This is a cultural observation with, if not philosophical implications, then at least a philosophical flavor. In this country, people generally heat their houses with either wood or scrub brush. This is extremely frustrating for foreigners, because it produces a sudden burst of heat, and then you’re cold again in 20 minutes. We prefer something like coal, sawdust, propane, or diesel to produce a steady heat.

When I worked in a government office, I was (quietly) driven nuts by my one colleague who always burnt the entire day’s wood when he arrived in the morning. We were freezing after lunch. But that is classic: the goal is an initial burst of heat, which somehow lasts the day. I visited an NGO office in which the nationals didn’t bother to light the diesel heater, so little did they think of it.

So here’s the philosophical angle: their near-universal heating solution entails their preference for heating. Their fuel burns hot and expires quickly, and that entails their ideal heating. They help the process along by throwing all the wood in the stove immediately.

If that interpretation is correct, than what is became an ideal. One would expect that someone who had never known anything else would be satisfied with a quick-burning wood fire. One would expect familiarity to breed contentment. A creative (and teleological) element is required for the experience of the burning fire to become the idea, i.e., to make one not just accept that reality but enhance it.