The infinite ocean

“I was like a boy playing on the sea-shore and diverting myself now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary,” Newton said, “whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”

The thought that has been striking me lately is that it will always be so, no matter how fast or how far our human knowledge expands.

The rapidity of that expansion might deceive us into thinking that we are crossing the ocean and will some day come to its far edge.  But isn’t that like believing that, with a powerful enough computer, we could reach the end of the Mandelbrot set, and come to a place where, no matter how high the magnification was turned up, those new forms wouldn’t keep emerging from around the margins of the old ones?

2 thoughts on “The infinite ocean”

  1. It seems to me that the ‘expansion’of knowledge and understanding is only seen as ultimately finite because the knowledge and understanding in question is seen as logical, practical, physical, scientific, left-brain,’male’. If we approach knowledge and understanding in an abstract, spiritual, right-brain, ‘female’ way it becomes infinitely complex and ultimately simple – an endless Mandelbrot set which mutates as it expands.

  2. I think I agree, Helen. These things are hard to speak about because in a way words themselves are part of that logical practical side of things, but I think what we forget is that this isn’t some machine we are examining from the outside. The thing being examined is also the thing that is examining it.

    Or something like that.

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