Daily Archives: June 18, 2003

Footnotes to Occam’s Razor and the Heart Sutra

I made reference to the principle of Occam’s razor in a post the other day. Here is some additional information on that principle:

Occam’s razor is a logical principle attributed to the mediaeval philosopher William of Occam (or Ockham). The principle states that one should not make more assumptions than the minimum needed. This principle is often called the principle of parsimony. It underlies all scientific modelling and theory building. It admonishes us to choose from a set of otherwise equivalent models of a given phenomenon the simplest one. In any given model, Occam’s razor helps us to “shave off” those concepts, variables or constructs that are not really needed to explain the phenomenon. By doing that, developing the model will become much easier, and there is less chance of introducing inconsistencies, ambiguities and redundancies. Though the principle may seem rather trivial, it is essential for model building because of what is known as the “underdetermination of theories by data”. For a given set of observations or data, there is always an infinite number of possible models explaining those same data. This is because a model normally represents an infinite number of possible cases, of which the observed cases are only a finite subset. The non-observed cases are inferred by postulating general rules covering both actual and potential observations.

Much more to be found at: Occam’s Razor

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The Uses of this World

Is it any wonder that the world has turned to shit
in the minds of those who find in it no sacred benefit,
who think the earth is only temporary living space,
a proving ground for humans on their way to some pure place?

I wonder, in this maya that we say is all around,
that leads but to delusion, what else here we might have found
if thinking that our purpose was to borrow, and not waste,
if there would be religions that insist the gods are chaste.

And if we thought our energy was best used to renew,
perhaps we’d give a second thought to what we say and do,
if living for eternity meant staying here and now,
and recognizing bullshit serves at both ends of the cow

Nirvana, heaven, paradise – we long for other homes,
insisting that our purpose is to overcome our bones.
We claim superiority, and yet, we fail to see
that no more than the grass, or ants, we are just energy.

This world, they say, is suffering, and should not be embraced.
But why embrace another? Is that not a bit two-faced?
I say, love what you have at hand, and it will be your gold;
and reinvest your spirit when your temporal portal folds.

18 JUN 2003

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