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Post 0

Saturday, June 29, 2002 - 1:29pmSanction this postReply
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Cress-well; stick to Gecian urns or draughtmanship - don't try to talk philosophy



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Sunday, June 30, 2002 - 10:01pmSanction this postReply
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Ah, that's a refutation by essentials, isn't it? Cresswell, you're damned!

Actually, I thought it was a pretty good article. And they were Grecian, not Gecian, urns I think.

Craig



Post 2

Monday, July 1, 2002 - 12:50pmSanction this postReply
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I don't understand the reasoning of puti's response...but anyway...

I liked it! I am very interested in reading up on some "rational" interpritiations of quantum physics beyond Lious de Broglie (sic). Any suggestions for me and any other readers?



Post 3

Monday, July 1, 2002 - 3:58pmSanction this postReply
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Ryan and others,

Two places on the web at which you might read up on 'rational physics' would be:

1) www.objectivescience.com , which has a discussion list; and

2) www.physicsform.org and the TEWLIP list (found at the website), both of which discuss Lewis Little' Theory of Elementary Waves, a theory very similar to de Broglie's, but different in crucial aspects.

A third place to look is David Harriman's excellent lecture series 'The Philosophic Corruption of Physics,' available as five tapes at the Second Renaissance Bookstore.
Harriman, in this lecture series, recommends Little's theory as having merit, but has since resiled from that view. However, as he says in the lecture series, Little's theory is a good indication of what a deterministic, non-contradictory explanation might look like.

Hope that helps. Sorry I am unable to offer any guidance on 'Gecian' urns, though. :-)

PC



Post 4

Tuesday, July 16, 2002 - 2:59amSanction this postReply
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Interesting article, despite my knowledge of physics being strictly armchair...One question: where's Einstein? He is after all the most famous critic of the later branches of quantum mechanics. The extremely commonsensical Einstein/Podolsky/Rosen thought experiment quite effectively skewers the Copenhagen Interpretation - in fact, it provoked Bohr's famous call for a "final renunciation...of causality", simply because, one suspects, he didn't really have a good answer to it. Plus Einstein was a never ending source of one-liners like "the more successful QM is, the sillier it looks", God doesn't play dice etc etc. Would have thought this point of view would have been useful ammo - unless you figure old Al was cockamamie too (I am aware some Objectivists do)

Anyhow, readers seeking some of the best critiques of modern and PM philosopy-of-science around might want to aquaint themselves with the increasingly less obscure Australian philosopher David Stove. His fan site is here:

http://www.maths.unsw.edu.au/~jim/davidstove.html

Somehow I think you're gonna like him...;-)



Post 5

Thursday, July 18, 2002 - 9:32pmSanction this postReply
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Peter,

I'm not completely sure what you are driving at in your essay, - seemingly you are equating some kind of Aristotelian essentialism to commonsense. If this in fact is the case, I'd have to say your barking up the wrong tree, a tree that was chopped down several times but perhaps most conclusively and comprehensively with the demise of logical positivism.

Fact is there *are* serious issues with the Aristotelian (or essentialist) view of science.

For example, it is entirely possible to formulate empirically equivalent but logically incompatible scientific theories - (underdetermination thesis) which are you going to choose, which one is "real".

The Quine-Duhem thesis, the claim that the sentences of a theory have their evidence only as a related set. Isolated hypothesis are themselves not severally verifiable by experience.

...to name but two examples,

Your view of science is significantly characterised by discarded "logical positivist" themes. You need to get past Aristotle and read some contemporary philosophy of science if you want to comment with any authority on this subject. My advice would be to get hold of a copy of "The Philosophy of Science" Boyd, Gasper and Trout as a primer.

Kind Regards
Steve McKinlay
http://ontic.co.nz



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Post 6

Friday, July 19, 2002 - 2:00pmSanction this postReply
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...furthermore, your interpretation of Rand (a rather flakey and in many cases fallacious philosopher in my opinion)

"So whatever science discovers is the fundamental building block(s) of the universe, is what it is. "

No! Granted, (I accept) Science is the best measure of what there is (ontology - something you say nothing about directly in your paper), and the best measure of how we know what there is (epistemology [sic]).

But, this is not the same as saying Science has the last word on ontology. The "fundamental building blocks(s)" of the universe are still (only) theoretical (unobservable) entities. The ONLY evidence we have for them is the fact that we have some understanding of some causal interactions which lead us to INFER their existence. And (as you should know) Hume (first)taught us causal connections carry no substantial empirical weight. (Hume, Enquiry - section 7, and later et al passim)

One of the issues with your idea (or Rand's extreme-realism) as I mentioned above is under-determination of theories, there have been many cases where empirically equivalent theories have developed - often it is no more the case that the most elegant, the most parsimonious is chosen (Ockhams razor is alive and cutting well). Off the top of the head I can think of Ptolemaic->Copernican->Newtonian physics...

