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Many systems of thought assume an infinite power of calculation from the thinker. In other words, they assume that from a given set of propositions, all the possible consequences of those propositions are implied on the propositions themselves.

What they say is that once you learn what summation means, the knowledge that 1000 plus 1001 equals 2001 is already in, it is part of the knowledge of summation. This seems reasonable. But let’s say 4278123698 + 7124349865 = 11402473563. Is that implied in the idea of sum? Can we say that even though most people today would rather refer to a digital calculator to even try a sum of two 10-digit numbers?

It is like saying that the results of Einstein’s general relativity regarding dark holes or the expansion of the universe are implied in the general relativity in the first place, even though finding such results was a separate job in itself, completely unpredicted by the original author, requiring many man-hours of thought from extremely bright men, and sometimes awarding big prizes and international recognition.

This assumption, although not exactly stated out loud, is present in many philosophical systems. For example, to Peirce every possible way of understanding a word lives inside that word, is part of the nature of the word and, in many ways, is “owned” by the semi-conscious word. Wittgenstein practically almost spells that infinite calculability in the “Tractatus”, saying for example that every “internal” characteristic of a thing is immediately known if you know the thing. Even Eco, which would seem to belong to an “opposed” school of thought, does use this infinite calculability in his “infinite semiosis” approach.

This idea, that the extrapolation of meanings from a given thesis is not a thought-labour in itself, but instead is irrevocable part of the thesis in the first place, reflects the perception that from the thesis to the consequence there is no intervention from an external metaphysical entity. In other words, that when one extrapolates a given theorem one is not receiving grace, one is not being enlightened by anything, it is just plain work.

The Arthur-Clarke law concerning magic, that states that any sufficient advanced technology seems like magic, reflects this: it says that if you don’t understand, you’ll ascribe it to magic. But the idea that magic is not-understandable is only true to scientists. That is, if we didn’t have a prejudice against pseudo-sciences to maintain, we would as easily say that advanced quantum physics is magic.

That is, this idea of pseudo-science says that ideas stand in their own, even if merely interpreting them is so laborious as to require years of study. It is necessary to believe so in order to maintain that science is a neutral, objective, free endeavour. It is necessary to believe in stupid, unreliable, and good-sense-defying notions to sustain the ideology that says that science is not magic. That science is just a fastidious appliance of simple and mundane reasoning.


One Comment

  1. one year and something after, i do not really know what i meant with the last three paragraphs up there, but, oh, well…

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