When talking about determinism and the desire to predict and know the future, Dan Gilbert says that if the universe is entirely predetermined and there's nothing anyone could do to change the course of events, why would you have any desire to know the future? He goes on to say that even those who claim to believe in predeterminism don't really believe it, as everyone likes to think they can have an impact on the world. I would have responded to this point with the question "Is there still value in knowing the future, even if you can't change it?" I personally think there is, but I'd like to hear Professor Gilbert's opinion. An example that came to mind that somewhat answers this question involves narratives in entertainment, whether they be books or TV shows. In the vast majority of entertainment media we consume, the events of the narrative for that particular show or book have already been written, and there's nothing we can do to change them. However, this doesn't stop people from wanting to know what might happen in next week's unreleased episode, and coming up with their own predictions to try to find out. I think human curiosity alone is enough to motivate us to want to know the future, even if there's nothing we can do to change it.
top of page
bottom of page
Thanks for the post, @Eric Elliott. I asked not Dan Gilbert, but George Church, about whether knowing a future you can’t change is useful, re:genetics... His answer is in this interview... https://www.labxchange.org/library/pathway/lx-pathway:0b417a9e-6227-44a8-a887-dbfdf44e37e3/items/lx-pb:0b417a9e-6227-44a8-a887-dbfdf44e37e3:lx_simulation:f6d09171?source=%2Flibrary%2Fclusters%2Flx-cluster%3AModernPrediction
The point you made about the predetermined nature of TV Shows is a really good one. It's also a really funny phenomenon because the very people who check out their horoscopes in the morning also refuse to look at "spoilers" before watching a TV show or movie. It's interesting how selective we are in the things we want to learn about and the things we choose to revel within the mystery of instead.