15
   

A limit to understanding ?

 
 
fresco
 
Reply Sun 24 Nov, 2013 04:45 am
Put crudely, the Big Bang model implies that all of what we conceive of as material, energy, and even space-time suddenly appeared in what we measure as about 13 billion years ago. Irrespective of the status of Big Bang as an accepted model, does my emphasis of the words about what appears to us suggest anything more than we should be cautious in accepting any scientific paradigm such as Big Bang as being more than temporally useful in what we call “our understanding”?
 
rosborne979
 
  3  
Reply Sun 24 Nov, 2013 05:25 am
@fresco,
All scientific knowledge is considered temporarily useful, until a better understanding is presented.

As far as "our understanding" goes, everything outside of philosophy is considered within "our understanding", even if it's within the subset of theology which accepts magic as a part of our understanding. If it's part of science, then it's subject to an even more rigorous and limited set of requirements.
farmerman
 
  2  
Reply Sun 24 Nov, 2013 05:56 am
@rosborne979,
when it ascends to "theory status", it assumes that there is a body of evidence that supports that theory and ( importantly) there is no valid evidence that refutes it.

0 Replies
 
Frank Apisa
 
  2  
Reply Sun 24 Nov, 2013 06:35 am
@fresco,
fresco wrote:

Put crudely, the Big Bang model implies that all of what we conceive of as material, energy, and even space-time suddenly appeared in what we measure as about 13 billion years ago. Irrespective of the status of Big Bang as an accepted model, does my emphasis of the words about what appears to us suggest anything more than we should be cautious in accepting any scientific paradigm such as Big Bang as being more than temporally useful in what we call “our understanding”?



The qualification "what we conceive of as" probably applies to almost everything...but there is an obvious paradox contained in it, Fresco.

It presupposes a "we" and of an ability of the "we" to "conceive of."

The entire of existence is such a mystery...that any considerations of it by humans ought immediately be filed in the "damn near blind speculation" folder.

I like the thought underlying your question, but I also see (and shy from) the need to blame language that I see implicit in it. There is a great deal more to why the true nature of the REALITY of existence is not "available" to us than the difficulties with language.
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Nov, 2013 08:07 am
I am suggesting that the quest for a ToE (Theory of Everything) is futile and that all we can expect is continued expansion of our prediction and control practices.

The base assumption of "WE" (i.e.of a communicative community) implies that the role of "language" is crucial for understanding (a) from a cognitive viewpoint, if we take language to be a vehicle for thought and (b) from an ontological point of view if we accept Wittgenstein's comment "the limits of my language are the limits of my world". However, we must take "language" to include the metalanguage of mathematics together with its idiosyncratic forms of "coherence" which can transcend normal understanding.
timur
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Nov, 2013 08:24 am
fresco wrote:
(b) from an ontological point of view if we accept Wittgenstein's comment "the limits of my language are the limits of my world".

Did it ever happened to you to have some thoughts that were so different from your language scope that you could never formalize them?

Like the chicken and the egg, I've never been able to ascertain that the concept predates the word or the other way around..

In addition, do you mean that the world of a polyglot is wider than that of a monolingual?
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Nov, 2013 08:25 am
@fresco,
A taxi driver was once reported as saying--"'ere, I 'ad Bertie Russell in't cab 'tother day so I axed 'im 'wassit all abaat then Bertie?' an' the bugger admitted 'e didn't know."
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Nov, 2013 08:47 am
fresco wrote:

I am suggesting that the quest for a ToE (Theory of Everything) is futile and that all we can expect is continued expansion of our prediction and control practices.


Well, some people do that, Fresco. I've heard people claim, for instance, that it is impossible to know if there is a GOD...when such a claim is almost self-contradictory. IF there is a GOD...the GOD, should IT choose, could easily devise a way to unambiguously reveal ITS existence to humans. So it truly is not impossible.

I suspect that "A theory of everything" is not an impossibility (hence not "futile")...and that it simply is beyond the limits of HUMAN comprehension. That is the reason I take the position with regard to REALITY that I do.

In any case, I truly doubt that the "limits of my language are the limits of my world." Almost certainly there is "world" outside the limits of my language...and in fact, there are speculations about the "world" outside the limits of my language.

I cannot put into language what my mind sometimes grapples with when considering the concept "nothingness" or "infinity"...but that does not mean those things do not exist.

I am willing, however, to acknowledge that “the limits of MY language” prevent me from better expressing what I meant when I wrote: “There is a great deal more to why the true nature of the REALITY of existence is not "available" to us than the difficulties with language.” (I also acknowledge that rather than the second word in that sentence being “is”…I think I should have used, “…appears to be….”)
0 Replies
 
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Nov, 2013 08:55 am
@timur,
Quote:
Did it ever happened to you to have some thoughts that were so different from your language scope that you could never formalize them?

