The Best Available Explanation

The only perfect model of reality and the universe is reality and the universe. All other models fall short in some way. Once you realize this you also realize that there is no “absolute truth”; there can only be a “best available explanation”. “Truth” is an attribute of a statement about some aspect of the universe. The statement is an abstraction, essentially a model, of the portion of the universe that it’s referring to. Best available explanations can be labeled “truth” until they’re not, because a better explanation has been developed. This better explanation will be the current “truth” until an even better explanation displaces it.Wales

Interestingly, this creates a system of statements that are more true or less true. Less true statements are “false”, but can only be false in the context of more true statements. They are true if there are no “more true” statements available. In other words, they’re the best available explanation.

The movement from an explanation to a better explanation is called progress. You can survive for a time without progress because the explanation that you’re living with is good enough within a certain context. Unfortunately, the universe is larger than your context. It always is until the entire universe is accounted for in a system that can accommodate that much information, but the only system that can accommodate that much information is the universe itself so we’re doomed to unending progress.

When forces outside of your context impinge upon the context you’ve accounted for you’ll either need to progress, i.e. come up with a better explanation – a way to interact and account for the new expanded context, or suffer and possibly die. This is just the way things work and as much as we might prefer an alternative it doesn’t exist.

Llanthony PrioryYou may ask, “Can this need for progress be halted or reversed?” Well kind of and not really; and only locally or temporarily. Change happens and is irreversible. The cat is constantly being let out of the bag. Pandora’s box is constantly being opened. Once outside forces have presented themselves in your context you can’t unknow them and continue to survive. Progress occurred automatically whether you like it or not. You can destroy that progress by destroying yourself, but that’s your only alternative today. You could imagine a technology that “checkpoints” various moments of your life and enables you to reset yourself to one of those checkpoints. That’s the equivalent of destroying any life that’s occurred since that checkpoint. Unless this technology reset the entire world around you then you would instantly progress; so what’s the point. The only checkpoint available to us today is pre-life, otherwise known as death. When you die, from your point-of-view you’ve never existed. That makes resetting to an available checkpoint less interesting since you can’t do anything once you’ve done so.

The point of this meander is that change and progress are fundamental attributes of the universe. If you don’t like change then you should get over it. The only alternative is death; which, at least from your point-of-view, is the only state you can be in with no change. You can influence how we progress by biasing which forces impinge upon our context, but you can’t keep us from progressing without killing us.

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