Is science arbitrary ?

Science is a system of arbitrary symbols and interactions dependent on a mind interacting with the universe.

Imagine a mind A, having a completely different cognitive organization (memory, emotions, sense organs, thought processes) etc. This mind
would interact with reality according to a completely different set of rules
from our science, but as such it would always be completely coherent and valid for mind A. Thus a completely different and new science would be valid for mind A.
Therefore changining mind structures you can create an infinite number of
different sciences.

This came up when analyzing what would happen if we started to modify how our neurons are hard-wired and in general any degree of physical and direct modification of the brain - mind. This also comes up when considering an eventual alien species that is organized differently.

In fact our mind H has a science in which to describe and explain being A, while mind A has his science in which to describe and explain being H. Which is the correct description ?
Both because science becomes a system of arbitrary symbols and interactions dependent on the mind structure using the given science.

I am considering the system Mind + Reality (or universe). Mind has always been fixed. Our neural circuits, language, logic is fixed and with this fixed system we interact and discover reality and science. What happens if the Mind changes (different circuits). The system Mind + Universe changes. At that point it is hard to imagine the impossible, but a different Mind will see this same reality differently. And in this sense will create a different science or interpretation or maybe even live a different experience. We obviously cannot know because everything is filtered with our single mind, but a different mind can develop a different science altogether. And not a wrong science but different. Do they have atoms ? maybe not because maybe they associate a tree with a cloud as one thing that may have use and meaning in their view of the world. Being that there are trillions of different ways minds may be designed, there are trillions of different universes and sciences.

The real problem is not 1+1 but if a differently organized mind even has the concept of one or any mathematical concept at all. Maybe they would use a completely different logic, maybe this mind doesn’t have the concept larger or smaller or sees discrete entities, and maybe it could still be very intelligent and complex. It is quite abstract, but the only way to start discovering would be to directly start modifying our neural circuits; I don’t think there are many scientists who would want to start modifying their own brains…

Another similar problem that came to thought was, if another species evolved having complete control over their environment and a near infinite degree of manipulation of reality and had all this without having evolved through scientific investigation (maybe innate with instinct) they would not ever know that there is a science and formulas because they would never need them … I think this is an even stranger situation …

it all depends on how you define science. if science is an artefact of the human mind, then it is arbitrary. if science is a transcedent then it is not an arbitrary but a transcedent, but you have the unsavory problem of expalining why should anyone bother with a transcedent, and how can a transcedent manifest to the experience of humans.

The point is that direct “physical” modification of our neural circuits is not so far off, since there are so many possible ways to design minds, this would correspond to an equally large number of ways to percieve the world. This means that there are an infinite number of sciences+universe+experiences…

consider an analogy. direct physical manipulation/modification of the circuitry inside a computer processor is not that far off either. in fact its a daily occurence, we produce the damned things.

however they are still numeric processors, and are still equivalent to a transistor system, and still rely on the fundamental opperational logic. no ammount of tinkering with the processor designs has insofar altered logic one bit, and it is reasonable to suspect no ammount of tinkering with the human brain will alter logic much more. more importantly, if it does it is unlikely anyone could notice, just as no matter how we program a computer it is impossible to decide from inside the program what the program is.

i also submit that physical modifications of the human intellect have been around forever in the form of mental disorders with a physical basis and psychoactive substances. i have yet to see any modification of science due to either.

We can not know ahead of time, the experience of a modified mind. Our science will always be valid and in fact we would modify the circuits according to our science and what we think the effects would be. But in the long run after a long technological evolution we may end up with completely different minds from which the world view could be completely different.

If you get out of our mind set and imagine to be within an alien mind set you would see things from their view which could be radically different and not incorrect be equally valid. I mean the alien mind could have a different organization such as memory and emotions and may not even use mathematics. Their mind is as valid as ours. Our mind is only one possible organzation and one possible science.

Humans start modifying their own minds by creating new and different neural connections. New sense organs, new mixtures between sense organs, memories (even messed up fast forward backwards memories; who knows…) new emotional states new mental organizations, virtual realities, chip implants , again there is no limit (this thing is aka “technological singularity”). The subjective experience of this mind (or minds or civilization because this may end up as a solid state civilization with the difference between a single mind and multiple minds dissappearing) can be wildly different from ours. Their science may have some relation with ours or even no relation whatsoever. I really think these minds would search in the directions of greater mental and spiritual experiences, emotions or pleasure or something like that. It is an unkown.

