In this episode of the Making Sense podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Rebecca Goldstein and Max Tegmark about the foundations of human knowledge and morality.
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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Ok, so normal much housekeeping here, just a few words by way of context. This is the audio of the event. I didn't Boston. If you want,
ago with Rebecca Goldstein and MAX tag mark I introduce them both from the stage
to be reminded of who they are in a moment but tat. We focus in this
I'm rotation on the foundations of human knowledge and morale.
They as well. It's really a conversation about
It is then, what matters.
And, as is often the case with live events like this, there were some sound issues. The sounds Deaf
echoing and not perfect, but I think you'll acclimate
lay you'll, find a conversation as interesting, decided and so now give you Rebecca, Goldstein and MAX Tegmark,
Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you for coming out, there has been great guest
I am really looking forward to this conversation. My first guess is a philosopher and a novelist.
She has written about. The relationship between science and religion and
I am, and values and she's. Also just written wonderful books on some famous p
Plato and Spinoza and Kurt Girdle and she's receive many
words including Macarthur fellowship
and the National Humanity's metal from President Obama, please welcome Rebecca goals,
and my second gas is a business at MIT is also professor there.
He's authored more than two hundred technical papers on topics ranging from cosmology to I and he's the president of the.
Future Life Institute, and he is now one of my might go to guess on the park ass. I think this will be his third appearance. If I'm not mistaken, please welcome MAC
egg marked making ok
As I said, I have really been looking forward to this, because these are two people who I can really to dive into the deep into the pool with what
much concerned about whether or not I can swim.
Say that in the in the run, up to this Rebecca sent me an email asking if I
What I wanted to talk about my said something very vague and it
he sent me another email that have. Maybe,
thousand words in it, and it was just the most amazing road map to mine.
Actual life. It's what I want to spend the next ten years. Thinking about so I'm gonna use that very much to guide. This conversation
and MAX hasn't seen. Any of this he's just be terrified, so I won't talk about what we
We know about reality and and why we think we know it, and I want to talk about the parts of reality that that
at her and what makes the matter and whether we have to depart from
scientific rigour in order to talk about anything mattering conversational. Take us too to onto terrain that I love, which is the relationship between facts and values, but to start I want to talk briefly about it. The relationship between science and philosophy,
and ass. I Rebecca like a start with you and just whether their many scientists who have said very disparaging things about philosophies actually actually one who we both know, one heaven
that, within that forty eight hours.
Deprive remain nameless, but his name rhymes with Lawrence Grouse, but are you there?
you repeatedly point out in your work that that science is riddled with philosophy just from from
stemmed the stern and it and that you-
if you are not aware of your thoughts, optical assumptions when doing science you're very likely
making a legitimate claims about
how your science maps on two realities so started off with it, with a little bit on the relationship between science and philosophy, as you say, so
yeah. I sent you these this road map Emmeline I'm trying to situate myself on it. I think that that science is the are our great arbiter and trying to figure out the nature of reality of what is, and I think that
some criminals of science. The amazing trip that it
actually worked out sometime in the seventeenth century was that it gets reality itself to collaborate with us,
because our intuitions are all right, and so our intuitions about space and time
I'm an interpretation and to
reality on all of these very deep, intuitive intuitions, we have to know
to be off under the nature reality itself turns out. Do you know that reality out there exists exactly as is represented to us and our subjective experience is is off, and so
this is an amazing thing that we ve figured out what you do too.
Yet reality to progress
reality, so that it will answer us back when we're getting it wrong. Always do you say
Simultaneity is absolute. Do you? It seems intuitively obvious that you answer either simultaneous with each other or not, regardless of which reference frames
their measured and movie relative to each other. What we'll just see about that
and somehow we pray
reality to two to answer us back and that seems to me: that's that's what science does so any question that weaken
rules about somehow reality itself in kind of
make us around and tell us that we thought me wrong that scientific. What philosophy? I think it is about
is trying to maximize our coherence, we're very compartmentalized creatures. I think, for reasons that science is beginning to tell us why evolutionary psychology is help can tell us why we're such compared
mental ice creatures. We live very happily with our contradictions and its philosophies. Job shoe
He ate our happiness
and that's that
the way of lost me ever since Socrates was
her heart wrongdoing around the Agora in his journey
nor even people getting them showing them the internal contradictions it has a philosophy has:
all of the knowledge that science is giving us about what is about the nature of reality and and test
it against other of our intuitions and see which are compatible which are incompatible. What the options are. So a philosophy is always dependent.
