[lit-ideas] Re: Back to Popper (and further back to Hume)

  • From: joerg benesch <jgruel@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 24 Nov 2006 12:17:35 +0100

If the third box is black, then it's likely to contain Schroedinger's cat, which, as you all might know, was a three-coloured Norwegian forrest cat with a natural sypathetic affinity to black ambientes, maybe because they in some way seem to emulate that special sort of night that makes all cats look gray (swans too, BTW).

Of course, three silly boxes cannot prove a pussycat. Any given number of boxes can't. And why boxes? Can all this silly secrecy serve to unwrap truth?

If the giving of the boxes "to test the proposition" is supposed to make any possible sense, then the third box must by necessity contain a black swan, for otherwise it would be impossible to derive a true/false statement about the proposition. This implies that the giver of the boxes knows (or at least wants us to think she knows) that the proposition is false, and, what is more, that any universal proposition tested under such conditions is false. But why three boxes? a single one would suffice, and even that is not necessary given that the giver of the proposition is an omniscient popperian.

Elseif that transcendent entity ("the giver") were the well-known spiritus malignus, then the third box may contain anything, a yellow cucumber, a blue pretzel, or even a black swan (!), and the truth of the proposition is undecidable. In either case, its truth cannot be proven - if the test with the boxes makes sense.

Meanwhile, in the unboxed world, it's obvious all real swans are white: a black swan isn't a swan.


lost in Suebia

Donal McEvoy schrieb:
You are given a proposition: "All swans are white".

You are given three boxes to test the proposition.

You open Box 1: in it is a white swan.

Box 2: is empty.

Box 3: you are not allowed to open. Until, that is, you have found a way to
say _as a probability_ what should _probably_ be in the box.

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