Monday, July 03, 2006

Conceptualization

No two games of chess are the same. The first moves may be the same, but for each new move fewer identical games have been played, and eventually each game is unique (with the exception of short games between bad players). Yet, despite that all games are different the principles describing the games are the same. So despite the uniqueness of each game, to an experienced player much is familiar and similar to other games. Principles such as "open lines" and "control of the center" etc always applies (though in different degrees depending on the details of each game). And there are not that many principles either. I think it was Kotov and Keres that suggested that to understand a position, four different areas need to be considered (that is, four principles, each containing a few sub-principles).

The same is true for all human areas, whether you are trying to understand how to act, how to think, how a government should be governed, how to explain star systems or our own biology, and so on. Without principles there is no such thing as understanding.

Humans understand the world by conceptualizing it, and principles are the result of that process. (Note to self: is applying principles also best described as an act of conceptualization?) .

The world is immensely complex, and without principles we are completely lost in that complexity. Some old (and young) fools claim that for a theory to be really true, it has to "mirror" the complexity of reality, and be as complex itself. That's just stupid. The exact opposite should be the goal: to let as few principles as possible explain as much as possible. For example, the principle (or law) or gravity explains both falling apples and planets rotation the sun. One single principle explains an infinite amount of complex stuff in the universe. Imagine trying to understand all those things that gravity explains through a theory that "mirrored" the complexity of that which it is trying to explain (which I assume would a mean a unique theory for each unique object - and every single object in the universe in unique, no two things are identical -, instead of the same principle/theory/law explaining an endless series of different objects).

All areas in life should be conceptualized. Hey, a principle.

In my current wave of extroversion and interest in politics (especially some areas) I see a lot of lack of principles. The conclusions people (including politicians and journalists) come to and the decisions they make are completely irrational.

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