Monday 21st February - cognitive exercise
Decided to read Stephen Hawkings new book which has been sitting on my bookshelf for a few months. Actually started it last week, but wanted to finish off "Consolations of philosophy".
Wasn't really sure what to expect of this book. I think I imagined an attempt at describing a General Unifying Theory of everything, which he does to a point.
Hawkings is quite philosophical in his new book, reflecting on humanity past and present. I especially appreciated his outlook on religion "Ignorance of nature's ways led people in ancient times to invent gods to lord it over every aspect of human life. There were gods of love and war; of the sun, earth and sky; of the oceans and rivers; of rain and thunderstorms... the effect of cause and effect in nature was invisible to their eyes" highlighting that pre-religion as we know it today, humans saw the forces nature as god itself, sacrificing to it for mercy. Which really does question why humanity has complicated, intellectualised and render other worldly the debt humanity has to nature.
Hawkings talks about Epicurus, Aristotle and The Ionian theories of the period, showing his great admiration for their theorising of a world made from atoms and that the universe is not human centered. Considering the time frame of crica 300BC these are massive leaps of intellectual theorising.
Quite enjoyed his chapter about realism and whether we humans can actually experience reality for what it is? Do our perceptions, out conscious and subconscious minds hinder us from direct experience? Are we really just looking at the world through the lense of a human brain with all it's inherent subjectivity? Can we really know truth?
After the philosophical dabbling which was nice to see mr hawkings considering, I suppose in a more holistic outlook on our reality. He talks about new theoretical ideas being explored by eminent scientists. Mtheory, which is as close as we're going to get to a single unified theory except it's not a single unified theory but a network of theories working together. Which makes alot of sense when you think about it.
Won't go on anymore... Lots of other interesting topics covered.... buy it if an holistic view of reality is your bag...