The Metaphysics and Epistemology of Origination

On 7.11, Aviezer Tucker (Harvard University) will give the talk "The Metaphysics and Epistemology of Origination" at L2. 16h. There will be a reception with coffee and snacks afterwards. All welcome and more information below.
Photo of speaker Aviezer Tucker

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L2 and Zoom (passcode: 365878)

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Some of the most groundbreaking and surprising scientific discoveries that changed the scientific view of the past have been of origins. Darwin’s discoveries of origins of species are but the most obvious. The scientific discoveries of the common origins of language families, which Darwin used as analogies to explain the origins of species, the originary forms of ancient texts that were copied and edited, the origin of the continents--the supercontinent Pangea, the origin of the universe—metaphorically called the “Big Bang;” the origins of galaxies, stars, planets and solar systems, the origins of ideas such as totalitarianism and democracy, and so on have been as important, surprising, and significant. The scientific discoveries of origins are historically recent; none older than the late 18th century. They are ongoing. For example, geneticists discovered recently the origins of Eurasian humanity in interbreeding between African Homo Sapiens and Neanderthals. It is highly likely that scientific discoveries of origins will continue progressively. One of the most intriguing scientific questions that continues to receive enormous attention is of the origin of life, whether there was one origin or multiple origins, what was or were these origins, and whether such or other origins of life have been replicated in the cosmos.

Despite the enormous past, present, and likely future scientific attention to origins, philosophy of science and epistemology miss systematic analyses of origins and origination, and consequently of the originary sciences, the sciences that infer origins, of the universe, species, genes, the continents, and languages. I present an analysis of the metaphysics of epistemology of origination. Origination transmits encoded information signals from origin to receivers. Originary sciences decode the signals to infer their origins or their properties. Origination supervenes on causation and has different emergent properties. Only information stored in receivers is conditional on its origins. Origins and receivers need not be contiguous or entail regularities. Origination supports counterfactuals. The epistemology of origins is founded on decoding information in receivers. Ceteris paribus, there is a simple linear relation between the quantity of information receivers preserve from their origins and the inferential determination of their origins. Origins may be singular causal sequences that are inferred from information they transmit, rather than justified by regularities. The conceptual distinction between origination and causation dissolves received challenges to theories of causation by demonstrating they are about origination. The distinction between originary and causal sciences absorbs the distinctions between historical and theoretical sciences and generates opportunities for new philosophies of science.


I am directing the Centre for Philosophy of Historiography and the Historical Sciences at the University of Ostrava. I maintain an association with Harvard and I teach and tutor globally.

Over a long, mostly academic, career I have worked as a researcher, educator, author, and editor. I have conducted research and published and edited books and articles about politics, history, law, energy, science studies, and philosophy. I also worked in international education and with pre-college students. I have taught and lectured globally to students and non-academic audiences of politicians, managers, and opinion makers.

My research has concentrated in two clusters:

1. History, theory and methodology of the historical sciences, epistemology (the theory of knowledge) of our knowledge of the past, and philosophy of science, history of ideas and intellectual history.

2. Politics, comparative and theoretical, of Post-totalitarian and post-authoritarian countries especially in Europe , Geopolitics, and energy Policy.

Last updated: 31.10.2023