Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

The sea captain in the storm

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Charles S. Peirce

There never was a sounder logical maxim of scientific procedure than Occam’s Razor: Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem. That is to say; before you try a complicated hypothesis, you should make quite sure that no simplification of it will explain the facts equally well…[But] compared with living belief it is nothing but a ghost. If the captain of a vessel on a lee shore in a terrific storm finds himself in a critical position in which he must instantly either put his wheel to port acting on one hypothesis, or put his wheel to starboard acting on the contrary hypothesis, and his vessel will infallibly be dashed to pieces if he decides the question wrongly, Occam’s Razor is not worth the stout belief of any common seaman. For stout belief may happen to save the ship, while Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem would be only a stupid way of spelling shipwreck. Now in matters of real practical concern we are all in something like the situation of that sea captain.

Charles Sanders PeircePragmatism as a Principle and Method of Right Thinking

Written by nevalalee

October 1, 2016 at 7:30 am

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