I'm science. A good philosopher, has no has to keep up the science, but its is it.
Fr in kind of skills that that's called for its it's me.
Figuring out how to
describe reality and then and then tell us if it's right or wrong
not merely a matter of being the birthplace of science, because eighty people is often said- and I think I've set myself- that there was a time where, where all questions virtually all questions of interests were philosophical and then was so called natural philosophy burst off these specific sciences.
I think one of your papers, you talk about you, just people in philosophy signalling either we need. We need some more science over here. You know come help us right and that's not that's not what philosophy and then, during the course of asking these
Jones in trying to get our bearings in the world that sometimes philosophers very often we'll put forth Prato scientific questions, the science
and bury the empirical means a prodding reality as getting reality.
To be, our collaborator doesn't exist yet in often it's because the philosophers asked the question.
That the science emerges, it happened with physics, it happen
with biology. It happen with linguistics needs.
It's happening when you know a lot of the fields that
move neurosciences taking over before psychology,
So it is sir so that happens. But I think that that is a that's not where philosophy is about. Philosophy is not about.
Prematurely ejaculate in scientific. That's not returning to do it happens as a kind of accident. You know
and in trying to maximize are coherence.
On that note, a man ass max what he thinks about philosophy. You are quite right. I bid in many visits conferences where someone is some physicists has accused somewhere else being too philosophical, as if that was supposed to be a put down- and I find it absolutely ridiculous to me, philosophy is really a synonym.
Clear and logical thinking, and if you look at the Phd that I haven't asked, what does the p h stand? Foreign? You know. I have news for those grumpy physics, convergence it doesnt than for physics,.
Doktor philosophy bit. Why? Because well, natural philosophy is what the phrase we used to use for it to describe what we now call science, the same thing and so within science itself. We often distinct
did you see em experiment? I guess, in your words, Rebecca you could say, philosophy as the pure theory. We don't do the experiments. We need that, of course, all Syria and no experiment will then he gets there
in theory a bit, you must have a good thing. Also, generally, we ve had the most healthy progress. When we have both,
where are you have those theorists to keep and awaiting makes prevent lists? I can point the unintentional, isn't giving new ideas for things to try new ideas for them to try to shoot down and at the same time you have
these experiments to keep annoying the fairest ruling out their theories at this interplay, which is
we ve been at work. Whenever we had really rate progress, I would say that, because the biggest laugh had ever heard with strings
areas the punchline only in Boston, let's just cut the enemies of philosophy,
a little slack here in that there's a difference
in how we think about intellectual progress. So we say that there's been scientific progress is to say something that really would find no dissenters beside the progress of science is all around us young. How do you think about philosophical progress? What sort of
Joseph. What progress have we made yeah? I'm sure you will say that we have made some and that it should be obvious to us
but we rarely talk as though we're making and have made great progress. Yeah I just by before I just I just want to say you know in my saying that science is
Our best means of answering the question of what is the major reality for me to actually do in view would take me outside of science. I work I would have to put four forth
of all topical argument which I'm very prepared to do.
When there is, there are other views about what science is all about, instrumental less. I mean that its way that scientific theories
never expand our ontology or nature of,
reality of what is, but it's just ignored the means of predicting future experience.
Then it necessary and also there's no reason to think that these theoretical entities that are used in scientific theories really exists that there are fields or quarks her
You know black holes, raising Owen, some very good scientists in the past and and some philosophers as well. You have put forth so
Are you so even hear what it is that science is doing? Science reality can tell
is it instrumental as and where is it.
Was a real as scientific realizing that people depend
on a false Africa dimension,
to make coherent, you know, are what we're getting the input we're getting from from science
So it's just you know too, to hurt you. I can understand how I call them first,
each year is seen as some of our most celebrated or certainly high profile scientists to just really dismiss philosophy. I understand, but their argument is there. I came this one
else can. Nor is our intelligence good for other than figuring out what it is and science that just therefore, in there are questions that we have an answer yet about the nature of reality, but you just
scientists, enough time in research, grants and Anne and we'll get it. But there are other kinds of questions, including what is it that science is?
We, that is doctor, that is not itself assigned to the questions of the Uk
Even make the argument without
wondering and chew on into philosophy here. But what was your real question?
