Foundations of Logic – Question on Understanding
[ 24/August/21 Walter Kant asked
What is man’s capacity to know and understand:
1.limited (man is not able to know and understand everything)
2.extended (man is able to know and understand more than everything)
3.neither limited nor extended, but only finely tuned to what can be known.]
1 – The evidence is beyond reasonable doubt that we are finite computational entities.
That means that we cannot explore any single infinity in any finite time.
We seem to have an infinity of infinities available to explore.
Therefore, by definition, we may not know everything.
It seems to actually be far more complex than that.
It seems very probable that the universe in which we live is actually fundamentally unknowable and unpredictable in many different ways; and only approximates classical causality at our scale of existence, because complexity such as we are can only possibly emerge in contexts where classical causality is approximated to reasonable degrees. Too much randomness is necessarily destructive of complexity.
Evolution punishes slowness much more harshly than slight inaccuracy, hence we all have deeply evolved tendencies to simplify, at multiple levels of perception and computation. We all seem to inhabit our own subconsciously generated Virtual Reality versions of whatever Objective Reality actually is.
Thus we tend to make our simplistic understandings of the reality of our being and our context, usually using the simplest of possible logics (binary – True/False – and its related mathematical constructs); and most seem to think that because it is (necessarily) a reasonably close fit; that the universe does in fact obey necessary causal rules.
That does not need to be the case.
It does seem to me, on balance of probabilities, as an autistic geek who has been investigating this question for over 50 years, to actually be the case that we do live in a universe that is a balance of chaos and order – where the truly random is constrained by probability functions; and does at our level of existence usually very closely approximate classical causality.
It is only in such a universe, where systems are influenced by each other, but not totally constrained, that there can be any real degrees of “freedom”.
It does seem to be the case that we do in fact have some reasonable degrees of freedom.
It does seem to be the case that such freedom comes with responsibilities if it is to survive long term.
This much does seem to be discoverable and understandable if one devotes sufficient time and energy to doing so. (It helps if one has an autistic brain that essentially does math very fast, very accurately – I used to expect 100% in all math tests, and to be first finished – didn’t always happen that way, and mostly it did.)
[followed by – Walter asked:
Do you also see influences of something supernatural (like God?) in your perspective?]
It seems very unlikely. Multi-dimensional evolutionary pressures seem to be quite complex enough to account for all observed phenomena that I have experienced or investigated.
Positing any sort of God doesn’t simplify anything, it just starts one thinking about the sorts of contexts such a God could have evolved in – kind of breaks Ockham’s Razor (recursively).
[followed by If the universe is unknowable and unpredictable, perhaps it would be possible for us to know it correctly after all (as unknowable and unpredictable)?]
One may understand some things about system constraints, without being able to predict how a system behaves exactly in any instant. Many different classes of system are like that. One of the simpler ones is xp[next] = r.xp.(1 – xp) – for values of r between one and 4. It gets interesting after 3. https://tedhowardnz.wordpress.com/2014/07/09/playing-with-chaos/
When people talk about “knowing”, most usually think about absolute certainty. That does not seem to be an option.
What we seem to have is probabilities.
In some contexts they can very closely approximate classical certainty.
[Followed by – Randy replied …”Have you done any research into systems in dynamic equilibrium.”…]
That is kind of a definition of life.
Biology has been an interest of mine as long as I can recall. I was given direct entry into stage 2 biochemistry at 17. The structures and systems of the chemistry of life are fascinating.
And yes, there have to be mechanisms to limit positive feedbacks. Biology is replete with such things, at many different levels.
[Followed by – in response to Randy’s …”in a star if that system was not a dynamic equilibrium pure chance would require some of them to form a positive feedback loop”…]
Yeah – that does sometimes happen.
We do see nova, supernova, pulsars, quasars, and all manner of energetic and dangerous phenomena in the wider universe. No shortage of less energetic but equally dangerous things on this planet.
If there is a lesson to be taken from the cosmological and geological records it is that positive feedbacks do happen periodically, and survival probabilities for individuals can be very low indeed in such events, even survival probabilities for species can get very low.
We have the potential to actively manage most of those classes of risk, but only once we have reached agreement that cooperation between all classes of agents is actually the only survivable long term strategy. Several classes of agents are currently working from such low resolution models of the complexity actually present that they do not recognize the risk (and that in itself is a major cause of risk).
It is difficult to use the term “equilibrium” to describe such systems in any meaningful way.