Philosophy Of The Cosmos - Conceptual Evolution
Well a high level of access to conceptual space seems to be a primary distinguishing feature of humans relative to other species: as to the driving force behind where we go in our theories, history appears to imply that the mapping between concepts in their space and real physical phenomena is evolving to be more precise(insofar as less arbitrary constraints are being used to model domains of physics in contempary language), with the mechanism of this evolution still being people; for the main the harder questions/flaws/anomalies seem to be treated as a case of 'not my problem' (in both senses) for the person working on this conceptual model of the Universe, so we keep nibbling away at the problem small peices at a time excepting the case of the person, or group of people, willing to chase the issue and (as one can see in wider society) risk losing touch with consensus reality for the small chance of actually being right.
Karl Popper as mentioned in the reading seems to have a view in this context that whilst our conceptual understanding of the universe is evolving, ever attaining 'perfection' itself is dubious.
Then again, with objective certainty apparantly non-existant the uncomfortable doubters position may well be all we can ever get.(Tokamak)(… Yes it could be articulated better with more sleep)


Very true I believe but i dont like the idea of us even evolving towards 'perfection' - it suggests that there is a one, flawless solution (to everything). As was discussed last week (Week 2) we as humans like to think that everything needs to be 'neat' which makes it difficult to formulate new scientific theories or change old ones, there is limited 'scientific anarchism.' (Paul Feyerabend, Against Method, Introduction) And who's to say that we are not all wrong, that eg. Newton's Laws dont hold up somewhere and we've based entire theories on a wrong statement. To use a mathematical solution as a metaphor, it takes alot of smaller correct answers to get to the final one. So yes, our theories may be evolving slowly but shouldnt we also question if they are even heading in the right direction?
Adam
i've said something similar to this in a tutorial recently, i don't think it's the theories and how right or wrong or even relevant they are, who thought them up, when they were thought up, or under what circumstances. it is the very act of pushing our brains to go into these areas of deep contemplation that is the point of it all.
some of our minds are at the stage now where they can look at a universe ever larger and hold this vastness long enough to find patterns in it (even though they're not such a great fit so far!) From the reader (Barrow, p.8)"It appears that the human mind has evolved an ability to recognise geometric patterns where none exist. What else might it be recognising that does not really exist?"… a fair bit i'd say! but it's the process of searching for these patterns that matters.
whether for the evolution/improvement of the human mind over the centuries… or just sheer maintenance of the abilities we have built up, it is impossible to tell.
pity anyone that searches for meaning in the actual products of our mental exercises. it would be like someone trying to attribute meaning to the amount of miles at the end of a treadmill workout.
spose we need to believe we're heading toward some final unified epic win theory; that there's some reason beyond the grind itself… but that's more to do with motivating ourselves to keep going.
it's often not enough to think it (the searching, the thinking, the work) will never end. it's pretty human to need an aim. even when all the 'moving towards it' is probably the important thing, empty as it may seem on its own.
hmm. it appears i had bleargh flakes for breakfast this morning.
-mara u 4853267