So why actually want to get there? So I want to talk about realism, verses, all of its enemies like like instrumental ism and budget. We just briefly this that it is often thought that we don't make philosophical prom
That's because the same source of problems seem to come around were still,
without reading Plato for thy. Why, if we made,
progress. Why would it? Why would anyone ever read Plato ever again yeah? So if you could just briefly address that point, move onto sprang to her question and one of the arguments that I try to make it stop,
when you read Plato and Aristotle, and you really amazed at how good they were its following the questions, but how bad there
Your answers were, I mean he's, u, no answers have been disposed of and a lot of other things, I think, is that, as we make philosophical progress, science has incorporated in a lot of the arguments about interpretive science. They were really philosophical, browse the distinction between primary and secondary
equality is right, then, are the seventeenth century philosophers. May the primary qualities are the ones that we captured in the language of mathematics. You know, which was the language of
sex and they really exist alpha, I'm so pissed.
This in a moment then and motion and and wait and any anything that can be strident, described and measured in purely mathematical way.
And then you can and subject them to mathematics,
equations and make progress and everything else was depend.
Did it in the mind you know cell to them the way things
look in the way they taste in the way they smell. That was all put into the Mai that this was also Sappho call argument made in the seventeenth century that just sort of became incorporated
into what we think of as a scientific point of view now
it's a beautiful, topical interpretation, but it is also pay and the arguments were philosophy, and it is part of what we think of as a scientific.
You know world a world your now. I think that in general
happens. I think that there has been a lot of progress and I think, particularly in moral philosophy, that these were, moreover, testing our ink
system are moral. Inconsistency is pointing them
making arguments and
moving us forward so that its inconceivable to us. Now when we look back,
slave, only wife.
burning, no, which
stone age family,
How could they not have seen this? Will they didn't see at her and it was false, affable arguments that got us to see it through that? Now it Jesse you, we don't see philosophical progress,
because we see with it it becomes the very levels that we're looking at the world with, and so it become invisible.
So yeah really is the water in which we swim, intellectually, and- and I won't talk about real ism, which can be defined in
in a few different ways by where I think about it. What are you talking about scientific realism
more moral, realism or even introspective realism distribute the trying to figure out what its LE actually like to be you and each moment its thick
claim that there are truths
whether you know them are not right, thirty, its past,
it will be right or wrong about the nature of reality and its possible to now.
I know what you're missing, there's an appearance. Reality distinction where you're trying to get behind appearances and science is arguably the most rigorous place when we try to get behind appearances, or that were certainly has a more rigorous methodology max. How do you think about the disappearance in reality? Distinction?
as a physicist and cosmopolitan. How do I think, but real ism, yeah yeah nobody? What do you think size is doing because a as Rebecca said there then there's? You can spend a lot of time as a scientist, reconciling yourself to being an instrumental list
she's just below the math works out with their deck the result of experiments, but who knows what were actually probing into what were? Who knows what are really looks? Like one thing, I know
I am quite surprised by over the years, actually is how many am many scientists to incur, even though many credibly intelligence bunch of people to come to tiredly opposing views on.
Without legal matters and often when you probably little bit deeper, it's because you quite naive about an haven't, even bothered understanding in other various opposing points of view and because it is miss all this is true for Africa, but then they have long closet philosophy that they don't don't call a philosophy that basically haven't thought through, and some scientists take. This very instrumental point.
New that hey who cares about. If there's an ultimate reality or not them, we should just focus on now building guy. Just that work can someone? That's I guess it s really. Does the preferences at matter interests some people like chocolate, ice cream? Some people prefer
a very low if someone doesn't care what exists, but I do. I find it absolutely fascinating. Is this this deep curiosity to try to understand more about the cosmos we live in? That made me want to be a scientist, then there's a second school of dissent in are not the ones who say I don't care about reality. Reality is, but that deny
existence at some level. You get people whose who deny what I call the external reality hypothesis, this hypothesis there actually is,
an external reality independent of us humans. Of course, you get some extreme folks like selfless sources would say that nothing else
their hand, exists there, there's one another to say it, but
but you also get feed very famous people like Niels born one of the founding fathers agronomic
they said no reality without observation about quantum theory which, when you think about it, means that.
Humans are observing that somehow make things real and destiny feels extremely arrogant to have to say no offense to you. Folks. Are you folks what I'm pretty sure there?
all of us disappeared. The Andromeda Galaxy would happily keep doing its thing and refused to me more or less of it, like less than I thought, through really scientific position or philosophical position, and would like to see a continuation of this year.
