Website-4 Home Page
Note: At this time, this page is simply a placeholder for planned website-4 developments, the nature of which is outlined below.
The goal of website-4 is to add further complementary discussions to the overall scope of Mysearch website, which has been divided into a series of sub-webs for two primary reasons. First, they represented a logical containment of interests that were being pursued at an earlier point in time and, second, each sub-web allows the number of pages to be better managed. In the case of website-1, the focus of interest was categorized in terms of the idea of ‘worldviews’, ‘evolution’ and ‘science’, which grew to be over 600 pages, such that website-2 and website-3 were created to allow an expansion of interests into different areas. In this context, website-2 mirrored some aspects of the sections in website-1 in terms of ‘perspective’, ‘developments’ and ‘technology’, while website-3 expanded on a specific aspect of the discussion of ‘speculative science’ focused on ‘wave models’.
So, what additional topics might be pursued?
Basically, all of the Mysearch discussions start out as a learning process, i.e. my own. In the case of website-1, the initial focus was Artificial Intelligence (AI), but primarily from a technical perspective. However, the scope quickly started to raise ethical issues and wider evolutionary implications that required a better understanding of a broad range of issues, which ultimately led to the discussion entitled Brave New Worlds in website-2. Of course, even at a superficial level, the broad range of topics and issues discussed in website-1 had to be undertaken in a stepwise process, which over time helped create a framework to which more detail could be added. Later, website-2 and website-3 allowed the focus to shift to slightly different topics, which could be linked to earlier discussions, such that the overall scope was expanded. However, before pursuing the potential scope of website-4, there might be some benefit in quickly outlining the overarching principles that have guided all the discussions. First, there is no claim that any of the discussions carry any ‘weight of authority’ , rather they seek to pursue a ‘duty of inquiry’ as outlined in William Clifford’s essay ‘The Ethics of Belief’, while also reflecting on the wisdom encapsulated in many of the quotes referenced throughout the entire website. The first is attributed to Carl Jung:
As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.
Carl Jung (1875–1961) was both a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, who essentially founded the field of analytical psychology based on psychiatry, anthropology, archaeology, literature, philosophy and theology. However, in 1957, at the age of 84, he started on a series of discussions, which resulted in a manuscript entitled ‘Memories, Dreams, Reflections’ that he worked on until his death in 1961. The quote above is taken from this work and it is possibly worth considering in the wider context of the following passage.
“Our age has shifted all emphasis to the here and now, and thus brought about a demonization of man and his world. The phenomenon of dictators and all the misery they have wrought springs from the fact that man has been robbed of transcendence by the short-sightedness of the super-intellectuals. Like them, he has fallen a victim to unconsciousness. But man’s task is the exact opposite: to become conscious of the contents that press upward from the unconscious. Neither should he persist in his unconsciousness, nor remain identical with the unconscious elements of his being, thus evading his destiny, which is to create more and more consciousness. As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.”
While the passage does provide further context to the one-line quote, its description is possibly too abstract for many, such that we might focus on the purpose of life suggested in the last sentence. Clearly, life exists in the form of millions of shapes and sizes, most of which is driven by survival where purpose is essentially defined by environmental cause and effect. However, it appears that evolution has presented humanity with a unique opportunity to define its own purpose, although this opportunity is never realized by many, possibly for no fault of their own beyond the makeup of their DNA. This said, purpose is also affected by the ‘human condition’, which Jung was possibly making abstract reference, although it possibly needs to be considered in terms of many other facets of humanity, i.e. biological and cultural. In this respect, the following quote by William K. Clifford possibly better encapsulates the scope of the problem in terms of what we, as individuals and collectively, believe to be true.
"The danger to society is not merely that it should believe wrong things, though that is great enough; but that it should become credulous, and lose the habit of testing things and inquiring into them, for then it must sink back into savagery. It may matter little to me, in my cloud-castle of sweet illusions and darling lies; but it matters much to Man that I have made my neighbours ready to deceive. The credulous man is father to the liar and the cheat."
However, it is not necessarily irrational to ‘believe in wrong things’ as perfect knowledge alludes us all. The irrationality of belief only becomes problematic when we assume our beliefs and assumptions are underpinned by certainty, such that they cannot be questioned. In this respect, the following quote by Voltaire is possibly the most succinct summation of this problem.
“Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.”
Even so, it would appear that many in today’s world are certain in their beliefs, irrespective of whether they are founded on theology, philosophy or science. For while we might be able to quantify a ‘degree of certainty’, probability would suggest that almost any belief may be proved false in some aspect of its details, such that all worldviews are transitory assumptions when viewed from the perspective of history. Likewise, the idea of the human condition can also be distorted by the assumption that evolution is a one-way process of continuous improvement, where the original Darwinian concept of ‘survival of the fittest’ simply evolves towards ‘survival of the best’. However, the following quote by Charles Darwin might suggest a problem with this idea and while, in today’s world, his words may appear politically incorrect, they may nevertheless highlight a real danger to humanity.
“With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to smallpox. Thus, the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.”
