Thursday, March 19, 2015

On Assumption or The Instability of Beginning

Neutral argumentation is the fundamental feature of the scientific outlook. Without it, whatever is mechanically obtained has no value whatsoever because the person who obtains it does not know what it is. It is equally imperative that in the desire for knowledge one accepts the condition of 'not knowing' as the starting point and proceeds to the condition of 'knowing'. It is only when 'knowing' is complete that the condition of the 'known' is attained and the object of knowledge obtained. These are not ideals of the scientific outlook and it would be indeed demeaning to perceive it that way.

When I come to the topic of assumption I cannot help feel that that is also misunderstood. If only it would imply that one is to never assume. An assumption is to take for granted a premise. When one studies within a framework as in theory one is studying operations and processes themselves. It would be a mistake to think that a theory has no validity because it has no application. The point that 'it has no application' is taken for granted. A theory may not have application till date but it does not follow that it will never have any application. The theory in question could be difficult to implement owing to limited resources.

In general deeper the theory, the harder it is to implement. If a theory is based on direct and easy observations its application is just round the corner and some may be so obvious that they are not even round the corner. This feature is again a reality and not an ideal. Then we come to the subject of 'consensus' which is a problematic area. Why is something true just because it exists in the space of shared reality? Shared reality is understood to be objective reality. Scientific research as it stands is penetrating gradually its walls. Objective reality is no longer what it used to be. It has evolved to include in some preliminary way subjective reality although not in a profound sense. But this too does not solve the problematic aspect of consensus. If subjective reality can be explained objectively then there is only one reality that is being grappled with and that is - process.

Reality as a concept is highly constraining for it makes one refuse to accept anything that does not stand its test. If a pen can only be used to write , it could well be only our limitation. That an umbrella can also be used as a type of fruit basket is a well known example that lateral thinking proponents such as de Bono have used to illustrate this point. But to stretch this point far enough to see that reality could eventually be a convenient phenomenon without benefits. Each object that is interacted with, reacts in a manner, peculiar to its selection, not beyond the scope of scientific knowledge.

Apple falls but so do leaves of trees. When seasons breeze in and out from time to time, the understanding of this process could evolve depending on whether we choose to study apples or leaves. It would help to note that there may be times when the truth may seem round the corner but it is quite possible that the nearer you go the farther you get but go on anyway because you are still far away from where you started. This is called the impermanence of beginning. This means that you might as well move on with the acknowledgement that understanding may not be as obvious as it seemed in the first instance.

You pick one leaf and study it threadbare. Pick another and you may find, superficial differences. The trimmings are altered. The trimming that you undertake to study takes you to another object of study. But all that you have studied leads to a careful synthesis if you manage to put the pieces together again. Even if you do not get to complete the picture there is enough remaining to sufficiently stimulate you. The pursuit of knowledge still remains as fresh as it was in the place of understanding that you started off with. This is an enticing aspect of inquiry and discovery where you are motivated to inquire and discover for the sole purpose of understanding the phenomenon in question.

It may be stated that the mind understands incrementally from intellectual processing of stimulation. The one who levies charges against the effort to know, must be reminded that every understanding gained, however small, is a step forward from ignorance. Pictures cannot be completed superficially. It is the same with understanding.

One of the problems in the scientific outlook is the aspect of consensus, which enables framing of real environment. But it is also constraining for the same reason that generalizations get more and more difficult to arrive at with complicated data. The scientific outlook must incorporate this notion as a means to resist the temptations of hasty judgements as in the case of rare experiences that get highlighted as abnormal. When one object or being as a pen or a leaf is studied, one also studies factors that contribute to their existence. It is essential for the scientific mind to maintain the identities as distinct and this is corroborated by the necessity of analysis. It is also essential to bloom like the asymetric visage of synthesis to complete the picture.                  

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