are unknown situations not necessary to solve. Problems are serious, crucial; necessary to solve to fulfill our needs.

Problems are unwanted or at least problematic, mysteries are welcome. We create mysteries as exercise for solving problems.

Jacobsen: What defines the paraconsistent versus the consistent versus the inconsistent?

Sorensen: Respectively the tolerance to inconsistency, the property through which it is not possible to deduce a contradiction, and the fallacy by means of which an argument seems valid when it is not.

Haereid: Exoteric spoken: The consistent can exist as true at the same time and place. It’s different entities X and Y that both are true; not contradictory. In harmony. Logical. The inconsistent lack consistency; it’s either contradictory or it’s some irrational or wrong issues in it. The paraconsistent has to do with tolerance and acceptance for inconsistency.

Jacobsen: What defines the complete versus the incomplete?

Sorensen: The one and the absence or presence of the lack.

Haereid: The complete is the theoretical end, perfection, absolute knowledge, where all questions are answered and every little hidden unrevealed truth is revealed; when it’s nothing left to answer. The End. It’s the end of every task. It’s also finishing a work, a meal, or any other closure.

The incomplete is where we always have been and always will be; in the realm of wondering, frustration, curiosity, estimations…it’s the daily stress. It’s as mental as completeness. It’s a feeling, an experience of never doing enough, never entering the finish line. It’s being at work, planning, running, living without resting.

Jacobsen: What defines the reductionistic versus the emergentistic?

Sorensen: Metaphor and synergy.

Haereid: By the reductionistic we mean that every entity can be explained by its components. Even though water is something else than hydrogen and oxygen, it can be explained by those two components. A reductionistic question is if thoughts could be explained by physical components in the brain.

By the emergentistic we mean that even though the entity is composed by something, it transforms into something else than the sum of its components. It evolves beyond the product or sum of each part it consists of.

Jacobsen: What defines the deterministic versus the indeterministic?

Sorensen: Destiny and chance.

Haereid: Does the Universe evolve after some stringent rule, or by chance? We talk about deterministic if we don’t have any power to influence ourselves or the environment; we don’t have a free will, no responsibility; whatever we do or happens around us is predetermined, following some rules. Everything has a cause.

Something is indeterministic if it’s unpredictable; we can change the environment, our actions have meanings and we are responsible. If our actions don’t have a cause, we are both free and responsible. If everything has a cause, we are confined in a life where freedom is an illusion; even though we feel that what we do are results from a free will, it’s not.

Jacobsen: What defines the statistical versus the non-probabilistic?

Sorensen: The fact whether the difference is due to chance or not.

Haereid: It’s about degrees of probability for events to happen. If something is unlikely or mathematical impossible to happen, the probability is zero and we have a non-probabilistic situation. If there is some probability for anything to occur, we can measure it mathematically in one way or the other. Then we could call it statistical. I guess this is it.

Jacobsen: What defines ideal versus image?

Sorensen: Immateriality through timelessness, and materiality by means of temporality.

Haereid: Image is a representation of something, an attempt to copy or describe something else, that is not present. A picture. A projection. What is present could be sense perceptions; sensations. An image could also be a projection, e.g. a text or a painting, of e.g. a mental image.  

Ideal is a perfect goal. Something we aim for. A benchmark. It differs from image in that it’s not real in any way, just a plan or a wish, while image is real in the sense of a representation, a mask or picture or text or painting.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Christian is a Philosopher that comes from Belgium. What identifies him the most and above all is simplicity, for everything is better with “vanilla flavour.” Perhaps, for this reason, his intellectual passion is criticism and irony, in the sense of trying to reveal what “hides behind the mask,” and give birth to the true. For him, ignorance and knowledge never “cross paths.” What he likes the most in his leisure time, is to go for a walk with his wife.

Erik Haereid has been a member of Mensa since 2013, and is among the top scorers on several of the most credible IQ-tests in the unstandardized HRT-environment. He is listed in the World Genius Directory. He is also a member of several other high IQ Societies.

Erik, born in 1963, grew up in OsloNorway, in a middle class home at Grefsen nearby the forest, and started early running and cross country skiing. After finishing schools he studied mathematics, statistics and actuarial science at the University of Oslo. One of his first glimpses of math-skills appeared after he got a perfect score as the only student on a five hour math exam in high school.

