No theory of everything

In “There Is No Theory of Everything,” Simon Critchley reminisces about his teacher Frank Cioffi. Along the way there are amusing anecdotes, distinctions drawn between explanation and interpretation, warnings about the twin dangers of scientism and obscurantism, and reflections on the value of philosophy (it scratches an itch!). “We don’t need an answer to the question of life’s meaning, just as we don’t need a theory of everything. What we need are multifarious descriptions of many things, further descriptions of phenomena that change the aspect under which they are seen, that light them up and let us see them anew.”

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One thought on “No theory of everything

  1. I want to comment on the following statement in the article which seems to be what the entire article based upon:
    There is a gap between nature and society. The mistake, for which scientism is the name, is the belief that this gap can or should be filled.

    Does this imply that the author and Mr. Cioffi believe in some kind of freewill? Where exactly is the line drawn between society and nature? If I am living amidst a forest with my family and other neighbors in 2000 BC, then thats my society. So where would the line be draw in that case? Do we just take out the people to one side and the trees to the other and then call the latter ‘nature’ and the former ‘society’? If someone in the former dies, and is buried, do they now become party of ‘nature’? If I cut a tree and build a tree-house, would that now become part of the society and cease to be part of nature?

    You mention the following from the article:

    We don’t need an answer to the question of life’s meaning, just as we don’t need a theory of everything. What we need are multifarious descriptions of many things, further descriptions of phenomena that change the aspect under which they are seen, that light them up and let us see them anew.

    Well then something that describes the above is your Theory of Everything. The statement above and the many like it are the start of a description for such a theory. Why would you think that that kind of a thing is impossible to achieve?

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