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Caledonian2 comments on Joy in the Merely Real - Less Wrong

63 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 20 March 2008 06:18AM

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Comment author: Caledonian2 21 March 2008 01:08:23PM 0 points [-]

People who are satisfied by and delight in the explained are unlikely to push themselves to the cutting edge of understanding to confront the unexplained. There's more that has been explained than anyone could learn in a hundred lifetimes. Someone whose joy is to understand would therefore not be a driving force behind scientific investigation.

Similar arguments apply to people who are satisfied by and delight in the unknown.

By repeating this process of exclusion, we can conclude what relationship to the known and unknown scientists have - assuming, of course, that they're motivated by such things at all, as opposed to motives like simple status competition.

Comment author: taryneast 18 December 2010 11:51:54AM *  0 points [-]

Someone whose joy is to understand would therefore not be a driving force behind scientific investigation.

Unless their Joy is to be the first to understand something... in which case they would quite happily push at the boundaries of knowledge and thus drive scientific progress. Of course you may have hinted at this in the "motives like simple status competition".

[Edit: and of course (as I've noticed happens a lot), the very next post in this series says much what I tried to say above... only better: http://lesswrong.com/lw/os/joy_in_discovery/ ]

By contrast, somebody that merely delighted in mysteries would be satisfied by becoming a theologian. After all, somebody satisfied with mere mysteries doesn't want those mysteries taken away by actually finding out the truth.

From what I actually observe of scientists, they (we) start out by just searching out answers to our questions - not yet knowing if they've been "explained" or not. That this is what we delight in.

The current state of Science is that a lot of the questions have been answered already - and so it happens that at first we delight in finding out about what turns out to have already been explained... but the questions don't stop, and eventually we reach a point where the information is still being investigated... and so the scientist becomes part of the cutting edge.