Monday, December 26, 2005

In praise of uncertainty

I wonder to what degree this is an educated guess (considering my lack of understanding of mathematics and modern physics, probably to an uncomfortably large degree), but I would say that any rational human action and thought must be based on probability. We lack so much experience, information and understanding - and what we have is bound in a very relative and complicated way to our narrow and non-stable cultural and personal perception - we simply do not have any way to base our thoughts and actions to any fixed certainty of their meaning and long term concequence.

In these circumstances the rational way to act is to base everything on uncertainty, probability and doubt. The historical problem with this is that most people will react in feverish, irrational, aggressive and immediate action and conviction, and will end up creating all sorts of power structures and organizations resulting in continuous blind, chaotic and uncontrollable change. While the rational few are in paralysis of doubt and uncertainty. Our whole existance is thus based on unstability and chaos - I actually doubt that there would be a way for us to act rationally as a collective. We would be something else if we would be able to do that. And I do wonder what this thought, if true, says about us, about our future in the world.


helsinkian said...

I think uncertainty is basically a positive, so many meaningful things in life come as a surprise. Every Communist society believed in making rational decisions as a collective but somehow they always needed a dictator to make the decisions for that collective. Individuals can make rational decisions but those decisions are often at odds with irrational decisions of other individuals... or at least the other person's rational decision can be hurtful to someone else. I don't believe in an invisible hand evening out the outcome of the sum total of the rational decisions of individuals. Chaos is always lurking behind the corner and there are no guarantees as to what will happen tomorrow.

stockholm slender said...

I actually have been quite curious about the nature of causality in the historical process for quite a time. Causality understood in a very concrete way as you look at it in the natural sciences. I can't help thinking that history happens solely in the material world. Though I realize that is a very controversial idea.