Sunday, April 2, 2017

An Enigma on Man - Part 1, Verse 4

A whirling, cognitive gyre looms before us. To successfully navigate this unusually challenging three-page expanse, let’s review a couple of crucial concepts. Perhaps the easiest way to do this is to provide the concepts as definitions of two words found in the poem. Both words are adjectives.
1. ontic [on-tik] — relating to what is, concerned with what actually exists or noumena, as opposed to phenomena. It comes from ontology or the nature of Being.
2. epistemic [ep-uh-stee-mik] — relating to what is known or understanding, concerned with phenomena as opposed to noumena. It comes from epistemology (TOK for Obama Academy fans) or the nature of knowledge.

These are often useful notions, responsible for instant replay in sports and surveillance devices in court proceedings. Obviously, dividing the world this way makes some sense.

We generally say science deals in the ontic, while philosophy with the epistemic. So the underlying ontic reality of the atom stays the same, despite its changing epistemic forms from Thomson’s plum pudding model to Bohr’s electrons-as-planets model to Schrodinger’s probability cloud model.

Further complications arise, however, when modern science places heavy bets “on point particles and fields”, which are well-nigh completely mathematically defined—an almost totally epistemic domain, albeit one supported and tested by what we believe is real ontic evidence. But then science further furiously fans this whirling vortex when it found that, at the atomic level, it appears that ontic reality is inextricably entangled with the epistemic known.

One further term:
Decoherence is the process by which a quantum system’s superposition changes from what can be explained by quantum mechanics to that which can be explained by classical mechanics. Feel free to review the double slit experiment. And don’t forget to look up “god-trick” when encountered.

As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk, 
Our Being runs forward and back
For the ontic’s uncovered by thinking, 
And each thought leads us back to that fact.

Previous            Next

1 comment:

Big Myk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.