The Unknown as an Engine for Science: An Essay on the Definite and the Indefinite (The Frontiers Collection)

The Unknown as an Engine for Science: An Essay on the Definite and the Indefinite (The Frontiers Collection)

Hans J. Pirner

Language: English

Pages: 146

ISBN: 331918508X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The Unknown as an Engine for Science: An Essay on the Definite and the Indefinite (The Frontiers Collection)

Hans J. Pirner

Language: English

Pages: 146

ISBN: 331918508X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


This book explores the limits of our knowledge. The author shows how uncertainty and indefiniteness not only define the borders confining our understanding, but how they feed into the process of discovery and help to push back these borders. Starting with physics the author collects examples from economics, neurophysiology, history, ecology and philosophy.

The first part shows how information helps to reduce indefiniteness. Understanding rests on our ability to find the right context, in which we localize a problem as a point in a network of connections. New elements must be combined with the old parts of the existing complex knowledge system, in order to profit maximally from the information. An attempt is made to quantify the value of information by its ability to reduce indefiniteness.

The second part explains how to handle indefiniteness with methods from fuzzy logic, decision theory, hermeneutics and semiotics. It is not sufficient that the new element appears in an experiment, one also has to find a theoretical reason for its existence. Indefiniteness becomes an engine of science, which gives rise to new ideas.

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and the momentum (momentum = mass times velocity) of a particle cannot be determined simultaneously with unlimited precision. The indeterminacy Δx in the measurement of the particle’s position and the indeterminacy Δp in the measurement of its momentum together obey the inequality Dx  Dp [ h=ð4pÞ where h is Planck’s constant (also known as Planck’s quantum of action by analogy to classical mechanics). Max Planck discovered this fundamental physical constant in 1900 through his observation that

increases the complexity of the system. The indefiniteness of the environment decreases at the same time . . . . . The ratio of processed information (and resulting gain in complexity) to the change in the indefiniteness of the environment yields the Worth of INformation (WIN) . . . . A simple network with 5 nodes and 5 interconnections having the weights g. The weighting function 0 < g < 1 for each interconnection shows the extent to which it is in fact realized. It plays the same role as the

rather, the system reacts to its own states, to stimulation which it experiences itself, in order to convert them into information”.47 He distinguishes between the indefinite complexity and the definite complexity of the system.48 This distinction is carried out differently in my approach, in which I identify the indefinite complexity with the indefinite environment. To be sure, the concept of definite complexity remains a challenge for me; its quantification is still not complete. In the Appendix, I

in the (natural) sciences? Can they encompass essential aspects? Do metaphors open a new access to the search for truth? It is undeniable that metaphors are important for translating concepts from everyday language (natural language) into scientific terminology. The concept of “energy” means “drive” in everyday language, the ability to do something with vigor. In physics, energy refers to motion (kinetic energy) or to the latent ability to perform work (potential energy). The transfer of concepts

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