7th Nov 2013: Noumenal Contouring; The Secret Of Science, The Secret Of Skill by Ciaran Healy

Come along to The Counting House at 7pm for a talk by Ciaran. Enjoy meeting someone new and sharing a crust of bread. Click here for details

Name of speaker and subject:

Ciaran Healy, Philosophy

Title of talk:

Noumenal Contouring – The Secret Of Science, The Secret Of Skill

Karl Popper

Bullet points of what you would like to cover:

  • The Philosophy Of Science – best understood as a kind of unsolved crime, but instead of a crime you have the most incredible and unprecedented advanced in understanding.  But like an unsolved crime, nobody has yet accounted for why it happened, or how it happened.  The philosophy of science means you undertake that investigation.
  • Some real advances have been made – Karl Popper made the biggest breakthroughs, which are simple enough at heart.
  • Simple – but insufficient.  Popper’s mechanism does not account for the finely detailed accuracy that science generates.  We’re looking for something else, something contained inside falsification that Popper didn’t see.
  • So let’s look at accuracy in a different domain – skill.
  • Juggling and juggling chainsaws.
  • The process of developing that finesse, that accuracy, is the process of non-random failure, and this is what Popper missed.
  • When you try something new and fail, the way in which you fail cannot be predicted by you, and is not random.  The way in which something fails literally is a contour of reality.  It literally reveals something of the shape of the underlying reality, which you could call noumenal contouring.
  • Factoring this new calibrations into your actions allows them to become different, and fail differently, thus revealing more.
  • This is how skill is generated.  Arrogance – as in the refusal to face the reality of your own failure, kills this process dead.  Humility speeds it up.
  • Science literally is this process.  It’s not an analogue to it, it’s not a metaphor for it.  It literally is this actual process, moved out of the arena of action and into the arena of understanding.
  • There are a number of consequences to this.  One of them, regarding philosophy specifically, is that the analytical rut into which philosophy has been embedded for the past century can be safely ignored.  There is another way, equally as rigorous, but massively more engaged with reality, and with vastly more potential than logic.

Suggested you-tube links, websites and / or texts where

further information may be found:


A few words about you and your passion:

Philosophy is my life.  To me, it is easily the most important thing that I can think of to do in a world devoid of wisdom.  Beyond the dry posturing of ‘clever’ men there is a universe of insight waiting to be discovered.  Problems of war, hate, superficiality, division – we can attack these things as they arise, or we can set ourselves about finding the source, to see if something can be done there to remake humanity, and the world.  That’s not what philosophy has become.  But it is what it needs to become, and what my work is all about.

A few lines about the history of your subject:

Philosophy is the original science from which all science flows, and all science that has lost that curiosity into the real, into the truth, has lost it’s way and is no longer worthy of being called science.  Right from the start, philosophy has been the most immediate and most intimate of all acts of inquiry.  Ask about Earth, Air, Fire and Water if you like – the really interesting questions are about courage, hope, hate, despair, love, heroism, peace and virtue.
Every major advance in Western history – from Classical Athens to the Renaissance, the Enlightenment – all were philosophical advances first and foremost.  It is, I believe, the most important thing that humans can do, which is why I do it.

Anything else you may want to say:

Think that about covers it.

Ciaran has written an article about Seismic Philosophy

which you can read by clicking Here