Numerous but set us back in so many other ways, and we used to be so obsessive about earth being the center of the solar system, man, denying that the other day could be other solar systems. We ve been burnt it on a room at the stake forty years ago. For the first say that, and then decide
our resistance is a video baby, parallel universes. Also. This idea that somewhere, so special about the animals are slaves or whatever. So now, when we set out with a special their reality couldn't exist without us. I think it's silly, but it's a viewpoint I encounter quite a bit still in their in some sign. The interesting thing is increasing. Philosophical education was part of scientific education. They would find these kinds of viewpoints having been put forth. I need Bishop Barclay. Nothing could be nothing exists unless you perceive it
putting forth these views and other people were criticising them if it's a whole long history were these, things have been argued out and its weaknesses explored, and you know interests would be good. I would be so stupid of me. I saw
he knows and as a non biologists to think that I'm just gonna charge
Jan and say what's wrong with you know, evolution
biology or something without without educating myself. Fear is a just the which of these views and
argued out and hammered out in their strong points in their weak points.
Are you waited, and since physics and all science raises these philosophical questions, boy not study the fleet exactly? But you see, this is precisely where this and by philosophical snobbery comes in is a psychological defence mechanism, because these scientists will say well, I do philosophy, I think, philosophies stupid, and then they were charging and talk about all this was ethical questions make up their own nonsense
the terms for things that philosophers have discussed hundreds of years and completely ignore everything has been done and effective aid. What they're doing it is bad uninformed philosophy I am yes and they justify themselves by saying is on the philosophy, is somehow stupid. Never think they philosophy can be a belated, not just
by scientists brought by all humans, I mean I in fact thinking a one way or another. We are all trying to
our bearings than the world figure out what is and what matters. And then you can't avoid some kind of philosophy in doing that, I think that Europe
the thing human young. Unfortunately, there are impressive reasons to be sceptical that were good it doing any of that yeah yeah, and this is not just saved or the the outcomes we see around us. It's it's that if you do, if you take an evolutionary perspective, if you take the perspective of evolutionary psychology,
It's pretty clear that there are two inconvenient facts are one reality wasn't designed with us in mind. It wasn't designed so as to be perfectly interpreted by us
and that's provided were not living in a simulation that was run by
the Mormons who actually conquer the world. At some point, I am waiting to find that out this morning
there is in fact, true, and this simulation and everything I've been saying, is timely to help. There is also the fact
We have not evolved our cognitive tool kit, our international talk it and when will talk about the primacy of intuition and moment has not at it hasn't
to end up by evolution to track reality ass. It is just that
this sort of apes. We are aware I have- and I think that's very astute what you're saying this and because the one of the reasons that has caused the love, curmudgeon scientists again and again, dismissed philosophers and often dismissed even other scientists like where the erratic over the taste
Science was precisely by saying: are these ideas are too weird and when they couldn't refute them with experiment, they were to feed them. I say that's not science, and but what that really meant saying that it was too weird if he reinterpret that sentence in the context of evolutionary psychology
He meant that you'll. Obviously, as you said, we evolved our brains to have intuition for the things that we use of our ancestors. I'd like how to hurl rocks the people and not get hit by the parabolic motions is up
we had no intuition whatsoever for anything. There wasn't useful to them like things moving much faster than us near the speed of light or things much smaller than us like want them particles. So what what evolution? Actually pretty? Click for science is that whenever we use Tec to see things that answer
it had, no access to it should seem weird. It should challenge are very notion of what the boundaries of science are. It should probably forces even to redefine from time to time what we mean by science, someone could stand and that as a people who are being dismissive like those of a things just because you say there too, where this is not science, what you philosophical, really denying the fact that there are about AIDS and and that their taking this evolved evolution, Mary notion of what's intuitive and what's weird, but are complaining that was somehow truth wasn't exactly appointed. We hid in a previous passport is worth reiterating.
You, you would be suspicious of any file description of reality that was commonsensical Olympic, though we know our common sense isn't fitted to time frames in billions of years or to the poor.
Scale or anything else? It is at the frontier of your discipline, Zack and common sense. We should assume a resolution that its and simply being
full approximation for their very limited Domin, a reality that we had access to without microscopes or telescopes a particle lighters or any modern tech. Yet so that, of course, eminent persons is come to fire. We could never go back to something that
common sense, a call, I mean relativity theory, you knows general relativity theory, quantum mechanics
It's already blown our minds right, and so we we know that we have any does not correspond some of our deepest intuitions about space and time and causality
He lay there they ve already been. You know, they're gone,
so anyone who smoke one back except for those people who believe it all
This has created by a person just like us who doesn't like homosexual.
