Can you show it to me?

over 9 years ago

In the course of my life, the more I concerned myself with physics, I realized that actually I was a "meta-physicist". And then I increasingly played with that idea. And if you ask me: "My dear Heinz von Foerster, what is a meta-physicist?', I would say the following: There are questions among those we ask about the world that it is possible to answer: "Heinz von Foerster, how old are you?" Well, you can look that up in a catalog: Born in 1911, that means he is 90. Or you can ask questions which cannot be answered, like for example: "Heinz von Foerster, tell me, what was the origin of the universe?" Well, then I could give you one of the 35 different theories. Ask an astronomer, and he says: "There was this Big Bang about 20 million years ago." Or ask a good Catholic: "Everyone knows that. God created the world, and after seven days he was weary and took a break and that was Sunday ..." So there are different, very interesting hypotheses about the origins of the universe. That is, there are so many different hypotheses because the question cannot be answered. So all that is relevant is how interesting is the story that someone invents to explain the origins of the universe. _Of course we are very close to art there ... If it's a matter of inventing a good story, a poetic story ..._ Exactly, exactly ... That's what it is. There is a struggle between two or three or even ten different poets. Who can invent a funny, amusing or interesting story so that everyone immediately thinks: "That's what must have happened!" _But science, and your own research ... those are not just inventions or good stories? Surely they're based on mathematics, on numbers, on provability, on indisputable scientific data?_ Well, yes, but these days there is already so much data that it is no longer possible to include all the different data in your "story". And then artificial data is invented, for example "particles" ... Then "particles" are invented that do whatever it is we don't understand. So in my opinion particles are always the solutions to problems that we can't solve any other way. That is, they are inventions that help to explain certain problems. Those are particles. _I think I have to ask a dumb question..._ I understand, yes ... Right, let me explain it a bit better. Let's say there is a hole in my theory, one I can't gloss over. So what I do is, I just say: Look, here are some new particles, that are either green, yellow or ... I don't know what ... They replace the hole in my theory. So I maintain that each particle we read about in today's physics is the answer to a question that we can't answer. _But that's terrible! How can we let a world-wide networked system of machines grow, more or less into infinity, if it is based on theories that apparently have holes or are only "good stories", I mean on such shaky foundations? Isn't that dangerous?_ Well, in this world-wide functioning system of machines all theories are correct. And of course that's what people want. And why are they correct? Because they can all be deduced from other theories and "stories". _But what will it lead to? How does it go on?_ It goes on deducing indefinitely. _But there have to be limits somewhere?_ No, not at all, that's the good thing about it. You can go on forever. _In logic._ Yes, precisely. _But in reality?_ Where is reality? Can you show it to me?

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