Science is ultimately revisionary and fallible. This is in the same sentence, is its strength and its weakness.

In T.H. Huxley words "The great tragedy of science - the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact"

S. McKinlay
http://ontic.co.nz



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Post 7

Wednesday, July 31, 2002 - 7:12pmSanction this postReply
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Science does not merely say that things are the way the are. There is a tacit "disclaimer" inherent in scientific findings. Scientific findings are evaluating in terms of the mode of operation. For instance, when evaluated a certain way, light acts as a particle, but when evaluated another way, it acts as a wave. The physical sciences can safely ignore metaphysics, because regardless of the way reality"really is", we perceive reality a certain way, and can make increase the human store of knowledge that is "correct," but only sensical when experienced via human sense-perceptions.



Post 8

Tuesday, September 10, 2002 - 6:56pmSanction this postReply
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Interesting article. One quick problem: "Meta physika" in Greek means "after physics," not "before physics."



Post 9

Thursday, July 3, 2003 - 3:51pmSanction this postReply
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July 3
Thursday

When I was a philosophy student many years ago, a professor asked me to write a paper. Topic? "What does it mean to know something?"

I've come up with hundreds of notions since, none of which seem satisfying.

- James Marshall



Post 10

Friday, April 16, 2004 - 2:56pmSanction this postReply
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Peter,

I was looking for information on Objectivist views about Stephen Hawking after a marvellous drama about his student days on television here in the UK the other night, and came across your article. Regarding the comment about knowing "the mind of God", unless he made another statement that I am unaware of, then his actual words (in the last paragraph of A Brief History Of Time) were in fact:

"However, if we discover a complete theory, it should in time be understandable in broad principle by everyone, not just a few scientists. Then we shall all, philosophers, scientists and just ordinary people, be able to take part in the discussion of the question of why it is that we and the universe exist. If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason -- for then we would know the mind of God."

Hawking mostly talks about "God" metaphorically, though there is some talk of him being a Deist. In any case (and with respect), I don't think his mind of god remark, read in context, was stupid at all.

MH

(Edited by Matthew Humphreys on 4/16, 5:11pm)




Post 11

Saturday, April 17, 2004 - 7:13amSanction this postReply
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Great article, Peter.

I am not a physicist, but I know that knowledge is either possible to man or it is not.
And when a field of inquiry embraces contradictions -- it is no longer a science

The following response from Steve illustrates precisely such an embrace:

For example, it is entirely possible to formulate empirically equivalent but logically incompatible scientific theories - (underdetermination thesis) which are you going to choose, which one is "real".
At root, all such notions are an attempt to claim to know that nothing can be known -- and to prove it by proving that there is no such thing as proof.




Post 12

Saturday, April 17, 2004 - 7:14pmSanction this postReply
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Hi Matthew,

You said 'I don't think [Stephen Hawking's] mind of god remark, read in context, was stupid at all.'

Well, reading my own remark in context, I still think Hawking's comment is stupid - but I might withdraw the epithet 'utterly stupid.' :-)

In fact, his remark is instructive. He's saying that 'the ultimate triumph of human reason' would be to 'know the mind of God.' Nice metaphor. Bad philosophy. Bad philosophy, 'cos it's not really saying anything. If one really has to ask 'the question of why it is that we and the universe exist,' then wouldn't it be better to repair to a textbook of metaphysics than a Bible? And if that textbook was to inform the reader that there is no 'why' to the existence of the universe, just an 'it is' ... then so much the better.

The remark is instructive because it tells us that when physicists, no matter how brilliant, begin to think about the wider implications of what they have discovered then they are no less vulnerable to bad philosophy than anyone else - which is, of course, 'what I am driving at' with the article. 

Because Hawking has no rational textbook of metaphysics to repair to - philosophers having abandoned the goal of producing such a thing - when he tries to tell us that he's on to something profound, the only thing he has to repair to to give his idea wings is bad theology. Where, with a rational metaphysics and a rational epistemology we might have found a burnished goal for all his endeavours in cosmology, instead we find at the end of his road only a stale platitude: 'that we might know the mind of God.'

Bad philosophy has affected what physicists have said and claimed. But Hawking's comment itself wasn't bad, just stupid. :-)

Michael:

You're quite right that convoluted gibberish such as Steve's is an attempt to 'prove' that there is no proof. His argument demonstrates that there is more to accepting an idea than just an examination of that idea's internal consistency, what ever his Popperian epistemology might say.

