• Wayfarer
    8.3k
    "The blind spot of science is the neglect of lived experience" - an essay by Adam Frank, professor of astrophysics; Marcelo Gleiser, theoretical physicist; Evan Thompson professor of philosophy; published in Aeon.

    Behind the Blind Spot sits the belief that physical reality has absolute primacy in human knowledge, a view that can be called scientific materialism. In philosophical terms, it combines scientific objectivism (science tells us about the real, mind-independent world) and physicalism (science tells us that physical reality is all there is). Elementary particles, moments in time, genes, the brain – all these things are assumed to be fundamentally real. By contrast, experience, awareness and consciousness are taken to be secondary. The scientific task becomes about figuring out how to reduce them to something physical, such as the behaviour of neural networks, the architecture of computational systems, or some measure of information.

    This framework faces two intractable problems. The first concerns scientific objectivism. We never encounter physical reality outside of our observations of it. Elementary particles, time, genes and the brain are manifest to us only through our measurements, models and manipulations. Their presence is always based on scientific investigations, which occur only in the field of our experience.

    This doesn’t mean that scientific knowledge is arbitrary, or a mere projection of our own minds. On the contrary, some models and methods of investigation work much better than others, and we can test this. But these tests never give us nature as it is in itself, outside our ways of seeing and acting on things. Experience is just as fundamental to scientific knowledge as the physical reality it reveals.

    The second problem concerns physicalism. According to the most reductive version of physicalism, science tells us that everything, including life, the mind and consciousness, can be reduced to the behaviour of the smallest material constituents. You’re nothing but your neurons, and your neurons are nothing but little bits of matter. Here, life and the mind are gone, and only lifeless matter exists.

    To put it bluntly, the claim that there’s nothing but physical reality is either false or empty. If ‘physical reality’ means reality as physics describes it, then the assertion that only physical phenomena exist is false. Why? Because physical science – including biology and computational neuroscience – doesn’t include an account of consciousness. This is not to say that consciousness is something unnatural or supernatural. The point is that physical science doesn’t include an account of experience; but we know that experience exists, so the claim that the only things that exist are what physical science tells us is false. On the other hand, if ‘physical reality’ means reality according to some future and complete physics, then the claim that there is nothing else but physical reality is empty, because we have no idea what such a future physics will look like, especially in relation to consciousness.

    Additional links and resources:

    Comment in Scientific American Cosmos, Quantum and Consciousness: Is Science Doomed to Leave Some Questions Unanswered?

    what happens when we cannot draw a clear line between the observer and the observed? This, according to Dartmouth physicist Marcelo Gleiser and some of his colleagues, is a serious problem. And because these cases concern some of the most important unanswered questions in physics, they potentially undermine the idea that science can explain “everything.”

    Michel Bitbol (paper) It is Never Known but it is the Knower: Consciousness and the Blind Spot of Science

    Bitbol was one of the speakers at the workshop that was held to discuss the issues raised in the Aeon article. His Academia profile page is here.

    Co-author Evan Thompson was, like Bitbol, also a collaborator of Francisco Varela's, and a scholar of Buddhist abhidharma (amongst other subjects). The cross-over between phenomenology, philosophy of science and Buddhism is prominent in many of these discussions. Quite why this is, is another interesting thing; I think it has to do with the fact that Buddhist abhidharma (philosophical psychology) conceives of 'dharmas', the fundamental units of reality, in terms of lived experience, rather than as enduring objects of perception (such as atoms). So it is arguable that Buddhism has had a phenomenological focus from its inception.

    And finally, I personally think there's an alternative term for what the paper calls 'lived experience', which helps to orientate the discussion more clearly in the context of the philosophical tradition. I wonder if there are any guesses as to what this word might be?
  • schopenhauer1
    3.3k

    The knot of experiential phenomena seems intractable. Either people have to bite the bullet of pansychism or they have to explain a dualism, hidden or otherwise. Anyone who uses illusion in their theory already has problems in explaining a materialistic monism.
  • andrewk
    2.1k
    It is a blind spot of science in the same way that the inability to provide a good observation of Jupiter is a blind spot of a microscope.

