A(n aesthetic) theory of everything

Science is the pursuit of the theory of everything. It has the motivation and goal to explain all that can be explained (via science). It looks to explain all of nature, all of the universe through equations. It is seeking a grand unified theory of everything. The truth that science seeks to encapsulate is the objective truth of the universe.

Let’s just assume this is possible. Let’s just assume that this occurs. Suppose that today or tomorrow or next year scientific explanations have come to a conclusion. EVERYTHING can now be explained. Everything. There is no more mystery that science cannot explain, cannot model, cannot predict. This is what the scientific pursuit aims for. It is its purpose.

Now, we should ask ourselves some questions.

First, is this what we want? Is life better when we know absolutely everything about everything, where all things can be explained and all predictions knowable? It is an important question to ask.

Second, how will this knowledge be consumed? Do we believe or expect every single person on the planet to now memorize or come to know all of the science that explains everything? I can hardly expect this to be the case, since today there is LESS scientific knowledge (I assume) than there would be come the day when science has explained everything. And if generally people are not educated in all of the current science, then why should/would they be in the future when even more (all) scientific knowledge is made known?

There are also those people who do not have scientific minds. They don’t process information in that way. They don’t conceptualize atoms and cellular pathways and molecular mechanisms and physical laws. What use will be a scientific model for those people?

Once (again, I am assuming this is even possible) all things are known through science, this knowledge, if it is to be useful, will need to be consumable. In order for it to be consumable it must be understandable and easy to relate to and to conceptualize. It must be simple enough to grasp for all. These become issues of aesthetics. Not just that, it should be enjoyable and fun to consume. This is also an issue of aesthetics.

Once science has finalized all the knowledge of the universe, there will be few interested in the jargon and mechanical technicalities involved in understanding. What good is knowledge if it is too complicated or unpleasant to consume and acquire? What will become necessary (for most, and preferred by all) will be a conceptual schema of that knowledge that can be enjoyable and easy to communicate and represent. Aesthetics.

This is what allegory brings to the table, it is its strength. This is what metaphor and story make possible. I do not foresee a culture of people, upon knowing all of the objective truths of the universe, being capable of communicating all of these truths through complicated mechanisms and equations. What I see as much more likely is an allegorical representation of those equations, of those mechanisms, of those physical laws. I see this as a necessary process if the scientific pursuit ever succeeds in achieving its goal. Culturally, socially and qualitatively, it will allow all people to make use and maintain the knowledge gained.

We do this to degrees today. Watch any PBS/Discovery channel scientific show and the explanations (which is meant to reach a general audience of a wide range of cognitive abilities) given are often soaked in analogy, metaphor and allegory. A concept that is already ready at hand for the viewer is taken into account and used in an analogy so that they can consume and derive meaning from the scientific model. When I am asked for a scientific explanation for a given thing I am forced to do this as well. I cannot use the language and jargon of the scientific world. That would be a horrible explanation as it doesn’t take into account the person who is looking for the explanation.

And in this same way the general public will want to reap the knowledge that comes when science has come to ‘know everything’. And in this same way, it must be consumable and aesthetically pleasing. Scientific knowledge via allegory, via metaphor, via myth and story.

I find it curious. Science was born from not accepting the current stories of the time, the current, you may say, myths. In its own pursuit it may very well end in a myth, a story, an allegory of its own.