Epistemology

June 26, 2009

Imaginary Time,

11 Dimensional Space, etc.

Of fictive Knowledge & fictious Reality


Abstract


Science, according to Ernst Cassirer, “is the last step in man’s mental development and may be regarded as the highest and the most characteristic attainment of human culture …” In modern world there is no other power equals to scientific thinking. Science is held to be “the summit and consummation of all our human activities, the last chapter in the history of mankind and the most important subject of a philosophy of man.”

This essay, to some extent, is about the state of the art of scientific knowledge, especially natural sciences, at the cross of the 2nd and the 3rd millennium. It is also a reflection on the nature of science and the nature of natural cosmos whose temptation will make science more than just the summit and consummation of all our human activities and the most important subject of a philosophy of man; scientific knowledge will be the most important subject of philosophy of universe, if one does exist. Through the dialectic between fictive knowledge and fictious reality, science will force humanity eventually to create, or at least to replicate, a physical universe.

I deliberately choose an old and almost forgotten word “fictious” to be juxtaposed with “fictive” not merely for literary reason (syllable and alliteration) but mainly for epistemological one: to persistently remember something easily sink into oblivion that scientific knowledge, from a certain point of view, is essentially a kind of fiction, a poem to be more precise, a mighty one lives its life in the grandest poem imaginable, the Great Universe.


****


The scientific theorist is not to be envied. For Nature, or more precisely experiment, is an exorable and not very friendly judge of his work. It never says “Yes” to a theory. In the most favorable cases it says “Maybe,” and in the great majority of cases simply “No.””


— Entry into memory book for Professor Kammerling-Onnes, November 11, 1922; quoted in Dukas and Hoffmann, Albert Einstein, the Human Side, p.18.


An incomprehensible nature is an unbearable and therefore an inhabitable nature. Older than any era long lost from human memory, this law has been governing the evolution down to the sustainability of living beings in their interactions with the harsh and ever randomly changing nature. The first contemplating human, must had understood that even in its most tranquil state, the magnificent nature spread itself out in immensely complex phenomenon. The first information to human experience must have been really complex, even largely chaotic.

blakenewton

This immense complexity  torches in the human mind a flaming longing for a simple – sometimes confused with an oversimplifying – explanation. But, it is in reality more than just a longing. It is an instinct, or a bit more fundamental, for the roots can be traced back to the dialectics between matter-energy reservation and the intrinsic drive to evolve up to a certain level of complexity, functionally and structurally: a sophistication of differential combination and integration at the dimensions of scale, spatial and temporal. Thereon operates a cognitive mechanism, an a-priory and formal tendency to spontaneously regulate and shape all concrete images entering consciousness into a conformed pattern, paving the path for human to place and coordinate himself in the midst of world’s data universe. Also thereon human develop a universal regulating principle, a worldview as well as cosmological frame of reference, without which human being will be more than just deeply drowned into, using William James’ phrase, the blooming buzzing confusion of experiences.

(to be continued)

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