We have an end, I guess that's Emmy. You said that there are too great
obstacles to are understanding
sure reality. What is and what matters I mean through those are the two big questions and
You know when one is that, yes, obviously unless, unless this world a world
created by some designer who made sure that our
native abilities are up to the task, not much evidence for that year, this world,
the laws of nature. Are they were not designed with our common penalties and capacities
in mine, and so it's amazing to me on women
people talk about all that. We don't know, I'm not amazed by that. Having been said, we know anything,
given that we are these about AIDS and the other thing that keeps us and here,
about moral knowledge that keeps us from understanding nature of certain
aspects of reality, including rural reality, is sir
our own self involvement
our own way of privileged meaning are our self and and those we love.
Our cannot drive all of that, and so
That also is a tremendous obstacle in terms of weak. We made very slow moral progress. We have made it better
its there is a real and there it's not getting reality to answer us back. It's more of looking at the various things we believe in
in the internal inconsistency. So we ve got science to this great thing of just you know
We need reality answers back, Austria wasn't created with our with occupants
there is a mine, so we develop this decided. The tools- and I feel philosophy- is these other different set of tools, thought experiments and forcing people
to put all their premises out on the table, digging their male going further further, whether the presumptions of your belief and the end game of fat,
two omby Amby back, the aim is to show its powers are or inconsistencies are internal and cohesion,
seize, and we don't like that I'd. That's really! That's better! Saving! Great swiftly, if you we fuck, I'm all sorts of ways of denying that we are internally inconsistent because usually working toward band AIDS to deny these
societies, but if you really keep hammering out of your push people's faces into eventually they give it up.
And I think that a different kind of reason, not science, a different kind of reasoning activity, and it also helps us to make progress.
Tumbling to consider just how ill prepared we are for our modern circumstanced by evolution. When you think of something is a simple.
And, as obviously evolved and is as funds
mental towards survival is as pain like. So it's weird
we obviously evolved to feel pain, but we have not evolve.
Of two cents pain in a way that is especially useful in a modern contacts. For instance, you can, you can feel it
Scruciating pain or be less serious
Lee inconvenience by having an eyelash in your eye right, which is means nothing, but you can. Your body can be riddled with cancer and you feel no pain at all, because we have not evolved and a condition with an on and hospitals, and but it would be very useful to feel pain associated with care
certain service, the detective early, there's almost certainly intellectual equivalence too, that sort of disability where it would be for it would be so much nicer to be able to do something intuitively or effortlessly. That is in some way crucial to the whole, enter
rise you're at the frontier of thinking about a I and, as it were now talk about the prospect of
Better than our own. At doing some of these things, do you spent eight times the worrying that there are certain questions that can be posed that are interesting but take string theory as an example to string theory, just a intellectual dead end that his absorb the careers.
We now have a full generation of physicist won't be able to make any enemies here. But if not string theory is due worry that there is something very much like that, where we are just plain with tools that are to blunt or not shape to appropriately for that corner of the universe, and let me say to you:
things, first about string theory and then then, more broadly about what we can and cannot do.
Of our minds for string theory, even though.
Talking about an earlier and even those cells and on the big bang theory is broken up with three very normal spoiling for anyone hasn't seen that episode. Yet the fact of the matter is a most does this today, who say they work? No string. Theory are actually working on much more broad questions, fundamental theoretical physics in its stringy. This been kind of thing. They call themselves the sort of heaven
community and get jobs, but that this one, I guess, if there was anything or nothing on earth, is a strange and I think, there's a lot of promising avenues in there. For sure that does mean every physicist should work on and obviously but it's good to takes swings with offences impact on the broader question about
them. Where we can and cannot do without might, I think, is an antidote. We had a lot of mega.
