Ask Dr. Silverman 5 — Limits of Mind: Possible Human Science
Herb Silverman is the Founder of the Secular Coalition of America, the Founder of the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry, and the Founder of the Atheist/Humanist Alliance student group at the College of Charleston. Here we talk about science, math, and limits (maybe, or maybe not).
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: In one view, the limitations of the human mind set boundaries on possible human science. Human empirical methods with the inclusion of artificially constructed structures can extend the reach of the human mind, whether computational constructs, e.g., algorithms or data collection systems, or tools to manifest the world with greater precision to the senses, e.g., telescopes and microscopes. However, these translate the information back into the range of experience and processing of human beings.
In another perspective, the discoveries about the world reflect the tendencies in thought, and so the limitations, of the human mind, whether individuals or groups. What we know to various degrees, seem to know, and think we know, these reflect the form of information processing of human beings at large. Hills and valleys of fidelity and complexity reflecting the internal mechanics of the mind.
Pure mathematics seems to reflect this the most exquisitely. Some discoveries would, probably, remain impossible without the aid of technology. In particular, the world of large data sets, powerful computational systems, and to-the-task algorithms to help teams of professional mathematicians.
As technology advances, and as a practical philosophical inquiry, how will science advance? Where will possible human science hit a wall? Will machines launch independent scientific enquiries in the future to make discoveries barely comprehensible to most human beings?
Professor Herb Silverman: Aristotle pioneered the scientific method in ancient Greece alongside his empirical biology and work on logic, rejecting a purely deductive framework in favor of generalizations made from observations of nature. Modern science began to develop in the scientific revolution of 16th- and 17th-century Europe when the scientific method was formalized.