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Hovey’s Postulate

Wm. Hovey Smith    October, 2006
Wm. Hovey Smith October, 2006

  While sitting for hours in a deer stand, here is a thought problem to consider. I have observed that the search for knowledge in all fields of human endeavor is the art of progressive, successive approximations towards the ultimate objective of obtaining truth, which is, of itself, unknown and unknowable in its full extent.

  However far human knowledge is pushed, it can only advance so far as the intellectual and physical tools of the day can measure it. Furthermore, this advance is not linear. There are many false branches and dead ends. Whenever there is a claim of absolute truth, this is a danger signal that a dead end has been reached; and the real truth lies along another pathway, perhaps to be discovered by different means.

  We see many examples today where physical “laws” are now known to be not so absolute as they once were. Where limits once thought to be unobtainable, have been exceeded. Where profound “truths” believed by millions have been confounded.

  They way to knowledge is not to find an end, but to push the search beyond the limits of perceived boundaries. With persistance man will make progress towards the betterment of his life and the species, but there will never, in any field, be a stage where all knowledge is known. It is folly to think otherwise.

  Man’s true path towards truth lies in the search, not in its supposed attainment. We can drive the calculus of progressive, successive approximations closer and closer, but the final objective of perfect understanding, will always be just beyond our grasp. If you think you have obtained it, look again, look deeper.

  This realization should serve to push the bounds of science, the humanities, religion, government and social science in all directions; rather than disappointing those truth seekers who are now being told that they will never, can never, realize their objective. We can come closer, but will never absolutely succeed.

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