Re: Scientific pessimism

From: Paul Fidika (
Date: Tue Feb 25 2003 - 12:54:51 MST

More recently (in 1999), Horgan had his next book; "The Undiscovered Mind:
How the Human Brain Defies Replication, Medication, and Explanation"
published (quite an explicit name, no?). One of his last few chapters of
"The end of Science" touches on the end of some of the neurosciences, which
apparently drew more fire to him than any other section of the book. Since
perhaps Physicists will never be able to find that "one big theory" which
revolutionized everything (i.e., Quantum Theory), he argues that other
sciences have passed their zenith, or at least they are out of big things to
discover; all that remains is to refine what we already know; no big
discoveries or scientific paradigm shifts looming on the horizon as far as
Horgan is concerned.

But Neurosciences and AI are just getting started, they certainly have not
reached their zeniths yet (as most anyone will argue against him). I'm
reading his book right now, and apparently his argument is that the realm of
objective and rational science cannot ever fully explain the subjective
world of the mind (i.e., the hard problems of consciousness, qualia). Which
is the exact opposite of my stance; since the brain which generates the
conscious mind is clearly rooted within the physical universe, just as much
as quarks, stars, or computers are, I see no reason to believe that science
would be unable to explain consciousness while being able to explain quarks,
stars, or computers.

I think Horgan is wrong about, well, just about everything, but his books
still make for an interesting read at the very least.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Ben Goertzel" <>
To: "Sl4@Sl4. Org" <>
Sent: Tuesday, February 25, 2003 8:21 AM
Subject: Scientific pessimism

> Remarkably dumb scientific pessimism from an individual in a powerful
> position...
> Unbelievably, this senior Scientific American writer is arguing that
> is basically over and won't significantly progress any further.
> Seriously!
> -- Ben G

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