Monday, September 06, 2010

Epistemic Humility


The Taleb paradox:  He may be abrasive and arrogant, but he knows a thing or two about Epstemic Humility. See here

A couple of Web posts of interest:

1. Human Cognitive Limits
I was interested in this Times Online article by Astronomer Royal Sir Martin Rees which is entitled We may never discover how the universe ticks. In the article Rees writes:
But we should be open to the prospect that some aspects of reality — a unified theory of physics, or a full understanding of consciousness — might elude us simply because they’re beyond human brains, just as Einstein’s ideas would baffle a chimpanzee

2. The logical limits of a purely descriptive paradigm
This post on Uncommon Descent refers to Mathematician Oxford John Lennox' rebuttal of some of Stephen Hawkin’s recent claims. Lennox is quoted as saying:
But contrary to what Hawking claims, physical laws can never provide a complete explanation of the universe. Laws themselves do not create anything, they are merely a description of what happens under certain conditions.
….which is very much in line with the comments in my last post about the descriptive role of physics; physics can only go as far as a maximally “compressed” descriptive narrative of the Cosmos and therefore provides no ultimate logical necessity. Since the “data compression” operation of physical description aims to reduce content down to the “simple as possible”, that content will not contain its own explanation; it is simply too simple for that. As far as the search for Aseity is concerned physics, with its program of progressive reduction to the elemental, is likely to be proceeding in exactly opposite direction; for there is only one other place to look for self-explanation, and that is in the a-priori complex, probably the infinitely a-priori complex. Therefore, understanding the concept of Aseity may elude us for the same reason Rees has given us: Viz: simply because it is beyond human brains, just as Einstein’s ideas would baffle a chimpanzee.

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