28 January 2010

A view of Science

I don't quite know what to say about this...but it seems interesting--we cycle through science at a detailed level until we lose our way and then we try to generalize toward a human "understanding" that is not at all a "knowing" but a "maybe".

CHOMSKY: Science talks about very simple things, and asks hard questions about them. As soon as things become too complex, science can’t deal with them. The reason why physics can achieve such depth is that it restricts itself to extremely simple things, abstracted from the complexity of the world. As soon as an atom gets too complicated, maybe helium, they hand it over to chemists. When problems become too complicated for chemists, they hand it over to biologists. Biologists often hand it over to the sociologists, and they hand it over to the historians, and so on. But it’s a complicated matter: Science studies what’s at the edge of understanding, and what’s at the edge of understanding is usually fairly simple. And it rarely reaches human affairs. Human affairs are way too complicated. In fact even understanding insects is an extremely complicated problem in the sciences. So the actual sciences tell us virtually nothing about human affairs.

Discussion with Noam Chomsky, Lawrence Krauss & Sean M. Carroll

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