Perhaps the biggest question of all is whether the process of inquiry that has revealed so much about the universe since the time of Galileo and Kepler is nearing the end of the line. “I worry whether we’ve come to the limits of empirical science,” says Lawrence Krauss of Arizona State University. Specifically, Krauss wonders if it will require knowledge of other universes, such as those posed by Carroll, to understand why our universe is the way it is. If such knowledge is impossible to access, it may spell the end for deepening our understanding any further.
It is often noted that one of the defining qualities of our universe is its comprehensibility, but it might just as well be said that comprehension is a defining quality of mind. This symmetry between the knowable universe and the knowing mind reflects an important quality of the latter: it does not merely observe, record, and inductively detect intelligible connections.
Rather: it encompasses, interiorizes, virtualizes, and explains holistically. That is to say that the mind is an organ which can contain within itself accurate models of all phenomena in the form of explanations. These models are akin to virtualizations: we can recreate within our minds even what we cannot observe, and we can do so such that those recreations are astonishingly isomorphic to their real counterparts.
This is the metaphorical basis for cognition: we construct metaphorical models (theories, ideas, terms) which retain the logical properties and relations of their subjects so that we are not dependent on accessibility for knowledge. We cannot, for example, see the Big Bang; the perplexing flow of time prevents it. Yet we can model it with incredibly acuity, and our virtualizing computational minds allow us to extract from those models conclusions which predict and explain the behavior of the physical universe.
Nothing about the multiverse would be different, regardless of its observational accessibility. I am surprised to read Krauss’ epistemological anxiety, since it would be an event unprecedented in the history of physical reality were we to encounter something fundamentally incomprehensible. I imagine David Deutsch, in particular, would object that such a development would be unlikely given the evolution of mind within physical reality, an evolution which has allowed the former to contain the latter with profound accuracy.
(In this sense, mind –including its externalized components, such as computer networks- may be the only element of reality which can in theory contain reality, although Walker Percy claimed that mind cannot, as a semiotic matter, contain itself: hence the success of the sciences and the failures of modern selfhood).