Every year by were lamenting evolution as limited us. So much like this, we can't get intuition for this and we know good. Wouldn't it be great if we could have better pain, sensors with the flip side of that is, I think, there's a lot. We can be very grateful for also that works remarkably well,
And then, as is you said, that in the way worked way better than expectation
a kind of a miracle that it works as well done. Its work at the chimps in the camps are not doing much of anything. It is that the first all, if you think about what we want, we actually evolve for our our bodies, haven't of all that much in the past two thousand years, but yet would living lifestyle that were sitting where the big giant wooden stone box with
We are artificial sons here and strange stuff on our body,
everything is about. We spend large saxonism angles and about maybe I'll lose her one. Second, I want to remedy this problem because
civilization is not working as well as the
Is this be the first time so well, but on the other hand, the optimistic side
First of all is remarkable how it, after all, we are at a second, I do think, didn't it's actually.
Really remarkable how much better we ve been.
Able to do with science than nor might have thought.
We are actually the masters of underestimation, of ink loose somewhere
what we ve learned from science in the past. Many thousands of years first remind me, of course, underestimated
the size of reality and everything we thought existed with just a small part of a much grander structure by the planet. The solar system, a galaxy jealousy cluster universe, maybe more but more fundamentally, we ve also underestimated our own potential in humans.
You're out our world thinking even Plato and Aristotle, with its own we're trying to understand who bit of physics they almost everything was mysterious and they were just a few things. They thought they
find some formalism regularities for like motion, and then it turned out. That was also completely wrong when I was delighted that fifty hundred year nor gelli fixed it, and yet today we can, with TAT
and around and note that actually works
LEO. He could have a great bananas or not and tell you how they would move you through the night, but he couldn't tell you why the Greek was green in the hidden was brown and why the grape or soft amazement was hard. Now we can answer all of those questions with electromagnetism with quantum mechanics and we have managed to bring it into the main of science, almost all aspects of the physical world now, except for consciousness and intelligence, and the continuing just on the optimistic gratitude side of this. This understanding has been wonderful, not just for side displaying or philosophical curiosity
but it's precisely this deeper understanding, which is, of course given us, the technology which is transformed our lives as where life expectancy isn't thirty five anymore, and I M so
Even though yeah it kind of sucks
done in that area that evolution as that's the Tec Mark quote, I want on Twitter,
kind of stocks that I'm so down.
Actually, things were not mysterious to Aristotle. That was the problem. I mean he had a complete world view that seem to answer everything, but it is just not wrong. It was a completely.
Wrong, a methodology of explanation has truly ology was at its centre. I mean the incredible thing that happened in the seventeenth century with Galileo and then even more with Newton is that this marriage
mathematics where empirical observation am prediction, Missis
stronger. There is nothing at all intuitively off. The idea that you take this forward.
A priori mathematics, it's not it's a priori. It's not
all dependent on experience right. It's completely deductive. I knew merrier two observations and, and you get this powerful,
methodology for exploring reality and for four Aristotle,
Oh you know, the quantitative was just one of the ten categories of description which were will knock
Very very important: it was all teleology what what process
have an end, and we understand a process, a physical process, all processes
by understanding what is supposed to be accomplished. So, whether you know it was a way of explaining what is it
and so you know it was so relieved science
We haven't been at work and science, I would say for thousands of years. I think women work in this assembly
century, so it even more me is faced, make us a little bit about. You said I reckon I think this is also tribute. The modern philosophy were the key word. I think humility, the idea that to get things right, we first have to be open to the idea that we might be wrong and actually question everything in particular question around prejudices and that's what was really missing. Aristotle's time.
And once we can use this idea that not only where we often wrong- and it was a good idea to question it. But often when we questioned ourselves that precisely when we were able to get Drake great new breakthroughs, which helped.
I should in the modern revolution, the renaissance, science and other tell you know it.
