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  Stephen Hawking and the impossibility of a 'theory of everything' Richard
Posted: 23/2/2004
Today's (23rd February 2004) UK paper, The Guardian, reports that Stephen Hawking has published an on-line article entitled 'Godel and the End of Physics'( Apparently Hawking claims that the ultimate equation which would describe eveything in the universe, which until recently he thought to be achievable, will never be devised. There's some very muddled stuff reported from Hawking about 'knowing the mind of God' and the like and there's a quote to the effect that Hawking is pleased that total knowledge is not possible. He says 'I'm now glad that our search for understanding will never come to an end and that we will always have the challenge of new discovery. Without it we would stagnate.'
It all seems very confused and odd but it fits entirely within the Alphomist view that no deterministic 'equation' can be discovered. The universe cannot be fully described without involving mental events and acts of will. So Hawking, apparently supported by Martin Rees, the astronomer royal, is now promoting the sensible idea that determinism as a total metaphysic is doomed. However he is wrong, speaking from an Alphomist viewpoint, to claim that there cannot be any kind of comprehensive account. Once ideas like total determinism, god, infinity and the like are put in their proper places, and the inner world is acknowledged, along with free will, then an account is eminently possible.

  Re: Stephen Hawking and the impossibility of a 'theory of everything' (maikel annaley)
Posted: 3/5/2004
i know see a possible answer to my earlier query re your post on coles' review of greene's 'the fabric of the cosmos'.
i also find hawking's claims: "very confused". however they are not "odd"; but consistent with the mindset of most modern scientists.
as he states, godel's work was not the end of science(or maths); but it was definitely a call to the end of the illusion that plato 'over-looks' and pythagoras 'mis-under-stands'.
would you now please clarify your statement: "the universe cannot fully be described without involving mental events and acts of will."
maikel .
  Re: Stephen Hawking and the impossibility of a 'theory of everything' (Richard)
Posted: 7/5/2004
Many thanks for your thoughtful and interesting comment.
The remark about the need to incorporate mental events and acts of will into any account of the universe is aimed at those who believe that a purely objective description is possible. I'm thinking of people such as those in the Skinner/Watson tradition of psychology who hold that all human behaviour can be described via a series of stimulus-response reactions.I'm sure that it could never be so but even if it were, we would still need an explanation of the phenomenon of the inner world. They can't just wish it away (though there are plenty, it seems, who would love to do that). It amazes me that the vivid, inescapable inner world of perception and thought, which provides us with all our data, can be treated as though it's fundamentally 'unreal'.
I gather that there are more and more courses being provided by universities in the 'neuro-psychology' area. It's fascinating territory. The more we learn about the mental/physical interface the better as far as I'm concerned but I stick to the prediction that a purely mechanistic account of mental processes will not be feasible.


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