Understanding the world

The world is structured and ordered in a very particular way. What we know of it isn’t the way itself. Rather, it is our interpretation and narrative of what we can understand. 

This is similar to the Tao of Eastern philosophy. According to Lao Tzu: “The Way that can be named is not the Eternal Way.”

What we try doing by understanding – mostly through the sciences – is to shine a light on the potentially unknowable. The closer we get to the understanding of all things, the more complicated and in-depth the answers seem to become. 

For instance, one philosophy class I had considered the creation of the Universe in such a way:

Querent 1: The universe was formed during the Big Bang. There was no god necessary.
Querent 2: But what caused the Big Bang?
Querent 1: At the singularity, where all matter was densely gathered, a quantum event caused the matter to explode outward and form the mass and matter of the universe.
Querent 2: So what caused this quantum event?

And so on, and so on…

It’s like the joke of the astrophysicist told by Stephen Hawking in A Brief History of Time:

“A well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russell) once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the center of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy. At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: “What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise.” The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, “What is the tortoise standing on?” “You’re very clever, young man, very clever”, said the old lady. “But it’s turtles all the way down!”

And you know what? Maybe it really is turtles all the way down.


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