    What do Gleiser, Thompson and Frank think gives them the right to tell the world's millions of scientists, plenty of whom hold worldviews that encompass things not covered by science, what they believe?

    The game of 'I'm more open-minded and spiritual than you' is as dull, puerile and pointless as the more traditional pastime of competing over the size of reproductive appendages.
  • schopenhauer1
    3.3k

    This is probably aimed at the popular form of scientism as represented by the usual cadres like Dawkins et al. He makes a point for those who simply dont even acknowledge the hard question or understand it.
  • Janus
    8.3k
    I read the article and couldn't see much point to it. It seems obvious to me that the various sciences are phenomenological insofar as they deal with phenomena (and phenomena are defined as being what appears to us).

    So, we have a story, based on fossil evidence and other observations, working hypotheses and an accepted theory of evolution, that tells us what the world was like during the various periods long before the advent of humans. The obvious fact that this story is only ever going to be a story that tells us what we would likely have seen if we had been around in these prehuman period, a story that will only ever be told by us, doesn't seem relevant to how the science is actually done.

    I mean, how would acknowledging that what we are dealing with are things what we see, experience, imagine, speculate about and so on,(presuming that that is not already acknowledged: a presumption which would seem to impute rank stupidity to scientists) change how we do paleontology or geology, for example?

    The following is quoted form the article: "Scientific materialists will argue that the scientific method enables us to get outside of experience and grasp the world as it is in itself."

    Who are these so-called "scientific materialists", and what difference would such a "naive" view, even if it were common (which I find highly questionable) make to the practice of science? Science reveals the way the world appears to us, and this is revealing (at least some aspects of) what it is in itself, since we are part of nature.

    This does not mean that the way the world is in itself is exhausted by our perceptions of it, but since we are part of the world, when we observe it impartially and attempt to understand it without presupposition or prejudice then we get closer to seeing, freer from a priori or ad hoc assumptions or reifications of linguistic associations or metaphysical ideas, how the world functions and what its history has been, as far as we can tell.

    So, the notion that science has a "Blind Spot" seems to be really quite ludicrous, given firstly that science has no inherent view which could be counted as a blind spot, and secondly that individual scientists in general probably have their own viewpoints ranging from naive realism to anti-realism or idealism, from atheism to theism.

    And the salient question is 'what possible changes could we make, in any attempt to somehow include the observer, to the way we practice the natural sciences?'. How would including the human observer change what we say about geology, or climate science? How could we even include the observer in the study of non-human phenomena (apart from QM, where the observer is implicated according to some interpretations, but which nonetheless seems to be a special case)?
  • Janus
    8.3k
    The game of 'I'm more open-minded and spiritual than you' is as dull, puerile and pointless as the more traditional pastime of competing over the size of reproductive appendages.andrewk

    I feel I have been deprived: where can I find such fascinating competitions? :razz:

    Seriously, though, andrew, I quite agree with what you say there; it is indeed a "dull, peurile and pointless" game to be playing. Seeing the world in facile black and white agin-us-or-for-us terms, it is divisive, unjustifiably elitist and lacks subtlety and insight. It never ceases to amaze me how long it seems to take for some people to realize just how empty, how prejudiced and tendentious, such "philosophy" really is!
  • Wayfarer
    8.3k
    What do Gleiser, Thompson and Frank think gives them the right to tell the world's millions of scientists, plenty of whom hold worldviews that encompass things not covered by science, what they believe?andrewk

    Blind spots may also be sore spots. :grin: I found it a very interesting essay and I think it represents an important change in perspective.
  • Wayfarer
    8.3k
    And the salient question is 'what possible changes could we make, in any attempt to somehow include the observer, to the way we practice the natural sciences?Janus

    Are you familiar with 'the observer problem' in physics? With the decades-long debate between Einstein and Bohr about 'the role of the observer' and whether there is a 'mind-independent reality'? That is what provided a lot of the impetus for these kinds of developments.

