Human intelligence: have we reached the limit of knowledge?

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Human intelligence: have we reached the limit of knowledge?
We know that pigs or dogs will never understand prime numbers. Some philosophers think that concepts like consciousness are similarly inaccessible to humans.


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Science providing anwers

Science providing anwers

Despite the advances in science over the past century, our understanding of nature is still limited. Scientists still don't know what the vast majority of the universe is made up of or how cons...


Mysterian arguments

"Mysterian" thinkers give an important role to biological arguments and analogies.

Late philosopher Jerry Fodor argued that there are bound to be thoughts we are unable to think. ...


Mysterians and pessimism

Mysterians present the question of cognitive limits in fixed terms: either we can solve a problem, or we will never be able to.

A possibility that eludes mysterians is one of slowly diminis...


An optimistic view

Even if we do find the answers to the mysteries, we still have to understand the meaning of the answer. Quantum physicist Richard Feynman admitted that "nobody understands quantum mechanics.&q...


Mind extensions

To consider if our small brains can really answer all conceivable questions and understand all problems, we have to understand the human's ability to make tools.

  • Our sense organs...


Cumulative knowledge

What makes humans unique is that we are capable of cumulative cultural knowledge. Many human minds are much smarter than any individual brain.

No single scientist would be able to unravel t...


Turning the tables

If mysterians claim that some problems will never be solvable, they have to show in some detail why no possible combination of mind extension devices will bring us any closer to a solution.



Consciousness And Quantum Physics

Consciousness And Quantum Physics

Understanding consciousness and how it fits in the universe is a perennial puzzle for decades. Some call it the holy grail of science.

Quantum physics is able to describe the atomic and...

The Observer Effect

Modern science is hesitant to talk about consciousness due to it opening a pandora’s box, putting their previously ‘bulletproof’ theories under suspicion.

Quantum Theory had a similar ‘uh oh’ moment when it was found that the behaviour of atomic level particles changes when we (a conscious observer) are looking at it, or not. This is known as the Observer Effect.

Objectivity Vs Consciousness

Physicists argue that objectivity might as well be an illusion, and consciousness has to be put in the picture of its worldview.

The two puzzles of Science, Consciousness and Quantum Mechanics, might as well be closely related, with one arising because of the other.

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Insights of Albert Einstein

Insights of Albert Einstein

Many insights of Albert Einstein are now part of popular imagination: black holes, time warps, and wormholes show up in movies and books.

Less famous, but probably the most revolutionary pa...

Some changes don't change anything

The most fundamental aspects of nature stay the same.

For example, Einstein's papers on relativity show that the relationship between energy and mass is invariant, even though energy and mass can take on many different forms.

Even though matter produces energy, the energy-matter content of the universe never changes. Matter and energy are less fundamental than the underlying relationship between them.

Relationships over things

We often think of things as the heart of reality. But most often the relationship is more important, not the stuff.

We may think "stuff" like space and time are unchangeable aspects of nature. In reality, the relationship between space and time stays the same.

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The Hard Problem of Consciousness

The Hard Problem of Consciousness

Consciousness could be described as the feeling of being inside your head, looking out, or of having a soul.

How we learn, store memories, or perceive things, are easy prob...

Between Science And Philosophy

The problems of consciousness straddle the border between science and philosophy.

  • Some argue that conscious sensations, such as pain, don't really exist, others, that plants and trees must also be conscious.
  • A handful of neuroscientists have come to believe that the problem is about to be solved if we are willing to accept the conclusion that computers or the internet might soon become conscious too.

Ignoring The Problem

Science has been trying to ignore the problem of consciousness for a long time.

  • In the 1600s, René Descartes declared that nothing is more obvious and undeniable than the fact that we are conscious. Your consciousness can't be a fantasy. At the same time, your consciousness does not obey any of the usual rules of science. It doesn't seem to be physical. It can't be observed or really described. Descartes concluded that it had been bequeathed to us by God.
  • This Cartesian dualism remained the assumption into the 18th century. But it was unacceptable to the secular scientist that took the position that only physical things exist.
  • As late as 1989, the British psychologist Stuart Sutherland declared that it is impossible to specify what consciousness is, what it does, or why it evolved.
  • In 1990 Francis Crick and Christof Kock mentioned in a paper that most of the work in both cognitive and neurosciences makes no reference to consciousness because most don't know of a useful way of approaching the problem.

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