Wednesday, June 1, 2016

I Knew That Was Going To Happen!

The following is from Sean Carroll's (theoretical physicist at California Institute of Technology) new book "The Big Picture." (Dutton-Penguin Random House 2016)

"There is a bit of a mismatch between Laplace's (Pierre-Simon Marquis de Laplace) notion of determinism and what most people think of when they hear the 'the future is determined.' The latter phrase conjures up images of destiny or fate--the idea that what will eventually happen has 'already been decided,' with the implication that it's been decided by someone, or something."

"The physical notion of determinism is different from destiny or fate in a subtle but crucial way: because Laplace's Demon doesn't actually exist, the future may be determined by the present, but literally nobody knows what it will be. When we think of destiny, we think of something like the Three Fates of Greek mythology or the Weird Sisters of Shakespeare's Macbeth, wizened oracles who will use riddles to indicate our future path, from which we will try to escape from and fail. The real universe is nothing like that. It's more like an annoying child who likes to approach people and say, 'I know what's going to happen next!' Then, when you ask what will happen, the child says, 'I can't tell you.' And after it happens, they say, 'See? I knew that was going to happen!' That's the universe for you."

I can't begin to tell you how amused I was by this example. And it was difficult not to add my own emphasis or italics. (the paragraphs appear exactly as they do in the book, with the exception of giving you Laplace's full name) Here is a theoretical physicist saying determinism is like a bratty, know-it-all kid, messing with your mind. Which reminds me exactly of how I come across! The whole process of G-G-G is determined. If you follow the formula, the outcome is assured. If you don't follow the formula, the outcome is assured. ('I know what's going to happen next!') The choice people make is obvious--easily detectable in body language, facial expression, and what is at the core of their conversation(s).

So why do people make the choices they make? Here is the beginning of the answer: "The most serious lying is when we know perfectly well that we do not and cannot know the truth about things and never act accordingly. We always think and act as though we do know the truth. This is lying. For instance, we know nothing about ourselves, and we really know we know nothing, yet we never recognize or admit the fact; we never confess it even to ourselves, we think and act and speak as though we knew who we are. (emphasis mine) This is the origin, the beginning of lying." ~Ouspensky The Fourth Way

No comments:

Post a Comment