chapter 5: ariadnes thread
We are given here a magnificent metaphor (click for a brief narration of the story), one meant to illustrate the difficulties and beauties (ironically) of science and the need and lack of its unification on all respects and grounds. Details of the use of this metaphor and its application to science and our lives can be found on the book itself, but here the main importance is to understand that science is as a journey and two terms are introduced to us here that help define this journey: reductionism, the mechanical theory of human understanding reducing life into the smallest components, and synthesis, which is basically reconstructing these components back into the essence it was taken from; if reductionism is possible, then in theory Synthesis should be as well. Examples vary depending on the specific situation, dissection is an interesting word to use relating it to reductionism, especially when evaluating biological organisms, such as a simple ant (actual example of the book) or other insects, which are most commonly used. Dissection allows the exploration of the organisms components and reduces it to the smallest molecule of its existence. Synthesis, would require one to take these small molecular components and build up back whatever organism you originally dissected, or not. The hardest application of science is in regard to "Complex systems", language comes at the top of my head, so does an example giving by Dylan Evans during one of our dialogues related to Thinking, Fast and Slow, his comment was that men typically struggled doing things machine did rather well, and machines struggled doing things that we humans find pretty easy. This insight allow one to understand the difficulty of complex systems, to me this means we do not yet understand them; more on this follows on chapter 6. However, here on this particular chapter the message seems clearer when turning back to the firstly mentioned metaphor of Ariadne's Thread, science leaves trails one can go back to, in fact this is the easy thing to do, but often we stumble against a wall that we know not yet how to penetrate, for which we often come back to, the great enemy we destroy is our own irrationality and our goal the unification of all knowledge.