Can't hide from the world

In this video, one of the 20th Century's most influential philosophers, Hilary Putnam, touches on science and ultimate truth. That the facts we discover are conditioned in part on the facts that we bring to bear, which is not the same as saying that physical knowledge is relative, or any other such nonsense. Stars burn, planes fly, cells multiply and these things happen whether or not we're around to witness them.

The point, rather, is narrower. Any final human-readable understanding of the world would require an ability that we don't possess to eliminate our interaction with it. Somewhere along the way there is the inevitable exchange of human energy for information, a point famously and immodestly made in these experiments. Yes, determinism takes a beating. Suns eventually exhaust their fuel supply, planes crash and children sometimes fall ill from unexplained cellular cruelty. There simply is no hiding from the world. But just as certainly and sadly as these things happen we are wonderfully free as well to get what comes next, right at last.

The video is brief, but if the PBS'y wood-panel earnestness and faded videography are too much, fast forward to about the seven minute mark.