While many may have reservations about where this line of thought might be heading, we still possibly need to consider whether there is an underlying truth in the evolutionary process suggested, which operates outside any notion of present-day political correctness – see Freedom of Speech for more details surrounding the discussion of this type of issue, which in-turn was part of the ‘Political Addendum’ discussion. However, the primary purpose of this outline has simply been to illustrate the potential breadth of topics that any ‘pursuit of knowledge’ might consider, which invariably requires a complementary depth of knowledge. So, in this context, the goal of website-4 might be the pursuit of both better in-depth understanding of specific topics in the fields of both philosophy and science, such that a wider breadth of knowledge might be taken into consideration. We might start by simply trying to outline the scope of some different philosophies of interest.
Note: While many may disagree, this website will consider all religious beliefs as a form of philosophical conjecture in the sense that they are ideas, which while possibly appearing logical, have no obvious tangible proof. As this aspect of philosophy will not be addressed – see Personal Perspective for more details. There is also an aspect of philosophy that extends into science in the sense that the nature of knowledge can be question, both in scope and certainty. Of course, even in the reduced scope implied, there are still many aspects of philosophy to be considered.
While the idea of ‘theology’ as a ‘philosophy’ will not be discussed, ‘metaphysical’ ideas are a common topic of discussion, although this website prefers to start with a distinction between ‘ontology’ and ‘epistemology’. As a very simplistic definition, ontology will be defined as ‘what is real and is known to exist in the world’, such that it might exclude discussions about ‘unicorns and deities’ for which no physical evidence exists. In contrast, the initial definition of epistemology might be described as simply ‘what we know and how we know it’. While it may appear that these two definitions might overlap, a distinction might be drawn in terms of mathematics, which is knowledge that might be used to described the physical world, but is not itself part of the physical world. We might also consider two other aspects of philosophy defined in terms of ‘logic’ and ‘ethics’. The word ‘logic’ originally implied ‘what is spoken’ , but is now generally associated with some form of ‘logical reasoning’ , although the scope of what is ‘logical’ may still be debated. While the idea of ‘ethics’ is often assumed to encompass the discussion of ‘morality’, there may be an important distinction that requires further consideration.
Note: It might be suggested that ethics can be described in terms of a set of general guidelines, which might be adopted, not only by individuals but by a society at large. In contrast, the idea of morality appears to be more associated with an individual’s sense of right and wrong. For example, while killing is morally wrong to an individual, it is often considered ethical by the state in times of war.
Of course, it is not the purpose of this initial discussion to pursue the debate about the scope of philosophy, such that we might now attempt to outline the potential scope of science under consideration in website-4. The Mysearch website has already attempted to discuss the topic of science in many ways, e.g. Scientific Perspective, Foundation Science, Accepted Science and Speculative Science, although most were orientated towards Theoretical Science rather than what might be inferred by Applied Science. From a philosophical perspective, theoretical science might be described as being more epistemological in scope, due to its mathematical abstractions, while applied science is possibly more ontological in nature as its applications generally have to operate in the real world.
Note: It might be worth clarifying a number of descriptive definitions surrounding the scope of science beyond the basic classification of theoretical and applied science. We might also introduce the idea of natural science as being orientated towards the description, prediction and understanding of natural phenomena, where its methodology requires empirical evidence from observation and experimentation. In this context, we might cite subjects, such as biology, chemistry and physics, which in combination might then be used as the foundations of other Earth sciences. However, for simplicity, we might accept the general description of ‘applied science’ to encompass the application of existing scientific knowledge to practical applications.
Given the inference above, it might be assumed that mathematics is not an applied science, as it is often used to create an abstract model of reality. However, this abstraction does not, and has not, precluded its use in all manner of real-world applications. However, it might be said that mathematics is better described as a tool, which is philosophically neutral in its application. However, given that there has already been an attempt to cover some of the basic mathematical concepts – see Mathematical Perspective, any additional discussions will try to focus on supplementary topics.
So, what about other applied sciences?
Many of the discussions throughout the entire Mysearch website focused on the issue of evolution, especially human evolution in the context of past, present and future. While each of the links shown possibly represents the development of various ideas, i.e. a learning curve, the discussion ‘Brave New Worlds’ was an attempt to consolidate these different perspectives into one overarching framework, which extended the discussion to include social, economic and political factors. However, it was also argued that the scope of technology development was accelerating the rate of human evolution, such that the idea of Darwinian natural selection had to be revised. While the issue of ‘cognition’ has been previously discussed, it was initially considered in terms of Artificial Intelligence (AI), such that a more direct comparison with the complexity of human intelligence might be overdue, which possibly requires a better understanding of Human Physiology and Neuro-Physiology.
So, how might we better assess science fact versus science fiction?
In part, we might start with the difference between a goal and a
wish, where the former can define a series of steps leading towards
a future goal, while a wish cannot. In this context, science future
may be a realistic goal, although not necessarily guaranteed, while
science fiction falls into the category of a wish. Of course, what constitutes
a realistic scientific goal also requires a better understanding of
the current state of applied science and not just its theoretical extrapolations.
Therefore, the goal of website-4 is simply to continue the learning
process into any number of topics that might help separate a goal from