Perhaps...after all, that is why we have the term "ineffable" ...but they may have no functional utility, or practical status.
Quote:
In addition, do you mean that the world of a polyglot is wider than that of a monolingual

Quite possibly !
For example there are two words for "representation" in German: Vorstellung implying "a word represents a thing in the world" and Darstellung implying that " a word evokes a conscious re-presentation or (re-living) of an experience.
Conversely, the absence of past and future tense words in some languages suggests a different "reality" in the mind of the user.
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Nov, 2013 09:00 am
@spendius,
I suspect Bertie was having problems with the word "it". Wink
0 Replies
 
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Nov, 2013 09:17 am
@fresco,
fresco wrote:
Put crudely, the Big Bang model implies that all of what we conceive of as material, energy, and even space-time suddenly appeared in what we measure as about 13 billion years ago. Irrespective of the status of Big Bang as an accepted model, does my emphasis of the words about what appears to us suggest anything more than we should be cautious in accepting any scientific paradigm such as Big Bang as being more than temporally useful in what we call “our understanding”?
Do u propose anything toward understanding, other than caution ?
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Nov, 2013 09:25 am
@OmSigDAVID,
On other threads I have rejected "absolutes" in favor of relativity. Here I am suggesting that "what we know" is directed by "what we think we need to know" and has no independence from assumed "human need". Caution can imply that "curiosity killed the cat".
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Nov, 2013 09:49 am
Fresco wrote:

Quote:
On other threads I have rejected "absolutes" in favor of relativity.


While I agree with Fresco’s initial comment suggesting caution about what we think we know (history seems to indicate much of what “we think we know” is not even correct)…I respectfully suggest his fixation with “relativity” would, if shown to be correct, be an absolute.

There is no getting away from “whatever actually IS…IS.”

I also respectfully suggest that when he said, “ Here I am suggesting that "what we know" is directed by "what we think we need to know" and has no independence from assumed "human need"…he was presenting a gratuitous conclusion rather than one derived from the logic of his (implied) premises.

Fresco supposes HUMAN considerations about REALITY trump any REALITY that may exist outside of HUMAN understanding (or their ability to perceive such non-accessible REALITY) for no good reason other than he wants to do so in order to preserve the integrity of his take on this issue. The authorities he regularly cites seem to proceed in this same way.

I suggest that is an inappropriate way to proceed.

Quote:
Caution can imply that "curiosity killed the cat".


Ummm…”in for a penny; in for a pound!”
0 Replies
 
spendius
 
  2  
Reply Sun 24 Nov, 2013 09:54 am
@fresco,
But is the claim “all truth is relative” a relative truth or an absolute truth? If it is not an absolute truth then all truth is not relative and if it is a relative truth then it is meaningless.
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Nov, 2013 10:27 am
@spendius,
Truth is what works. What works is relative to context.
You can play Russell's paradox games if you like by attempting to transcend the context.

0 Replies
 
dalehileman
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Nov, 2013 11:02 am
@fresco,
Quote:
I am suggesting that the quest for a ToE (Theory of Everything) is futile
Not so sure about that Fres. While the "final answer" might never be accessible, as more is learned we can dance around it with a greater degree of assurance

Quote:
...implies that the role of "language" is crucial...
Indeed the controversial aspects of Her, It, likely will prove a semantic issue
0 Replies
 
dalehileman
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Nov, 2013 11:06 am
@timur,
Quote:
Did it ever happened to you to have some thoughts that were so different from your language scope that you could never formalize them?
Indeed the closest I've been able to approach the ultimate is to suppose that It, She, according to the principle that nothing is entirely anything while everything is partly something else, is the Universe, while all the activity therein constitutes Her thinking
0 Replies
 
dalehileman
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Nov, 2013 11:08 am
@fresco,
Quote:
that is why we have the term "ineffable"
Well put Fres, I like that term, must use it more frequently

Quote:
In addition, do you mean that the world of a polyglot is wider than that of a monolingual

Quote:
Quite possibly !
Most certainly, widens one's horizon
0 Replies
 
rosborne979
 
  2  
Reply Sun 24 Nov, 2013 11:15 am
@fresco,
fresco wrote:

I am suggesting that the quest for a ToE (Theory of Everything) is futile and that all we can expect is continued expansion of our prediction and control practices.

The "ToE" in modern common usage is a scientific endeavor, not a philosophical one. All they will seek to do is find an equation that more accurately models all elements of the natural world (basically they are trying to unify QED and General Relativity). There are undoubtedly deeper/different aspects to nature which we haven't recognized yet, and as soon as a ToE is able to unify the two more glaring shards, then the less glaring shards will haunt us until they too are unified and on and on it will go probably forever (is my guess at least). In a scientifically philosophical sense the "model" can never be perfect or it wouldn't be a model any more, it would become reality, or at least become unrecognizable from reality.
dalehileman
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Nov, 2013 11:27 am
@rosborne979,
Quote:
The "ToE" in modern common usage is a scientific endeavor, not a philosophical one.
What puzzles me Ros beyond any other aspect of evolutionary theory is the common observation that the physical constants as well as the way they relate to one another seem to have been "set up", in some cases within a fraction of one percent, to make life possible
 

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