    It's not coincidental that many of the theorists in this debate are physicists. One of the participants in the workshop was Christian Fuchs, who's 'qbism' is quite an intriguing interpretive framework for philosophy of physics. But Marcelo Gleiser, one of the authors, is also a theoretical physicist. Again, not surprising.

    But, hey, what do they know? They ought to sign up here and get schooled ;-)
  • Janus
    8.3k
    Are you familiar with 'the observer problem' in physics?Wayfarer

    Did you not read the first of the two posts above where I mention the observer problem in QM?

    BUT, in any case, that is the one and only science, natural or human, where the observer may make a difference to what is observed.
  • Wayfarer
    8.3k
    that is the one and only science, natural or human, where the observer may make a difference to what is observed.Janus

    It just happens to be the one that was purportedly concerned with 'the fundamental constituents of reality'. And that does have philosophical significance, because of the way in which physics has been seen as paradigmatic for other sciences.
  • ssu
    1.5k
    When scientists just do there jobs, look at some new collected data and make their scientific article on what the data can tell to us, it isn't hard to imagine that by observing this 'behaviour' you get the impression of scientific materialism and physicalism being the dominant beliefs in the scientific community.

    Ask them a little bit else and you can notice that physicalism isn't the trendiest fad in the community.

    Are you familiar with 'the observer problem' in physics? With the decades-long debate between Einstein and Bohr about 'the role of the observer' and whether there is a 'mind-independent reality'? That is what provided a lot of the impetus for these kinds of developments.Wayfarer
    There's a lot of that in the Copenhagen interpretation (which Bohr was a member of), which goes so far away with this that it puts the observer in the middle of things. In the extreme it goes to arguments like if nobody looked at the moon, it might collapse or something like that.
  • leo
    585
    And the salient question is 'what possible changes could we make, in any attempt to somehow include the observer, to the way we practice the natural sciences?'. How would including the human observer change what we say about geology, or climate science?Janus

    That's the thing, it would be so different that you can't imagine what that would be like while reasoning within the framework of a mind-independent world. You don't see the changes that we could make precisely because you are assuming a mind-independent world.

    Now, without assuming a mind-independent world, what is it that has an influence on geology and climate? There are the apparent regularities that we observe in our collective experience (which the natural sciences address), and then there is what we desire. What we desire shapes geology and the climate, it shapes everything we do, which shapes geology and the climate.

    And it isn't clear at all that we could ever account for that variable (what we desire) by modeling a human being as an aggregation of elementary particles that behave according to laws of physics, it isn't clear that the behavior of a living being could be predicted from laws of physics, even in principle.

    However, in a model of geology or climate, besides the variables of temperature, pressure, wind, solar activity, tectonic plate motion, ..., we could add as a variable the desires of living beings, and work on formulating a model that describes accurately the influence of desires on our environment, and come up with tools to find what people desire (these tools could be speaking with one another, interacting with one another, it doesn't have to be tools in the mere sense of physical object).

    And it would put back living beings in an important place, as beings that can shape the world through their will, rather than seeing ourselves and others as meaningless accidents, as heaps of particles that blindly follow physical laws while having the illusion of choice.
  • leo
    585
    When scientists just do there jobs, look at some new collected data and make their scientific article on what the data can tell to us, it isn't hard to imagine that by observing this 'behaviour' you get the impression of scientific materialism and physicalism being the dominant beliefs in the scientific community.

