The Three Stages of Philosophy (Part 3)

Part 3: Modeling

No, not Science… modeling. Science is the pursuit of facts. Philosophy is the pursuit of context. Mathematical modeling takes a few facts, gleaned from science, and sticks them into a complex formula to build a story out of them. That, ultimately, is philosophy.

The easiest examples of this are the spaghetti lines we see on the TV screen when the weather person tries to forecast the path of a hurricane. Each line is a different model. Each line is a different story, just like the shepherds sitting on the mountain. The sophist would take all those lines and average them down to a single line, with little tweaks here and there for their own benefit, and insisting that they were the only ones who could accurately do such a thing. The philosopher would suggest a “cone of probability” that would be updated every day as things progressed… which is what gets done today.

So much of our modern lives and our scientific awareness of our world and universe is based on modeling. From predicting the weather, to economics, and even cosmology. We technically do not know whether Black Holes exist or not. No one has ever seen one. They are predicted by a complex mathematical model, but that is only a story until proven scientifically… which means “observed” directly. Some would argue that they must exist because we see the effects of them. This argument causes Plato to try and crawl out of the ground to scream, “you cannot know the truth from the shadow it casts!!”

At every level, in every instance of the myriad of models being used by our civilization today, there is a war being waged between the sophists and the philosophers. Climate change, banking and investment instruments, and parallel universes. Do Worm Holes, Super Massive Red Giant stars, and Parallel Universes really exist? Before you answer that, remember that, until a couple years ago, every scientist firmly believed that comets were made of ice. Then, they tried to land a probe on one and it bounced across the surface because the ice clamps they put on it could not grip the solid rock that is reality. What if this was also the case with Black Holes. We have the scientists out at the Large Hadron Collider working away based on a certain model of physics. What if that model was not exactly true? Maybe not in the early stages, like the spaghetti lines of hurricane prediction all follow the same path early on, but maybe further on down the line. Their models assure them that they will not create a Black Hole, but what if there are no Black Holes and they are about to accidentally create what really exists? We certainly know how such errors occur in the banking industry. Everything seems fine and according to the modeled plan,.. until it isn’t.

Not that I mind all the theories and stories being told. It is as it has always been, and this is just the ruminations of a crazy bald guy. Although, what bothers me is how many people who consider themselves professionals assert that their theories are actually facts. That is the sign of a religious zealot, and it is dangerous. Ultimately, I am of the opinion that science needs to become a religion, but not based on the stories it tells. Science should become an existential religion of open mindedness, and base itself around the solemn ritual of the Scientific Method. I doubt it will ever be as simple as that, for there will always be a battle between the Sophists and the Philosophers.

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