Thursday, January 6, 2011

First Contemplations of the New Year

As I see it, chaos is without structure. It may consist of changing
forms, but those forms have no meaning because they have no context,
one to any other. They have no relationship, one to the other.
Thoughts, then, work to create relationships as well as boundaries.
Relationships cannot exist without boundaries: a link between two
things helps create a definition of those things (at least in what
they have in common). The more such links, the more defined a thing
is, and definitions--by definition--are exclusive. They exclude.

So, thoughts are the method by which we relate observed or conjectured
things. Thoughts define. These may (and probably always are)
approximate definitions. Models for understanding the universe that
work most--but not all--of the time. In this way thoughts restrict
meaningless chaos; thoughts channel its mutations. This leads to
something much more interesting than either changeless order or
indefinite chaos: complexity. One theory of the universe (God),
becomes many (multiple religions), and then even more complex (all the
many laws of physics, growing ever more complex, from Newtonian to
Einstein's theories to quantum). In a universe moving from a
highly-ordered state to a completely chaotic one (the third law of
thermodynamics), complexity is the best we can hope for.

The genesis of this particular pondering came from a friend's byline
which stated that 'not knowing' is intelligence, because the unknown
is boundless whereas thoughts are strictures. If that means that
remaining malleable to the surprising, shocking, paradigm-shifting
experiences life offers is wisdom, then I would agree. If it suggests
that thoughts themselves are at fault, I disagree. Thinking is not the
same as knowing. With thinking, there is always room for
reinterpretation and additional perspectives, even radical
redefinition. We see this happen in language, arts, and science.
Slang, new ideologies, and social adaptations would not exist
otherwise. Knowing, on the other hand, is assumption: taking for
granted. Rather than using the definitions provided by thought and
accepting their potential mutability, being used by those definitions.
The path to fundamentalism--whether of the secular or religious sorts.

As a matter of course, however, we all fall prey to the necessity of
knowing things we cannot absolutely know--erring on the side of order,
rather than complexity. We have finite resources of mind within which
to build our civilizations. We will all make assumptions, so that we
can devote energy to mundane tasks of survival, rather than
questioning--every second of every day--whether the ground beneath our
feet will dematerialize, whether we will spontaneously combust, or
whether we will vibrate into another dimensionality.

No comments: