Unreal Nature

December 13, 2019

The Tiny Bit of Ice / That Burning Candle

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:11 am

… Everything is a miracle.

This is from Understanding Systems: Conversations on Epistemology and Ethics by Heinz von Foerster / Bernhard Pörksen translated by Karen Leube (2002):

[ … ]

Bernhard Pörksen: … You mentioned that you see the encounter between people and mutual understanding as a miracle that is permanently taking place but which is impossible to explain. You might say that this justifies a whole new attitude of humility toward the fact that the world’s structure resists being dissected and understood by us.

Heinz von Foerster: In fact, I’m touched by your association with the notion of the miracle and am in complete agreement. Of course there is a connection between the notion of the miracle and the fundamental inexplicability of functioning interactions. The miracle cannot be explained. In fact, in attempting to explain it one often tries to push it aside or even destroy it. It would be great if people could warm up to the concept of not knowing.

[line break added] I would go so far as to propose that we allow miracles to come about by not attempting to explain some phenomena in the first place, because in a deeper sense, we are simply not in a position to do so. It seems to me that our knowledge of the world is just the tip of the iceberg. It is like the tiny bit of ice that juts out of the water, while that which we do not know extends down to the vast depths of the ocean.

[ … ]

BP: One last question. What is a miracle?

HF: If memory serves me correctly, Socrates was once asked this same question. A burning candle was on a table. Socrates pointed to the candle and said, “That burning candle over there is a miracle.” I tend to agree with Socrates. Everything is a miracle.

My most recent previous post from this book is here.

-Julie

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