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Unthinkable   By: (1909-1965)

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[Illustration: The doctor did a very strange thing; he pulled out a gun and shot himself through the head.]



If Nature suddenly began to behave differently, what we consider obvious and elementary today might become unthinkable.

In the story THE DESPOILERS in the October 1947 Amazing Stories I raised the question, "Is there anything absolutely beyond human comprehension?" In that story I gave humanity a thousand years to give birth to one man who could comprehend the incomprehensible.

The incomprehensible is harder to portray in a story than is merely the unknown. If we denote anything incomprehensible by the symbol X, we can describe what X is to a certain extent by knowing what it is not. We can, gradually, gain a certain insight into what it is by comparing it to what IS comprehensible.

In the last analysis the universe of normalcy is incomprehensible. We have made progress in comprehending it because we have isolated it into small bundles of events that can be dealt with by the human intellect.

We have arrived at certain basic pictures of the behavior of the incomprehensible. We have found a certain stability existing in the picture we have built up. We have searched the heavens and found that stars are made up of the same elements as the Earth with a few exceptions. And with those exceptions we have brought them into the framework of our picture of the Universe by postulating "dense matter."

We have, slowly, come to the belief that the same laws operate throughout the entire Universe, just as they do here on the Earth. This is the Uniformity Postulate.

In that story THE DESPOILERS the Uniformity Postulate was not denied. The incomprehensible in that story was the mind of a Despoiler. It, to the human mind, was incomprehensible; and to the Despoiler, the human mind was incomprehensible.

Each viewed the Universe differently due to a difference in whatever lies at the foundations of the thinking processes. In other words, uniformity of the principle of thought was denied there.

Both the Despoilers and Man had mechanical civilization and science, but due to their different minds neither could comprehend completely the viewpoint of the other ON THE SAME THING. Each had applied his REASON to the disorder of nature and constructed what to him was a REASONABLE PICTURE.

The type of mentality I attributed to the Despoiler may be impossible. It may be that if the human race eventually reaches out and encounters other intelligent races it will find that the basic principles which result in thought as we know it are the ONLY basic principles that can give rise to thinking intelligence, so that wherever we find civilization we will find creatures that think the same as we do, and have seen the same pattern in nature that we have.

There is another possibility besides the encountering of incomprehensible minds. That is the possibility of encountering incomprehensible "islands" of reality.

One thing we have discovered about nature that makes such "islands" possible or that makes it possible WE are living in such an "island" is that matter has a habit of "reacting" to some types of energy patterns, and "totally ignoring" others.

Perhaps you can better understand what I mean by the following analogous position: Kah is an intelligent entity fixed at a certain point. He can only derive a picture of reality from what he sees. He can only see a foot in front of him. In all his existence he has seen only one type of thing rocks about an inch in diameter. He therefore concludes that all reality is rocks an inch in diameter.

He is unable ever to learn that he is situated at a place where the one inch rocks leave a screen with seven eighths inch holes that let every smaller pebble and all the sand through, and that seven eighths inch screen is the catch all for a higher screen with one inch holes that kept everything larger from coming through... Continue reading book >>

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