Is the great. I mean you're right, there's a kind of collective humility, I think in both science and in philosophy, which very fortunately doesn't require that the actual practitioners humble
sorry to turn over there. You really think I did ask me I, but that there is a kind of collective humility, and I am so. I often think of me. The deaf wary definition of some of my being scientists is that I would rather have questions. I can't answer than answers. I can't question so I won't talk about the concept of possibility. Much of what we talk about in our personal lives and in science and in philosophy takes us an assumption that there is a world of possibility to talk about counterfactual things that might have been different makes sense to talk about certain things that
could have happened, but in fact, didn't happen. What gives us licence to say that we might have done this event yesterday, as opposed to today, and is necessarily a scientifically or philosophically meaningful statement? I guess that there too views in philosophy answer and science that seem on their surface. To be almost the same. I have different origins. I wanted you to to describe was called modal realism in philosophy, and I wanted to connect that up with this picture of the many worlds interpretation of key when an than just talk a little bit about what it means to two things:
possibility, because my default setting now is that it may not make any sense at all the talk about possible. What
actual is in fact all there is and ever is and never will be, and that possibility is just a fiction that we have spun in our conversation about what is in fact unfolding
We're seems gambling, you're brings them a brings the modal realism, and there s the next will be better about more realizing. How can he believed in it, and I don't you dare to use that word, for it are you're the one card, Jerry Philosophy for than I ever since
and then I could explain what I mean yeah, but if you lately speaking, take it to mean that everything that could exist does exist. I find that it's interesting idea, but is about to which he was to be really scientifically testable and them where the very sad there is a physical that give you some kind of multi verse, whether it be distant regions of space,
They haven't reaches from your teacher predicted by some versions of inflation, gave us a big bang or or the ones of Quantum mechanics, sir, or something else, those are more restrictive anyway. It's not like everything I could think about after I had too much wine exists, but rather, if you have some particular equations physics have the solution. If they have another solution to, maybe that exists. That's the Canon of alternative realities that these theories can be given. But the shocking thing is that those alternative really is still those cases very many and respond as a lot of people. So, for example, my colleagues do here- and am I t here when he and others came up against inflation theory, which is them
popular mainstream theory of science right now, for what cause they're big Bang would, it basically says, is YAP, took something more than another minute if kept doubling its eyes over and over and over again until it was vastly larger than all the space that we can see, that we call our universe, and it also predicts that all this other spaces of cattle uniformly fill the stuff. Initially, we know that in the neck of the woods that stuff those items and so on gradually collected the form. Among other places, the meal
you, a galaxy, our solar system and somehow, I suspect, recognizes the enemy in you, and here we are in a, but we know that the probability that this would happen in some random place isn't zero because it happened here, an inflation typically predicts. You actually have an infinite amount of other places with stuff, so sure all the dice infinitely many times course it's gonna happen again, and the shocking prediction is then that if we go far enough away, you're gonna jump to another place, whether this identical com.
Station is taking place before the first. When you come to the person wearing the red sweater is not gonna, be, is gonna, be named MAX Schneck Mark Guineas. Can we speak me some incomprehensible, different language whatever, but you're far enough, you're even find someone, you speak English and has the same
we very disturbing notions, but you can't this message: fire the saying it
how do we are right now? The way this method would be to falsify the physics very elegant equations, and there are people building, experiments right now, try to fall to fire to test the better and that's how we're automatic sorted out not by heavy prejudice about a young here, so that the philosophy
was argued very strongly for modal realise and was David. Will ya,
Did you know,
did you know when I was a graduate student Princeton. He was. He was actually on my Dissipations Committee,
and yeah. I won't pry any further than
we are well Price- is very good and very soon I heard I never met him, but I used it was a very smart. He was a formidable philosopher and a very sweet man. I'm actually met very strong mental image right now. He had I train set in
space man and he would only take people be like very much down. I did get down there, one
every train sat material and it was that's how you gonna come about that I base
anyway yeah you really stole the thunder from this data. Must we get it? We can edit that out under back again, but anyway Winnie when he was running the trains Eddie put on the civil engineering cap and
Cute data press law right better, but, yes, he took you know very very seriously what he had a way you? U S,
a meaningful to talk about you know had had I not gone to college
and I would not now be a philosopher or something you know. What are the truth can
sense of that. How do you figure that out in the wings,
Yet it was by real fine
possible worlds and say
You know that there are a whole bunch of possible worlds in me really exist and you
the nearest possible world in which I didn't go
the college, and you check it out. You know we can check it out, but what would make it true raised? If that antecedents, you know were
Through what I not be a philosopher right, are you not letting go to college and there was enough
ass, fairer than I'd, be a millionaire and our something when you go to the nearest possible world, so he really, he really chop possible worlds very, very seriously in order to formulate what he took too
the truth. Conditions forget the motor manufacturers them he got there for none
These products only reasons that that MAX just now it was about
it was. The regional counterfactual makes sense right. We understand man, you know,
I hope you haven't call me right, then you know, would have miss the most important phone call of my life.
For something you know. We say these things all the time and we are and they seem meaningful, how what are the truth conditions and he thought that the only way to do it was to say that all these various possible worlds, in some sense really
first and foremost a when I didn't get hit by that truck
this morning, which was a very near a I. There is a counterpart in a very close possible world of me who did get
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Transcript generated on 2020-03-23.