Readers who intend to inspire me often send me books and essays written by them, or books and essays written by others. Before I click “Remove”, one of these products will catch my attention from time to time. A recent example: Robert L. Fry, a physicist and engineer at Johns Hopkins University, recently sent me a 92-year-old paper. He thought that considering how I touted doubts The idea, I might like it. He is right.
Felix CohenA legal scholar who specializes in the rights of Native Americans wrote:What is the problem? “In 1929, Monism, A respectable philosophy magazine.This GodelThis title alone inspired my brain cells, just like Cohen’s main point expressed in eccentric prose. He asserted that philosophers are obsessed with “the nature of propositions, assertions, or judgments”, but “almost completely ignore” the problem.
Cohen believes that the problem is more than just “psychological provocation, which is compared with acupuncture and miracles to form an assertion.” In other words, the problem is not just a means to reach an answer. The question itself is valuable; in philosophy, the question may be more important than the answer.
As Cohen said, “Those who raise world problems are more worthy of the title of’philosopher’ than those who solve problems.” Yes, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein and Feyerabend, Who questioned the feasibility of the “truth” came to mind. Here are some more thoughts inspired by Cohen’s article.
Questions, sentences and formulas
Cohen’s questions are usually implicit in the proposition. For example, x = 3 + 5 is equivalent to asking, what is the sum of three and five? I will go further and say that problems are the foundation of all human discourse. Like many or even all creatures, we humans are curious creatures. Language is our main means of exchanging information, which can be defined as answers to explicit or implicit questions.This applies to all forms of communication, from small talk about sports, weather and fashionable new things Netflix Demonstrated a high level of philosophy, science and mathematics.
I have been trying hard to learn the mathematical foundations of quantum mechanics. If I understand a differential equation, it means I understand the problem it implicitly solves. This equation is propelling, as if numbers and symbols are tilting toward possible answers. Because I rarely understand differential equations, the symbols are just placed on the page, lazy. I don’t know what questions make the equations come to life, let alone the answers they point to.
Cohen calls questions that produce a single answer “definite”, and Those who have many possible answers “Uncertain.” An example of a certainty problem is 1 + 1 = x.Cohen cited ancient philosophical problems as saying that philosophers often assume that their problems are certain, when in fact they are uncertain.what is the benefit?” for example.
Physical and mental problems Is another example of uncertainty. In a narrow technical sense, the question of mind and body asks how matter generates thought, but it also asks more broadly, what are we? Most mind-body theorists are looking for a single, final, universal answer to this question, written in neuroscience, physics, computer science, analytical philosophy, or all or all of the above. There can be no single final answer, because science and culture keep inventing new answers, because each of us must define who she/he/they are in her/him/their own way.In fact, each of us may “solve” physical and mental problems In many different ways In her/him/their life.
Philosophy as a question
My students use “begging the question” as a synonym for “begging the question.” Asking questions actually means asking or answering questions in a circular or tautological manner; your conclusion is a foregone conclusion.An example is Comprehensive Information Theory, It tries to explain consciousness with a concept and information, namely Preset consciousness. This is asking this question. Cheating.
Although he did not use the phrase “ask a question,” Cohen hinted at it when he warned against asking the question “assumed to be implied.” Cohen said that philosophers make this mistake when they think that the question of uncertainty is certain. Say it again, I will go further.A generation definition Philosophy as inquiry Unanswered questionTherefore, as a whole, philosophy assumes that its questions have answers, which is a big questioning exercise.
Cohen seems to have made a similar point in this tortuous passage: “Of course, we will never use our original marks and noises to bridge the gap between human souls, but if there is any rational communication between people, we We must somehow approach the ideal of unambiguous speech. To do this, we must remember that the ideal transcends the language of pursuing it.” Cohen’s words reminded me of Thomas Kuhn When he talked about the impossibility of precise communication, it was difficult for him to say exactly what he meant.
Quantum mechanics and twenty questions
Unlike philosophy, science asks questions that can be answered through observation, experimentation, and reasoning (including mathematical reasoning). Science has given many answers, including evolution, genetic code, quantum mechanics, general relativity, and the big bang theory. As I pointed out in a recent column, some scientists believe that scientific answers will eventually add up to a description of nature so complete and so satisfying that it answers all our questions.
