• TheMadFool
    10.8k
    Arthur Conan Doyle creator of fictional master detective Sherlock Holmes.

    George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright, critic, polemcist, and political activist.

    It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts. — Arthur Conan Doyle

    The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man. — George Bernard Shaw

    Doyle is simply repeating, in more eloquent words perhaps, the scientific principle that observation should guide our hypotheses with respect to what reality is and how it operates. I'm sure some of you will immediately notice the tell-tale signs of stoicism therein but that's a topic on its own and beyond the scope of this discussion. Anyway, Doyle's advice, if we could call it that, is we adapt to the world.

    Compare and contrast Doyle with Shaw. Shaw believes that progress is, at its heart, the world made to adapt to us, the exact opposite of Doyle's view.

    Where's the paradox? I hear you asking.

    The paradox is that science is about us adapting (our hypotheses/theories) to the world but once we have good hypotheses/theories, science helps us in adapting the world to us.

    As an illustration of this paradox, consider electricity - we adapted our hypotheses and we managed a good theory of electricity and what did we do with that? Artificial light, electrical heating & cooling i.e. we made the world adapt to us.
  • Banno
    13.5k
    No paradox; if you would know what is, follow Doyle; if you would know what might be, follow Shaw.

    Direction of fit depends on purpose.
  • TheMadFool
    10.8k
    No paradox; if you would know what is, follow Doyle; if you would know what might be, follow Shaw.

    Direction of fit depends on purpose.
    Banno

    Paradox needn't necessarily be an obvious contradiction. Even a subtle irony to a situation, which this is, qualifies it as one.
  • Gnomon
    1.6k
    The paradox is that science is about us adapting (our hypotheses/theories) to the world but once we have good hypotheses/theories, science helps us in adapting the world to us.TheMadFool
    The positive, forward-looking, progressive attitude of Science, stands in contrast to the ancient worldview of Fatalism. If humans are merely pawns of the gods, our best response to the imperfections and evils of the world was to knuckle-under & kow-tow to the mercurial tyrannical deities. In other words, to adapt our personal needs & wishes to the dominant Will of the inscrutable gods.

    But the Enlightenment revolution allowed some of us -- the fortunate few -- to throw-off the chains of Fate, and to approach Nature as an insentient machine that can be re-tuned to suit our human purposes. However, as time went by, we began to realize that Nature, if not a supernatural force, is a living organism with global power over our puny individual purposes. So, our continued freedom to enforce our collective Will in the world, requires that we respect, and adapt to, the natural forces that still dominate our artificial endeavors.

    For example, we escape the "surly bonds" of gravity, only by expending extravagant amounts of energy. Yet, some of us look forward to the day when humans, or transhumans, have the power to bend Nature completely to our will. Then we will truly be the gods of this world. But like the Greek Pantheon, we will still have to grudgingly adapt ourselves to the contrary wills of each-other. :cool:
  • TheMadFool
    10.8k
    So, our continued freedom to enforce our collective Will in the world, requires that we respect, and adapt to, the natural forces that still dominate our artificial endeavors.Gnomon

    This was and is the status quo but the future doesn't necessarily have to be like that - our technological prowess could one day free us of the need to adapt to the world by granting us total control of our environment, the one we're comfortable in and that I'm quite certain is one of the main objectives of science.
  • Gnomon
    1.6k
    This was and is the status quo but the future doesn't necessarily have to be like that - our technological prowess could one day free us of the need to adapt to the world by granting us total control of our environment, the one we're comfortable in and that I'm quite certain is one of the main objectives of science.TheMadFool
    The total freedom of the human Will may indeed be an aspiration of those who look forward to The Singularity, or to the Apotheosis (deification) of Humanity. But there is one thing that may hold us back : the friction of differing opinions & worldviews -- as is evident on this forum. As long as we are free to choose what we believe, even if it's wrong, we will make grudging gradual progress only after protracted political struggles. Some humans are Luddites & Heaven-bound, while others are Technophiles & Transhumanists. History is a Hegelian struggle between opposing forces. So, I don't expect to see that Technopia in my lifetime. :cool:

    PS__The quickest way to overcome political friction is to eliminate the opposition : "kill them . . . kill them all!" And some visionaries with Utopian dreams, such as Hitler's Third Reich, believe that the idyllic ends justify the bloody means. :sad:
  • TheMadFool
    10.8k
    But there is one thing that may hold us back : the friction of differing opinions & worldviews -- as is evident on this forum. As long as we are free to choose what we believe, even if it's wrong, we will make grudging gradual progress only after protracted political struggles. Some humans are Luddites & Heaven-bound, while others are Technophiles & Transhumanists. History is a Hegelian struggle between opposing forcesGnomon

    I kinda agree although I struggle, very hard indeed, to wrap my head around the alleged "...struggle between oppposing forces..." My response, for what its worth, would be that just like two potential suitors can agree to set aside their differences to save the woman they both love, we too can. The fighting if it's unavoidable can be done after we've "saved the woman's life." It seems unlikely that people will want to engage in conflict of any kind once the world has been fully transformed into a completely human-friendly environment - there's just too much at stake.

    "kill them . . . kill them all!"Gnomon

    That particular line of thinking never appealed to me but I have a feeling that one fine day some hapless future US president - the so-called leader of the free world - might just have to do that! Let's hope it'll be a quick death for those destined to such a grim fate. :sad:
  • Gnomon
    1.6k
    It seems unlikely that people will want to engage in conflict of any kind once the world has been fully transformed into a completely human-friendly environment - there's just too much at stake.TheMadFool
    Apparently, you feel that humans are essentially good, and it's merely unfortunate circumstances that make them "break bad". I optimistically tend to look for the good in people, and I don't believe in Evil Incarnate. But it's obvious that every human has the potential to go both ways. And that's what Hegel saw playing-out in human history. The Bible blames the potential for evil in humanity on a free choice by Adam & Eve to ignore the command of God, which resulted in all their descendants being born with the stain of Original Sin.

    My view, though, is not so dramatic or simplistic. Yet, it does have something to do with Freewill. Humans, more than any animal, have the ability to choose to obey (adapt to) Nature, so to speak, or to go contrary to Nature. Hence, our talent for technology has created an artificial world (civilization), which partly shields us from Nature's jungle, "red in tooth & claw". But that isolation also fosters an inner "jungle" of competing personal interests. Moreover, our limited freewill allows us to choose differences of opinion (belief). So, when some people do bad things, they usually believe that they are doing what's in their best interest. But it may happen to go against the interests of others. That freedom to serve self-interest, as well as to serve others, is just inherent in human nature. :cool:


    why good people do bad things :
    Exploring Jung's concept of the Shadow—the unconscious parts of our self that contradict the image of the self we hope to project--Why Good People Do Bad Things guides you through all the ways in which many of our seemingly unexplainable behaviors are manifestations of the Shadow.
    https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-d&q=why+good+people+do+bad+things
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