June 22, 2020
ignoramus et ignorabimusLatin for "we do not know and will not know", like on the limits of scientific knowledge
Einstein, too, was unable to make a clean break with time. "To those of us who believe in physics," he wrote to the widow of a friend who had recently died, "this separation between past, present, and future is only an illusion, if a stubborn one." When his own turn came, a couple of weeks later, he said, "It is time to go."
Mathematical beauty, like the beauty of, say, a late Beethoven quartet, arises from a combination of strangeness and inevitability.
Higher mathematics was invented by the Pythagoreans, a cult whose tenets included the transmigration of souls and the sinfulness of eating beans.
Science is a differential Equation. Religion is a Boundary Condition.
"Well, one day," Wheeler recounts, "I was at the Institute for Advanced Study, and I went to Gödel's office, and there was Gödel. It was winter and Gödel had an electric heater and had his legs wrapped in a blanket. I said, 'Professor Gödel, what connection do you see between your incompleteness theorem and Heisenberg's uncertainty principle?' And Gödel got angry and threw me out of his office."
Truth is what your contemporaries let you get away with.
"[Richard Rorty] also liked to cite Nietzsche’s observation that truth is a surrogate for God. Asking of someone, “Does he love the truth?” Rorty said, is like asking, “Is he saved?”"That last line really struck home for me, since it so mirrors what I've come to realize lately, how my early religious upbringing provides me with a well-nigh unshakable faith in an absolute truth... but the only thing we can know for certain about this truth is that we can never be certain how well we know it.
This kind of steadfast unfaith completely overthrew the more typical religious faith I had had up to that point, kind of like Zeus overthrowing Cronus.
Ya'know... WWI ended in 1918, and WWII started in 1939. That's not a ton of time after "the war to end all wars", like when I think about how long life has felt since Y2K.