Imagine a species that evolved having as fundamental to their mind partial differential equations. They would use this mathematics without ever noticing it, hence they may not even know they had this ability. In this case mathematical physics would mostly all be solved automatically for them. We could say this species has a more evolved mind but we know they are using PDEs as the fundamental logic element in their mind. Now that would be a case where a less evolved mind knows more than a more evolved mind. So an insect maybe knows more than us ? This would also represent a “hidden layer” (like in the thread hidden layer in the universe) to this alien mind.

In general we could say that the science a species produces is dependent on the obstacles it has to overcome. If they had everything available to them, they would never even know science exists. If they had some capabilities but not others, those capabilites they had would be taken for granted (I am thinking of a species that had our CPUs already evolved in their mind). The combinations are endless and the problems are quite strange and far fetched.

Mine is a question. The question is "who knows if there are other possible minds and therefore universes as seen from these minds ". You say no “matter how they are wired”. So you can imagine all the possible ways a mind can be “wired” ? Can you know ahead of time all the possible ways this modified mind can think ? You are assuming then that our mind is a kind of superset of all possible minds and can explain, decode and understand any other possible mind. I don’t think we can assume this. I don’t know what happens inside minds wired differently. I know for sure that the number of possible combinations of different minds is mind boggling and if each mind is completely different from ours and actually works in some way, then we actually know almost nothing of reality or the universe.

It may also be the case, as you seem to suggest that any possible modification to our neural circuits “degrades” the functioning of the mind and our mind is the ultimate and only possible mind the universe will ever achieve. Even this conclusion is quite strange and creates a host of other “evolutionary” problems such as implying that our species has achieved in one shot the maximum possible evolution conceivable…(or mind conceivable)

It may well be true, or it cannot be precluded, that there can be other minds. But this is irrelevant to us, as it may be entirely unknowable to us. (For example dogs may see a different universe, but they cant speak their mind, and neither can we read it.) The more relevant thing to wonder is that apparently we all have the same Mind, despite being different individuals, for the whole of humankind have one science, that is intelligible to all.

It will become relevant when we start modifying our neural crcuits. Many roads will lead to nowhere but many will lead to completely new universes…
Think in the year 10,000 or the year 123,655 … Technological singularity achieved and the goal of matter will have been achieved.

Can I? Is it even a meaningful thing to say even less think? I can hardly think what I think the next moment … :astonished:

nameta9, you are assuming that we can modify the brain in such a way that we can qualitatively alter the nature of experience. I don’t think neuroscience is at a place yet where it can even say such a thing is possible. We don’t know what the limitations of neural rewiring will be–and until we do, the kind of speculation you are trying to do is impossible.

This reminds me of something A.J. Ayer wrote:

I’m not sure we have to use our imaginations much here. Mathematical prodigies are notoriously bad math teachers for this very reason. They can take leaps of intuition that bypass many of the rules and reasoning processes the rest of us depend on. Since they have no use for these things, they find it difficult to relate to those of us who do. So in a sense, mathematics is very much conventional…based on the shared limitations of a majority of minds.

However, even the most brilliant mathematician understands simple concepts–for instance, that four things multiplied eight times make thirty-two things. I cannot imagine an intelligent being for whom this is not true. Perhaps that is just a limitation of my own mind, but all philosophical speculation is subject to such limitations. So it is philosophically irrelevant to talk about a being for whom concrete mathematical truths are somehow untrue.

Are you saying they are omniscient in some way? How could such beings possibly evolve? I don’t see the significance of this example.

Experience would not fundamentally change in a being that evolves the equivalent of a very fast CPU. There would still be the subject-object relation, and the scientific method would still apply. They would just do science at an incomprehensibly fast pace. The same is true for your other examples:

…none of these are examples of qualitatively altered experience. You still have sensibility, you still have subjects and objects, and you still have learning that occurs through experience. I’m just not sure what problems you think these alterations would create that have not been raised before by philosophers.

Lastly, I don’t think science is arbitrary at all. It is hardwired into our brains to do science, and science plays a significant part in our survival. It certainly rests on unprovable assumptions, but our genes have decreed that we will make those assumptions whether or not we can justify them. Science is no more arbitrary than a snake shedding its skin.

(In response to the original post)

The modification of the brain would not be completely arbitrary. We would not make an infinite variety of modifications. We would make modifications with purposes and goals. We would have a clear ambitions and motivation for brain modification.

So we might invent a few different types of brains that perceive the universe differently, but not a huge number of different types. Unless we found a reason why it was advantageous to do that.

There is another way to think about the original subject line question, “Is science arbitrary?” We could ask, “Is any human behavior arbitrary?”

I would say that human behavior is not arbitrary. So anything we do will be purposeful. (It may not be sensible or logical.) Likewise everything that we create will be purposeful. (It may be erroneous, flawed, or worthless, but none the less was created with some kind of purpose.)