Scoped Logic

By Mark Nuyens
7 min. read🤔 Philosophy

Try solving a PHP problem using CSS and... you probably wouldn't get very far. This is to be expected, since a certain set of rules does not apply to another scope of logic. Then again, wouldn't you be curious to see what CSS would come up with we insisted? "Scoped logic" refers to the abstract idea and application of logic being highly contextual, and that it might take us more than just familiar methods to come up with new answers if we truly want to expand our knowledge and understanding of the world around us.

As illustrated with the unusual coding example, while it may be the case that another domain may not have the same experience in dealing with certain logic, it does not mean there are no parallels or overlap at all. Take quantum mechanics for example. When it was first discovered, there was very little support. It was not possible that this microscopic world with all its quirks would share the same world as nature as we knew it up until that point. However, it turns out that this is in fact the case, and more importantly, it has opened up doors to understanding the larger questions as a result. To me this shows just how easy reality can change when you keep an open mind.

A wise man once said, "The more you think you understand quantum mechanics, the less you do." Although this can be interpreted many different ways, I would personally interpret it the way I consider information from when I was much younger, which is the more information we gain and the more intelligent we may feel, the less we are actually capable of gaining new information. For one thing, we may eventually run out of available options compared to the beginning, but more importantly, we are steered down a path that might make sense looking ahead and back, but at some point, we simply are no longer able able to justify all the steps taken together. There may be flaws in our thinking from the beginning that have continued on throughout in the rest of our path and solidified in our reasoning as a result.

This idea is further exemplified in a rather silly, but practical situation like doing the dishes. Quite often I find myself forcefully trying to fit a wet plate or pan onto a crowded rack, while I could have just dried it off by hand, therefore forgetting my initial goal entirely. The phenomenon I am describing feels like cognitive dissonance, but on a larger scale. While we are becoming blind to the world we tend to think as irrelevant, we suddenly discover that all this time we might have been able to resolve something entirely differently in the first place. To put it more dramatically, each step in a certain direction makes us less objective.

This phenomenon is becoming even more apparent with the rise of AI. Many people have jobs where they have a certain level of expertise within a specific field under a particular set of logic and rules, trying to solve X and Y to contribute to Z. However, AI is now becoming a viable option for solving Z, removing the need for X and Y altogether. This has caused many people to question what made them do this in the first place and whether they were ever capable of solving something as accurately now accomplished so much easier. To me, this shows just how fast our methods can become irrelevant if we lose sight of our initial goals.

If we were to compare our knowledge to a library, it might seem obvious that all information is stored within the books. However, it's important to remember that those same books are placed on shelves, within bookcases, on different floors and inside of a building. This metaphor highlights the possibility that we might only search for information in specific places using conventional means. To make new observations, we need to consider alternative approaches that challenge our traditional methods. Therefore, it's crucial to think outside the books (pun intended) and explore different ways of acquiring knowledge.

When we feel like we are interacting with something that feels greater than ourselves, perhaps even to the level of transcendence, we often attribute it to emotions, spirituality, superstition, or romanticism. Most of us have experienced at least something we weren't able to explain immediately. Time goes by and the cynic in our mind tends to rationalize and provide explanations for such experiences using our familiar logic, making it increasingly hard for us to stay open to new insights and perspectives. The point I'm trying to make is that perhaps we shouldn't be too hard on ourselves when we discuss things never encountered before or are hard to translate to words in the first place.

This raises the question of whether or not we are capable of solving something at all if it turns out to be simply outside our range. I am not referring to something outside of our vision due to the lack of better instruments, but rather that we might not have the capacity to process the very question itself. In the best scenario it's due to an error in our reasoning, but it may also be the case we are simply incapable of understanding entirely. For example, claims of there being more than the four dimensions we know of. Have you ever tried to think in multiple times? It's quite hard to be honest and it gives me anxiety just thinking about it. We are limited in this way by the very existence of "limit" itself.

So, how can we deal with this? Personally I believe we should consider utilizing AI not just for answers, but for generating questions as well. AI has the potential to provide us with a unique perspective and a fresh set of logic and rules that we may not be able to come up with on our own. However, this can only be achieved if we allow AI to operate with a versatile and diverse set of input data. Without this, we risk falling into an echo chamber of our own questions and answers. To truly explore intriguing questions, we must be open to the unconventional and allow AI to take its own course. This may lead to ideas that initially seem like nonsense, but could potentially be the key to discovering the next breakthrough in science, such as quantum mechanics.

I've been thinking about this idea a lot lately. I believe that this "scoped logic", as I like to call it, is an important concept to consider when we approach new problems and challenges in life. We should be aware of the broader context of a problem, and whether or not the logic we are applying to it is appropriate to solve it. If not, we should seek out different perspectives and approaches to expand our understanding and ultimately find new solutions. And who knows, perhaps AI will be able to help us out with that.

To end with a poem, generated by AI about this very topic:

Beyond our sight and understanding
Lies a world that's vast and expanding
A place where time and space unite
And everything is bathed in light

We know it's there, but cannot see
This world of infinite possibility
A realm beyond what we can measure
Where every moment is a treasure

So let us not forget to dream
Of worlds beyond what we can glean
For though they may be out of sight
They're never out of mind or light

Thank you for reading!