Fact is, once you've abandoned causality and identity you've abandoned any hope of making sense of what you see: you've begun talking gibberish anyway.

Cheers,

Peter Cresswell

(Edited by Peter Cresswell on 4/17, 7:16pm)




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Post 13

Saturday, April 17, 2004 - 8:53pmSanction this postReply
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PC wrote:
>You're quite right that convoluted gibberish such as Steve's is an attempt to 'prove' that there is no proof. His argument demonstrates that there is more to accepting an idea than just an examination of that idea's internal consistency, what ever his Popperian epistemology might say.

Woah, Nelly! Where does Popper say that there is no more to accepting a theory than examining its internal consistency?

- Daniel



Post 14

Sunday, April 18, 2004 - 9:59amSanction this postReply
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I agree with jarod. I agree with Steve, but the only thing I would qualify is that science being "fallible" really means that there are limits placed on the scientist, by circumstance, as to what kinds of data he can collect.



Post 15

Sunday, April 18, 2004 - 11:55amSanction this postReply
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Peter,

Thanks for your response :-) Based on what's in A Brief History Of Time I'm pretty sure Hawking would agree with you regarding the need for a philosophy. He's pretty dismissive of how science has broken away from philosophy in recent decades and even takes Kant to task on certain matters.

I am not a scientist by any definition whatsoever, so can I ask how/whether you think the big bang theory affects the Objectivist belief that the universe "just is"? As best I can make out, as long as cosmologists aren't making out that some some divine creation is necessary then it isn't a problem.

Cheers,

MH




Post 16

Monday, March 7, 2005 - 6:39pmSanction this postReply
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Great quote Peter:

Neils Bohr said in 1922, "The [then new] development of quantum theory demands the renunciation of causality, and of physical reality."

Can you give a citation to it? I'm writing a paper on the interpretation of Quantum Mechanics
Regards,
John Michael Finn, William and Mary, Williamsburg VA




Post 17

Sunday, April 10, 2005 - 12:51pmSanction this postReply
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I have read through your article and a whole lot of entries here:

http://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=68265

I have come to the conclusion that there are two kind of scientists:
Lorentz and Keplers, who actually conducted experiments, observed facts, but didn't draw a theory that could integrate it into an understandable part of physics.

And then there were Bohr, Einstein and Newton, who did use those experiments and described a whole theory to explain these events.

(Special Theory of Relativity or Maxwell's addition to the displacment current, leading to EM waves)

So, where is the problem or what exactly do you want to critisize in this?

But isn't it also a fault to discard facts that have been obtained by experiments. If an experiment proved to you that there can be two states to one thing, would you call this a hoax or deny its existence? (For example, the H2-experiment)
I mean, perhaps there is a playing field for Quantum Mechanics, because it is just a level deeper than classical mechanics and the laws of nature are different here? If you can prove this theory with experiments, or even derive it from experiments, than you can't deny it, can you?

(Edited by Max on 4/10, 1:16pm)




Post 18

Sunday, April 10, 2005 - 3:39pmSanction this postReply
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Galileo & Co. didn't reject Aristotle, they took his ideas a step further. Aristotle's then-science was based on observation, which was a step in the right direction. But he didn't continue from observation to experimentation, which is what Galileo & Co. did.

When we talk of observation in quantum physics you must remember what observation is in physics. To observe something you must interact with it, be it through a photon, electron, whatever. It is this interaction that "creates" quantum reality. This is different from primacy of consciousness. You don't need a consciousness for a photon to interact with something.

Quantum computers do exist, and they can factor the number 15!

I'm no fan of QM myself, but a lot of what you said was based on a misunderstanding of what's really going on with the physics. QM is very non-intuitive and it doesn't translate well into coherent popular science, which has led to all sorts of people claiming that mysticism and science are becoming one. They're not, we just don't have a complete answer yet.

As to the lack of major accomplishments in recent history, I think that's arguably not true. Sure, compared to the ignorance we came out of when modern science started what we're doing today may not seem as huge, but there's a lot of important stuff happening in the details of natural law.



Post 19

Tuesday, April 19, 2005 - 6:10amSanction this postReply
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Seeing that this is a very delicate problem. I'd like to forward this link to a scientific regard on the Grand Unified Theory of Quantum Mechanics (in applying all laws that have been set up by Quantum Mechanics on the classic laws):

http://www.blacklightpower.com/pdf/TheoryPresentation030905.pdf




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