Matt W Cook

writer.former fundamentalist.christianly fellow

Month: April, 2016

Asha Cook on Epistemic Boundedness

Asha came in while I was working. I took a break to ask about her day, and what she was working on. A comic about a vampire named Lucas. A book about a superhero named Smirk.

“Good stuff,” I said. Then she asked what I was working on.

“Oh, you know, just trying to figure out if humans are epistemically bounded.”

“What’s that?”

I took a breath. I was tempted to wave it off. After all, how could a seven-year-old engage with this? Then I thought, hell, give it a shot.

“Well, it’s the question of whether or not there are some ideas that we just can’t have because of how our brains are.”

Her brow furrowed as her mind lingered over my words. Then her eyes slowly widened. Her mouth dropped open a little.

“Wow,” she whispered through a smile. “That’s … that’s hard. And cool!

I grinned at my little philosopher. “It sure is.”

A Good Day for Cog Sci

The rain had ended during my lecture and the sky was warm and blue. I looked north on my way to the library and stopped to let out a worshipful gasp. Behind the old chapel, past the campus and half-finished condos, great low-flying clouds pushed their way across the sky. It was as if the city itself were flooding above the world, a  developing babel basking in the sunlight.

I would have stayed to watch, but I had an essay to write.

When I sat in the library, covered in artificial lights, I was tempted for a moment to regret being indoors, missing the view. Then I remembered my discipline was Cognitive Science, and my goal the Hard Problem. I chuckled. Surely this will hold at least as much wonder as the clouds.