Reasoning From the Unknown

Builds Upon: Wine Tasting, Empiricism, Perception

A clever person understands the paltry limits of their own will and imagination and finds ways to work around them. They know they are a dullard, a mere survival machine compared to the creativity of the universe.

The default impulse of living things is to assert power to spread as far as possible. Left to our own devices we couldn’t have gotten far if the universe hadn’t spent thousands of years whispering its secrets in our ears.

The clever person understands that any formal system should allow us to anticipate and capitalize on accident and error. It should be open to the idea of arriving at a different destination than originally intended.
For folly is sometimes just the voice of the universe trying to tell us something important.

Penicillin would never have been discovered by a Correct-minded person. The culture containing the aberrant mold growth would have been destroyed without being given a second glance.
But as it happened, one of the scientists in the lab had a curious nature.
Fleming accomplished something great by approaching the universe with a playful attitude and rolling with ‘mistakes’ just to see what would happen next.
He intuitively knew how to reason from error, from the unknown.
It requires a certain wise sense of humility to do as he did. Fleming seems to have understood that human judgment can account for only a scant few of the possibilities.

Someone invested in the ascendancy of human reason cannot reason from the unknown. They have already enthroned direct rational inquiry as king of creation.
The literal-minded worship order in all things yet lapses in ‘order’ are how discoveries get made.
Seeing patterns in seeming chaos tells us more than does forcing ‘chaos’ into order.
Champions of Enlightened rationalism seek to conquer nature with pure reason while neglecting the far more sublime powers of the intuition.

In the oceans of his dream world, Kekule found the secret of the benzene molecule. Edison would deprive himself of sleep and doze off with ball bearings in his hand so that the crash of metal would wake him up in the moment he drifted off. It was his hope in that one instant when the rational and intuitive minds met that he would discover a piece of his answer.

The playful person cultivates these powers of the intuition
They understand the power of a recombinant system over explicit inquiries.
For the human will is a weak and narrow force by itself. The less of it one must use, perhaps the better.

The playful person might design a system intended to circumvent or regulate oneself; a concept inimical to those crusaders who try to overcome ‘irrationality’ or ‘darkness’ in a fantastic journey towards the Absolute Explicit.

Science has proven to be an effective philosophy of observation but it tells us little about the observer.
Science is a tool. Any sentient being could be scientific.
It doesn’t come with a user manual for human beings.

It does not tell us if we are asking the right questions for the right reasons.
It does not let tell us the important questions we’ve failed to ask or why we’ve failed.
For each inquiry there are an infinity we could have made. So how ought we to inquire and then use this tool most effectively?

Clearly, the very first step for a being to maximize its effective use of this tool is to understand itself and know its limits.
The ability of humans to recombine ideas in new ways has lots of weaknesses and blind spots.
With the aid of machines and computers, we might create models that augment recombinant powers of the imagination.

Effective use of the intuitive mind in conjunction with conscious reason is one such machine. So too could we create explicit thought systems designed to cover for mental weaknesses and maximize our strengths. And of course we would do best using computer programs to explore patterns to the fullest.

Imagine for instance choosing some musical patterns and then creating an algorithm with random elements to see how the unknown replies? Might the ‘answer’ give us ideas a human usually couldn’t have thought of?

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4 responses to “Reasoning From the Unknown

  1. ‘And of course we would do best using computer programs to explore patterns to the fullest.

    Imagine for instance choosing some musical patterns and then creating an algorithm with random elements to see how the unknown replies? Might the ‘answer’ give us ideas a human usually couldn’t have thought of?’

    They’re not applied to music, but the algorithms you’re thinking of are usually called “metaheuristics.”

    http://cs.gmu.edu/~sean/book/metaheuristics/

    • Thanks for pointing me to metaheuristics.
      I knew someone out there must be doing something like this, but did not anything about how to find them.

      By the way, I picked up the ‘Metaphors We Live By’ book that you recommended and I love it so far.

      I had planned to eventually make a post about how mundane aspects of life influence our higher actions and how this principle can be used as a deliberate creative force.
      ‘Metaphors’ is exactly the type of source I’ve been looking for.
      I’d long looked to George Orwell’s famous essay on the English language. It’s brilliant how he reveals the ways people deceive in writing through passive voice and the use of stale metaphors that don’t evoke any immediate imagery or feeling.

  2. Pingback: Father Knows Best: Holy Week Edition « Patriactionary

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