    Ask them a little bit else and you can notice that physicalism isn't the trendiest fad in the community.
    ssu

    That impression doesn't stem from observing their behavior, it stems from the fact that fundamental physics claim to describe the fundamental constituents of the universe, of everything including ourselves, and other scientific fields (chemistry, biology, neuroscience, psychiatry, ...) submit to this position of authority that fundamental physics has, they are imbued with the belief of physicalism. There is the widespread belief that in principle everything reduces to and emerges from the constituents described in fundamental physics, that is elementary particles interacting with one another as described in laws of physics.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    6k
    Science reveals the way the world appears to us, and this is revealing (at least some aspects of) what it is in itself, since we are part of nature.Janus

    This is not true, and that's the problem which the op deals with. Science attempts to understand the world, as it appears to us, but it does not reveal the way that the world appears to us because it does not understand human experience. People who think that science is revealing what it is in itself, or even a part of what it is in itself, suffer from that delusion.
  • andrewk
    2.1k
    But, hey, what do they know?Wayfarer
    Regarding the claims they make in their article - that scientists (without restriction or qualification) believe such and such - they know as close to nothing as makes no odds, since between the three of them they probably have interacted with fewer than 0.1% of the world's scientists, and discussed metaphysics or phenomenology with less than a tenth of those. Being an astrophysicist, a theoretical physicist or a philosopher doesn't give you any special insight into what a million plus people you have never met believe.

    The article is lazy, arrogant click-bait. Their real target appears to be reductive materialists like Dawkins, Hawking or Krauss, but that wouldn't generate enough interest, so they big up their target by implying that all scientists are like those three.

    There are not many people that can be more annoying than proselytising reductive materialists, but attention-seeking clowns that can't tell the difference between science and scientism manage to achieve it. I shudder to think what devoutly religious scientists like Francis Collins, or deeply philosophical ones like David Bohm would make of such tripe.
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.8k
    What's the question here? We have two issues presented, neither of which can be dealt with by science, and the reasonable (?) assertion that science cannot explain "everything". No surprises here. But this isn't a problem with science, merely an observation that science cannot address every issue. This doesn't lessen science, or detract from its (very) many successful applications. A hammer is not denigrated by the observation that it's rubbish as a tool for painting walls, is it? :wink:

    So what's the issue here? :chin:
  • ssu
    1.5k
    fundamental physics claim to describe the fundamental constituents of the universe, of everything including ourselves, and other scientific fields (chemistry, biology, neuroscience, psychiatry, ...) submit to this position of authority that fundamental physics has, they are imbued with the belief of physicalism.leo
    No.

    Physics doesn't claim anything like that.

    That is a philosophical view only and what you are describing is more of reductionism. And this is more of view of the ignorant people in the media that put physics on the pedestal and ask quantum-physicists or cosmologists philosophical questions ...because of their field of topic. As if the physicist would know some root causes. Usually these people simply don't even observe that they are holding a reductionist view towards science.

    In truth actual scientists usually stay away from other fields they don't know and acknowledge they amateurs in other fields.

    There is the widespread belief that in principle everything reduces to and emerges from the constituents described in fundamental physics, that is elementary particles interacting with one another as described in laws of physics.leo
    And this is called reductionism.

    Yet a quantum-physicist has no clue based his own field how mammals communicate or what the monetary policy ought to be. The idea that one phenomenon can be reduce to other more fundamental phenomena and in the end "everything would be physics" is just silly as physics has a limited scope to the field of science.
  • leo
    585
    I shudder to think what devoutly religious scientists like Francis Collins, or deeply philosophical ones like David Bohm would make of such tripe.andrewk

    No need to think, you can read what David Bohm said. Turns out he agrees with "such tripe".

    http://dbohm.com/david-bohm-science-spirituality-world-crisis.html

    Many thousands of years ago our culture was not broken into fragments as it is now. At that time science and spirituality were not separated. Since then they have grown far apart. In my view it is important to bring them together.

