Friday, November 13, 2015

The Past, The Future, And Imagination

The Past, The Future and


The way I currently understand General Relativity these days I have two thoughts about time. I have a third thought about our experience of time and that thought is all about how Natural Selection molded our understanding of time.

[THOUGHT-1] The past is immutable.
[THOUGHT-2] The future is dynamic, and if not dynamic then 'unknowable' or (shielded) from scrutiny.

[THOUGHT-3] The "Back To The Future" movies are some of my all time favorites. They represent the realization of the most basic and powerful attribute of mentation and that attribute is "imagination"! 

We (as are all sufficiently complex motile organisms) were designed by Natural Selection to form models of our sensory inputs and to run, in real-time, those models in order to predict the short term evolution of those same inputs. To the extent that the model is successful the organism can successfully negotiate its environment.

This 'modeling-of-sensory-inputs' is nothing more and nothing less than what we call imagination. 

Oh yes, and when you consider the above three 'THOUGHTs', they too are examples of our imagination. In this case about the process of mentation itself.

And finally one last thought:

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Three Wishes

Three Wishes 
(Well Really ONE Wish)

Recently as a result of conversations with my daughter when she and her husband visited recently, remembering and talking about our past as I and my sister visited our old growing up homeplace, and new understandings that arise from one of the books I'm currently reading; I've come to what I think is a wise statement for me at this time of my life.

To get to the statement I have to talk about wishes.  As a young child we all had fun playing the Wishing Game:  "If you could have anything you wanted what would it be?"  This game when pursued with some vigor (and rigor) does eliminate all sorts of things that you would like to wish for.  I recall as a very young child listening to my father discuss the paradox of "Wishing for more wishes."  We all realized why wishing for more wishes is out.  The interesting thing is once you dispose of this ultimate wish then all the others wishes that are essentially the same also fall by the way.

As a child I had (and I think still do) a very rich imagination.  This imagination was encouraged by the way we were raised as children.  Your imagination was like a toy that you could invent yourself and there were no boundaries and no limits.  To say that we are limited only by our imagination is to say, in some sense, we are limitless.

By the time I was a young/middle teenager I had taken an avid interest in all things technical and scientific.  I often wonder how I would have developed if I had at my disposal what the Internet offers all of us these days.

As a result of my interests and my imagination the "Wishing Game" took on a deeper significance.  I recall thinking, "I wish as I grow I could know everything!"  Of course, it was the case that this wish was immediately sorted into the pile that contained "I wish for more wishes."  I recall modifying the wish to be: "I wish as I grow I have enough sense to understand the advances in knowledge that occur around me."

It turns out that this wish too is a bit much as I look back on the past 68 years of my life.  To some extent, and associated with some small bits of knowledge, this modified wish has been partially granted.

I still have and cherish all my wishes.  I do still wish I understood everything,  I do still wish I can continue to understand new knowledge that develops around me.  

And now I have a new wish:

I wish for peace of mind.  This is the peace of mind that must necessarily accompany the realization of just how profound our ignorance of The Cosmos is.

The new book I'm reading: The Outer Limits of Reason: What Science, Mathematics, and Logic Cannot Tell Us.

One final thing.  I will continue to pontificate on the latest version of my Theories of Everything.  I can not help myself, as I read new ideas and think about old ideas I must continue to try and integrate all these ideas into a meaningful whole.