Question of the Day May 6, 2012 – Magic

What is/are your thought(s)/feeling(s)/opinions on Magic?

To me, there is one sense in which magic doesn’t exist, and another sense in which it is everywhere.

There is a quote from Arthur C Clarke that is almost 50 years old – “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”.

To me, the many levels of systems that have evolved in life through the process of evolution by natural selection operating over the last 4 billion years, is little short of magic.
Those of us sufficiently trained in the disciplines of the life and systems sciences can see many of the general principles involved in living systems, and the reality of the complexity is (and always will be) beyond the predictive comprehension of any mind – we are simply too complex.

So in this sense, the advanced technology that is life, is, in many respects, indistinguishable from magic (which is not to say that it is magic, just to say that for most of us, our minds are not sufficiently trained to make the distinction).

There is another sense, in which our awareness is so slow, that it is only consciously capable of dealing with a very tiny fraction of the information reaching the brain. Thus there is always much more happening around us than we are aware of, and stuff that is outside of our awareness may suddenly enter our awareness, and appear, as if by magic.

So it seems to me that reality is complex and beautiful beyond our ability to completely comprehend in the moment, and has all the appearances of magic in many ways, and yet, is not magic in the sense of being beyond understanding.

It seems that reality is an open infinite set of evolving technologies, some of which will always be different to those that most are used to thinking about.

Plenty of room there for things to appear magical for ever more, however evolved our understanding becomes.

[followed by]

Hi Andrew

As someone who has chosen to know as much as possible about as many things as possible, I don’t find that it takes anything from the experience of the moments you describe, quite the contrary, I find that it adds whole new levels of appreciation.

[followed by]

Hi Andrew,

The more I learn, the less certainty I have about most things, and the more I know that I don’t know.
I long ago gave up the idea that I could know anything about reality with absolute certainty.

I see magic in the sunrise, magic in the rainbows, in the waves, in the trees, in the birdsong, in the computer, in the people around me, in the weather, in plate tectonics, in stars, meteors, auroras, in mathematics….

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) with reasonable security, tools, resources and degrees of freedom, and reasonable examples of the natural environment; and that is going to demand responsibility from all of us - see
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Comment and critique welcome

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

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

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s