He did his military duty in His Majesty The King’s Guard (Drilltroppen)).

Impatient as he is, he couldn’t sit still and only studying, so among many things he worked as a freelance journalist in a small news agency.  In that period, he did some environmental volunteerism with Norges Naturvernforbund (Norwegian Society for the Conservation of Nature), where he was an activist, freelance journalist and arranged ‘Sykkeldagen i Oslo’ twice (1989 and 1990) as well as environmental issues lectures. He also wrote some crime short stories in A-Magasinet (Aftenposten (one of the main newspapers in Norway), the same paper where he earned his runner up (second place) in a nationwide writing contest in 1985. He also wrote several articles in different newspapers, magazines and so on in the 1980s and early 1990s.

He earned an M.Sc. degree in Statistics and Actuarial Sciences in 1991, and worked as an actuary novice/actuary from 1987 to 1995 in several Norwegian Insurance companies. He was the Academic Director (1998-2000) of insurance at the BI Norwegian Business School (1998-2000), Manager (1997-1998) of business insurance, life insurance, and pensions and formerly Actuary (1996-1997) at Nordea in Oslo Area, Norway, a self-employed Actuary Consultant (1996-1997), an Insurance Broker (1995-1996) at Assurance Centeret, Actuary (1991-1995) at Alfa Livsforsikring, novice Actuary (1987-1990) at UNI Forsikring.

In 1989 he worked in a project in Dallas with a Texas computer company for a month incorporating a Norwegian pension product into a data system. Erik is specialized in life insurance and pensions, both private and business insurances. From 1991 to 1995 he was a main part of developing new life insurance saving products adapted to bank business (Sparebanken NOR), and he developed the mathematics behind the premiums and premium reserves.

He has industry experience in accounting, insurance, and insurance as a broker. He writes in his IQ-blog the online newspaper Nettavisen. He has personal interests among other things in history, philosophy and social psychology.

In 1995, he moved to Aalborg in Denmark because of a Danish girl he met. He worked as an insurance broker for one year, and took advantage of this experience later when he developed his own consultant company.

In Aalborg, he taught himself some programming (Visual Basic), and developed an insurance calculation software program which he sold to a Norwegian Insurance Company. After moving to Oslo with his girlfriend, he was hired as consultant by the same company to a project that lasted one year.

After this, he became the Manager of business insurance in the insurance company Norske Liv. At that time he had developed and nurtured his idea of establishing an actuarial consulting company, and he did this after some years on a full-time basis with his actuarial colleague. In the beginning, the company was small. He had to gain money, and worked for almost two years as an Academic Director of insurance at the BI Norwegian Business School.

Then the consultant company started to grow, and he quitted BI and used his full time in NIA (Nordic Insurance Administration). This was in 1998/99, and he has been there since.

NIA provides actuarial consulting services within the pension and life insurance area, especially towards the business market. They was one of the leading actuarial consulting companies in Norway through many years when Defined Benefit Pension Plans were on its peak and companies needed evaluations and calculations concerning their pension schemes and accountings. With the less complex, and cheaper, Defined Contribution Pension Plans entering Norway the last 10-15 years, the need of actuaries is less concerning business pension schemes.

Erik’s book from 2011, Benektelse og Verdighet, contains some thoughts about our superficial, often discriminating societies, where the virtue seems to be egocentrism without thoughts about the whole. Empathy is lacking, and existential division into “us” and “them” is a mental challenge with major consequences. One of the obstacles is when people with power – mind, scientific, money, political, popularity – defend this kind of mind as “necessary” and “survival of the fittest” without understanding that such thoughts make the democracies much more volatile and threatened. When people do not understand the genesis of extreme violence like school killings, suicide or sociopathy, asking “how can this happen?” repeatedly, one can wonder how smart man really is. The responsibility is not limited to let’s say the parents. The responsibility is everyone’s. The day we can survive, mentally, being honest about our lives and existence, we will take huge leaps into the future of mankind.

[2] Individual Publication Date: July 1, 2020:; Full Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2020:


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: