May: Uncertainty as Epistemology and Ethics

i.a – Consider if there existed a foundational truth at the center of the universe upon which all of reality is positioned. In considering how this truth might be rendered for human comprehension, consideration might be given as to the accessibility of this comprehension. That is, would this truth only be comprehensible by those with a particular number of years of philosophical study up their sleeve, by those who are well read in analytic philosophy, evolutionary psychology and quantum physics, within a particular intellectual range, by those with a particular grasp on language, by those who can recite back a comprehension of the truth in a speech that lasts no more than a couple of minutes to sufficiently authenticate that comprehension. Or, might we rather suggest that if there existed a foundational truth at the center of the universe upon which all of reality is positioned, it must be accessible to everybody, regardless of intellectual capacity or strength of attention or training or language capacity, and as such it would be an inclusive truth, one that is democratically and phenomenologically within reach of all humans who would care to engage with it, and as such might it rather be acknowledged that any sound that this truth might appear to be making at the center of the universe is rather, actually, a sound that is echoing and rising up from the center of yourself. Perhaps that sound is a breath. Perhaps it is not. 

ii.a – Let us start every morning and every meeting with the following epistemological acknowledgement: we have the capacity for language to tell stories that might help us live, and language can only ever talk about language. Language is a game of fictions and model making built to slide around inside the puzzle box of our dialogues and there are no prizes for correctly arranging the pieces because there is no correct way to arrange them. Language cannot escape the fiction of its form because fiction is its only form. Truth is a language game. If fiction is all there is than this does not mean that everything is also truth. It simply means that language can only ever talk about language, and all language sounds like a breath rising from nothing. 

ii.b – Let us follow this epistemological acknowledgement with an ethical acknowledgement at the start of every morning and every meeting: we are forever looking out of a pinprick within a keyhole at the consequence of ourselves. We only ever have access to part of the data, part of the history, part of the universe, part of the language. When we look at the ecosystem on the mountain and the dwindling supplies of flora and fauna and the disrupted balance in play, we might be caused to consider technical solutions, the research of experts, the diagnostic tools of advanced machine learning. And when we go ahead and implement our solution, it may surprise us when things get worse, or better, or stay the same, because the mountain and its history and its future are bigger than the pinprick within the keyhole can give us vantage of. On the one hand, sure, reality is just a language game and the consequences are moot. On the other hand, your child is coughing and it does not sound good. Language can only ever talk about language, and the most ethical thing you can do is not stretch yourself too far into predictive models of the future. Those models are pinprick fictions. Just try to choose the path of least harm. And if an expert wants to give their advice and tell you about the foundational truth at the center of the universe upon which all of reality is positioned, tell them the keyhole is accessible to you as much as to them, with or without language, rising from the center of yourself, breath in, breath out.