The Measure of Man

Man’s measure is Man itself. All living beings capable of measure will always measure against themselves. For the ant the forest will be immense, for the fish the ocean will be gigantic. And it works the other way round as well. For the elephant the ant will be tiny. For humankind it is no different. Quarks are miniscule and the Universe incomprehensibly great.

All understanding is per definition subjective, and with subjectivity goes that we measure everything against ourselves. Must be so!

For the reasoned beings that humans are our assumptions on size have been proven wrong throughout history. When we thought that our tribe and neighbouring tribes were all that were we were wrong. When we thought that Egypt and its neighbours were the whole story we were wrong. When we thought that the Earth was the centre of a firmament that existed just for the Earth and hence was narrowly bounded we were wrong. If we think that the Universe is the only Verse we are most likely wrong. Even if we accept the multiverse, or different types of multiverses, we are probably still wrong to believe that they constitute the ultimate extent. The multiverses are apt to be part of a superstructure, that itself is part of yet another superstructure that is part of a further superstructure! A potentially endless chain!

The same in the other direction! When we believed that all that existed could be seen by the unaided eye we were wrong. When we thought that the molecule was the smallest measure we were wrong. Same for the atom, same for protons, neutrons and electrons. We now believe that quarks are the smallest things. But we are almost certain to be proven wrong. And wrong again!

In my book I propagate that a first principle of epistemology should be that reality is almost always wilder and more complex than we think. This principle should probably go hand-in-hand with another fundamental principle, namely that the measures of humankind are almost always too limitative! Reality tends to be both smaller and larger than we think. And this will remain true even as we continuously redefine our measures. Smaller will continue to get smaller and bigger continue to get bigger! This is a relativity we better get to grips with and make an absolute truth. At least for the time being!


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