Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Eden's Paradox?

I had proposed earlier that we, and life forms before us, have evolved calculating mechanisms which, when predicting future consequences from an assessment of their causes, have assumptions built in that causation in nature is purposeful - that we have in effect the will of nature to contend with. I should have added at the time that these mechanisms (some call them cognitive modules) need to operate from the further and somewhat contradictory assumption that we have the freedom to contend with nature's will.

So we seem always at cross purposes when these conflicting "wills" inevitably complicate attempts at an accurate determination of the future. This may also add up to a certain built-in distaste for paradox. Especially as we can't know when or even if either of these assumptions is correct.

Let's complicate this even further: If the assumption of purpose has led to a belief in gods or spirits, then you are virtually compelled to consider them as part of the explanation for any questions concerning life and nature. You "can't not" involve them in any of your calculations. Worse, they will have become factual considerations - no longer possibilities.

So would you then be able to ignore both these "facts" and the assumptions that "made" them into facts in any attempt to re-examine the correctness of your original programming, or even accept there was such a program from the beginning? Just how do you question a "truth" you know for a "fact" to be self-evident?

It would appear there is only one answer to this and perhaps to any other paradox: You (and I) can know nothing to any degree of certainty unless we concede that nothing at all is certain. (Probably.)

But if we have a will that can contend with nature's offerings, we'd be wise to see that as both our and nature's purpose - as life forms are likely nature's only construct with both will and purpose.

And as they say here in the Garden of Hawaii, "that's why hard."

1 comment:

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