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Could Alien science and epistemology be incomprehensible to humans?

  1. Nov 17, 2011 #1
    On Wikipedia, I was reading the Stanisław Lem article and got linked to the Hypothetical types of biochemistry and Fermi paradox article, particularly the section on They are too alien, where it states "Another possibility is that human theoreticians have underestimated how much alien life might differ from that on Earth. Alien psychologies may simply be too different to communicate with human beings, to understand the concept of communication, or to even be interested in other lifeforms at all, and so they may be unable or unwilling to make the attempt. Human mathematics, language, tool use, and other concepts and communicative capacity may be parochial to Earth and not shared by other life."
    Can anyone provide any websites, articles, or books that explore this concept?
    Specifically I would be interested in learning about the biological evolutionary and epistemological origins of a incommensurably radically different Alien consciousness, mathematics, perception, cognition and science.
    As humans we get primarily depend on a specific range of light-waves as our way of perceiving the world. Our fellow mammals the bat "sees" sound, while the Platypus "sees" smell. Evolutionarily speaking, mammals are our close cousins. So the difference in perception of a an evolved species with a radically different environment is barely comprehensible.
    At its core, I think the question comes down to whether you have a realist or instrumentalist view of science. If our knowledge and science is just what "works for us" or is "useful" than it might not necessarily be objectively True. It is caused by the mind-independent objective world, but might be experienced in radically different ways.
    Does alien life need to even be biochemical ? Perhaps a purely electromagnetic life form can arise in the interior of stars. Or perhaps dark matter, whatever it is, is alive. Or, even if we talk about biological life forms, I believe there are bacteria which live deep underground that have much slower metabolisms than those we are familiar with. Yes, they aren't intelligent, but perhaps more complex organisms can exist with a similarly slow metabolic rate.
    This would be the epistemological basis for the cosmic horrors explored by Hp Lovecraft and Stanisław Lem in which aliens are so alien to humans, that it leads to complete incommensurablity and even madness.
    Anyway I look forward to any comments anyone has on this interesting topic
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 21, 2011 #2
    You expect quite a lot from Physics Forums, don't you?
  4. Nov 21, 2011 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    He should know that we can't give that information out.
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