Tag Archive: World 3

The corroboration of facts

While no evidence can be conclusive, we seem to be inclined to accept something (whose existence has been conjec­tured) as actually existing if its existence is corroborated; for example, by the discovery of effects that we would expect to find if it did exist. However, we may say that this corroboration indicates first, that something is there; at least the fact of this corroboration will have to be explained by any future theory. Secondly, the corroboration indicates that the theory that involves the conjectured real entities may be true, or that it may be near to the truth (that it has a good degree of verisimilitude). [10]

When is something “real”?

I suggest that the entities which we conjecture to be real should be able to exert a causal effect upon the prima facie real things of an ordinary size: that we can explain changes in the ordinary material world of things by the causal effects of entities conjectured to be real. [9]

Understanding is reconstruction

What I suggest is that we can grasp a theory only by trying to reinvent it or to reconstruct it, and by trying out, with the help of our imagination, all the consequences of the theory which seem to us to be interesting and important.

Understanding is an active process, not just a process of merely staring at a thing and waiting for enlightenment. One could say that the process of understanding and the process of the actual production or discovery of World 3 objects are very much alike. [461]

Things that exist nowhere

World 3 is the world of the products of the human mind. These products, in the course of evolution, were first probably encoded only in the human brain and even there only in a fleeting way. That is to say, if an early man told a story of a hunt, or something like that, then the story would be both encoded in his brain and in the brains of his listeners, but it would soon be forgotten and in a sense disappear. The more characteristic objects of World 3 are objects which are more lasting. They are, for example, early works of art, cave paintings, decorated instruments, decorated tools, boats, and similar World 1 objects. At that stage there is perhaps not yet a need to postulate a separate World 3. The need arises, however, when it comes to such things as works of literature, theories, problems, and, most clearly of all, such things as, for example, musical compositions. A musical composition has a very strange sort of existence. Certainly it at first exists encoded in the musican’s head, but it will probably not even exist there as a totality, but, rather, as a sequence of efforts or attempts; and whether the composer does or does not retain a total score of the composition in his memory is in a sense not really essential to the question of the existence of the composition once it has been written down. But the written-down encoding is not identical with the composition – say, a symphony. For the symphony is something acoustic and the written-down encoding is obviously merely conventionally and arbitrarily related to the acoustic ideas which this written-down encoding tries to incorporate and to bring into a more stable and lasting form. So here there already arises a problem. Let us pose the problem in the following way. Clearly, Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony is neither the score he wrote, which is only a kind of conventional and arbitrarily coded statement of the symphony; nor is it the sum total of the imagined acoustic experiences Mozart had while writing the symphony. Nor is it any of the performances. Nor is it all performances together, nor the class of all possible performances. This is seen from the fact that performances may be good or less good, but that no performance can really be described as ideal. … In that sense the World 3 object is a real ideal object which exists, but exists nowhere, and whose existence is somehow the potentiality of its being reinterpreted by human minds. [449-50]

Letting our theories die in our stead

As opposed to this, traditional epistemology is interested in the second world [World 2]: in knowledge as a certain kind of belief—justifiable belief, such as belief based upon perception. As a consequence, this kind of belief philosophy cannot explain (and dos not even try to explain) the decisive phenomenon that scientists criticize their theories and so kill them. Scientists try to eliminate their false theories, they try to let them die in their stead. The believer—whether animal or man—perishes with his false beliefs.[122]

The most striking fact of evolution

What I regard as the most important point is not the sheer autonomy and anonymity of the third world, or the admittely very important point that was always owe almost everything to our predecessors and to the tradtion which they created: that we thus owe to the third world especially our rationality — that is, our subjective mind, the practice of critical and self-critical ways of thinking and the corresponding dispositions. More important than all this, I suggest, is the relation between ourselves and our work, and what can be gained for us from this relation.

[…] I suggest that everything depends upon the give-and-take between ourselves and our work; upon the product which we contribute to the third world, and upon that constant feed-back that can be amplified by conscious self-criticism. The incredible thing about life, evolution, and mental growth, is just this method of give-and-take, this inter­action between our actions and their results by which we constantly transcend ourselves, our talents, our gifts.

This self-transcendence is the most striking and important fact of all life and all evolution, and especially of human evolution. [147]

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