Saturday, 16 May 2009

Where purple fishes run laughing through your fingers?

Quick post this one, apropos of nothing in particular, but on the topic of the poetry of reality.

The quest for truth forces - compels? allures? entices? - the reductionist to atomise: to go back to basics, in a Cartesian fashion, and build your knowledge from there. So, quarks beget atoms beget molecules, and molecules beget cells and so on (I love the ironic Biblical vibe), and in the same way physics begets physical sciences; physics is the rock on which the scientific house is built (there I go again!).

The quick brush off to this is the conceptual limits of empirical way of researching: It proceeds on the basis of imperfect, imcomplete data to sketch rules to understand the rest (and in this way its power is its limitation: if we had perfect, complete data we wouldn't need to model it to predict how it would behave!).

So as we all know the scientific method filters the universe and provides a meaningful structure out of all the sensory data on an intrinscally arbitrary basis.

Which means we can't know for sure that we're looking in the right direction and not overlooking something.

But the process of atomisation systemically misses the significance of any properties which may emerge from aggregations of data: metaphorical structures. To the extent meaning can be constructed from the emergent properties of data, the scientific realist has to deny it is there.

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