Marks and Remarks
Food for the Mind and Eye

No. 0084, July 21, 2015


Roads Taken and Not Taken

Copyright 2015 by S. W. Paul Wyszkowski

     Dr. Pangloss was of the opinion that this is the best of all possible worlds. Which raises the question: how many worlds are possible? And, even more urgently, what is a world, anyway?

     Here's one take on this matter. Imagine a space made up of points each of which has a unique location. A world is the path of consciousness as it sequentially observes differences in the location between pairs (or groups) of points. (Actually, the points may have other unique features besides location but let's keep it simple.) Since the number of unique point locations is boundless, clearly so is the number of possible paths consciousness can take through the point space. So we have any number of possible worlds (not all of them equally probable). OK, but which is the best one?

     We hark back to the last M&R where we posited a Desire which attaches Value to observations. The best of all possible worlds would be the path that maximizes the desired value. But how can we be sure we are following the optimal path? There being a boundless number of possible paths, we can never be sure, even if we agreed on what is the desirable value, which we don't.

     "I take it then that it is unlikely that this is the best of all possible worlds?" Prickles presumes. More than unlikely. Actually, there is no such thing as the best of all possible worlds. There are only worlds which, for a time, seem better than some others, but they don't stay that way. "So what do we do?" asks Prickles. Stay alert, pay attention, and be prepared to change direction. "Oh," she says.

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