May 28, 2012 | by  | in Opinion |
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Often philosophy confronts some of our most basic thoughts, and seeks to overturn their foundations. One obvious thought that crops up is the idea that things could have gone differently. So we muse about how good it would have been if we had that extra pie for lunch, or how lame it’d have been if Stephen Donald missed his World Cup winning penalty. The famously bearded David Lewis wanted to explain how this works. His basic solution was that the best way to make sense of these statements was that we live in some kind of a multiverse. There exists a world where Stephen Donald missed, and also one where he played for France, and one where he was an octopus and also any infinite number of possible worlds matching the possible alternate scenarios.

This shit is truly cray. But many philosophers have agreed that this is the best way to explain the logic of possibility. More recently, even physicists have claimed that their mathematical models of the cosmos imply something similar. It seems like our science is lining up behind some wacky philosophy. But there’s a devastating catch. The physics which suggest that a multiverse is a reality may be untestable; these other universes might not leave any trace on our own, and the evidence for their existence is literally speeding away from us at the speed of light. So we are left in a bind. Do we take it on faith that the best minds of our generation have solved some of the fundamental puzzles of life and language? Or does this make you doubt your conviction in the power of human ingenuity? These are the big issues of our time. Word.

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