Other scientists rejected the idea of a final description of reality, they said The answer always raises new questions. A popular analogy holds that as our island of knowledge grows, so does the coast of ignorance. In fact, some scientists believe that science can exist forever and even survive the death of the solar system and the universe. These endless arguments about science once seemed naive and sentimental to me, but they have become more attractive.
Quantum mechanics also subverts the dream of final, objective knowledge, because it shows that the answers we get depend on the questions we ask. John Wheeler Compares science with surprise versions of twenty questions. In the normal version of the game, a group of people choose a person, animal, place, or thing. I tried to guess it by asking each member of the group a question with a yes or no answer. Does it have legs? Is it famous? Is it a female?
In the surprise version of the game, the team did not agree on any answers in advance.Each person chooses only one person/place/animal/thing Rear I asked my yes or no question. When I keep asking questions, everyone will think about some questions privately and answer me accordingly, but each answer must be consistent with the previous answer.In this game and quantum mechanics, reality does not exist Until we use specific questions to explore it.
Accept the enlightenment of the mystery
exist The diversity of religious experience, William James quoted the philosopher Xenos Clark to describe the epiphany triggered by the ether. This experience convinced Clark that philosophy “is like a hound chasing its own tail” and that “the true purpose of philosophy is accomplished…when we stop questioning intelligence.”
Similarly, the Buddha and other saints suggested the highest spiritual wisdom, or Enlightenment, Consists in accepting every moment of existence completely and undoubtedly.Once you reach this state, you no longer ask questions, not because you know the answers, but because the questions and The answer no longer matters. You are just relaxing. It is said.
If this is enlightenment, I don’t want to be enlightened.My preferred perspective Buddhist teacher Stephen BatchelorThe enlightenment he experienced was not a peaceful acceptance, but an exhilarating and terrifying awe in front of “the pure mystery of everything.” Bachelor said that enlightenment does not provide answers, but reveals the “importance of the problem.”
Most of us are not enlightened and will torture ourselves with questions about what will happen or should happen next. We worry about the future, our personal fate, and the fate of our country and the world.Yes climate change Will it reduce the value of my beachfront bungalow? If my girlfriend is not vaccinated, should I break up with her? If Joe Biden wins re-election, how will this affect my stock portfolio?
But few of us have seen what Batchelor called “the pure mystery of everything”, which I call “weird. “We may be so satisfied with the answers provided by science or religion that the world no longer looks weird. Or, more logically, we are so focused on our personal problems and so accustomed to the world that we no longer see It’s weird.
But unless something terrible happens to humans, there will always be at least some unsocial people—artists, scientists, philosophers, mystics—who see the weird, unanswerable questions at the core of things and try to make us Others saw it also. This question does not have any specific form. It can be expressed as a grunt of surprise, such as “Huh?” or “What…?” Or simply “?”
Appropriateness of Uptalk
When I described “What is the problem?” to my girlfriend, “Emily”, she replied that young women are often ridiculed for talking “uptalk”—that is, because they changed their speech to make The statement sounds like a problem. Emily suggested that, given the temporary nature of all knowledge, uptalk is a more appropriate form of discourse than confident and powerful statements. Yes, maybe philosophers, scientists, and mathematicians, when they preach, should talk loudly? Maybe the same goes for science writers?
After reading and rereading “What is the problem?” and working hard to write this column, my thoughts have all begun to take the form of uptalk? In need of a break, I walked out of the apartment and walked into the park along the Hudson River, looking at the water, sky, clouds and trees, ferry docks and clock towers, sailboats and barges, geese, seagulls and dogs, fishermen, joggers and bikers. People, for a moment, I saw the problem, except for the problem, everywhere.
This is an opinion and analysis article; opinions expressed Author or author Not necessarily those Scientific american.
I asked a lot of questions in my two recent books: Attention: sex, death and science and Physical and mental issues: science, subjectivity and our true identity.