    The modern view has been that of mechanism and the universe was compared to a gigantic machine (originally clockwork and later the structure of atoms). This outlook has gone on to regard the human being as a machine

    This development has led to a view that has had bad effects. For example, Steven Weinberg, one of the leading physicists of our time has said the more we look into the cosmos the less we see any evidence of meaning. There is no place in this for spirit. It is all mechanism. The domain of spirit has receded until it’s gone as far as science is concerned. We may still hold onto the idea of spirit in spite of this, but at the expense at a kind of split in life.

    Modern views on science must be contributing to the current lack of meaning. First of all directly by being mechanistic and secondly indirectly be leading people who want to hold onto spirituality to be incoherent in various aspects of their lives.

    But does modern science really force us into mechanism? At present, most scientists seem to believe that this was inevitable.

    A current notion that is commonly accepted is that science is value free except possibly for truth, honesty, and similar notions. But that is not really so. Thus, Thomas Khun has said that scientists almost unconsciously pick up paradigms in their apprenticeships which have all sorts of values in them. One of the current values is that mechanism is the right way and the only way. Another value is that we want to make everything calculable by some sort of algorithm.

    It is clear that he considered reductive materialism a widespread view among scientists, and that he too saw it as a problem.

    After all why would we be surprised that most scientists hold that view, considering that it is the view taught in schools? Kids are taught in physics classes that they are made of particles, that these particles make up everything that exists, and then some of these kids move on to become scientists. If they don't philosophize on their own, they stick with the default physicalist view. And if you actually conversed with scientists, you would realize that the majority indeed hold that view.
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.8k
    It is clear that he considered reductive materialism a widespread view among scientists, and that he too saw it as a problem.leo

    Many have commented that this view exists, and offered their opinion that it is a problem. I have said as much myself, many times. Those who are open to this message have already received and accepted it. Those who really need it are those whose emotional attachments to their personal beliefs are so deep that they cannot even hear discussion like this one. A shame, but there it is.

    So where to go from here? :chin:
  • StreetlightX
    4.1k
    Science tells us that everything, including life, the mind and consciousness, can be reduced to the behaviour of the smallest material constituents. — Article

    The most depressing part of this - for me anyway - is that Thompson, one of the authors of the article, has done more than most to show that science does not tell us this. On his own, his writings are supremely senstitive to the fact that the above picture is not just wrong, but decisively so on account of 'what science tells us'. I fear that @andrewk is exactly right that Thompson has sold out his own philosophical sophistication to all the better make a big splash on a widely-read platform like Aeon.

    And the truth of course is that woo peddlers like the OP need science to be this reductive boogeyman all the better to leave breathing room for their own two-bit idealisms. Nothing is more terrifying to them than to learn that science itself repudiates these shitty reductive takes on science, least their own space of intellectual manouver is shrunk to nothing. Idealisms live on the transfused blood of reductive science - they sustain and support each other, and it is in the interest of each to nourish the parasitic life of the other. The OP and the article it champions is just another in a long line of dialectical tactics to shore up idealism by pushing the most vulgar of science as the most authoritative. Without doing so, it'd die the ignominious death it deserves.
  • leo
    585
    Many have commented that this view exists, and offered their opinion that it is a problem. I have said as much myself, many times. Those who are open to this message have already received and accepted it. Those who really need it are those whose emotional attachments to their personal beliefs are so deep that they cannot even hear discussion like this one. A shame, but there it is.

    So where to go from here? :chin:
    Pattern-chaser

    Attempt to solve the problem? By for instance changing the way physics is taught in schools so that kids don't leave it believing they are nothing more than particles behaving according to laws of physics.

    Also I believe many people are potentially open to this message but have never heard it. I desperately needed to hear this message during my scientific studies, but I was surrounded by scientists who boasted that their view is the truth and that anything going against it is essentially religious crackpottery. Took me a while to escape this madness and find some sanity in the words of philosophers such as Feyerabend who, unsurprisingly, was designated by many scientists as an enemy of science, or even the worst enemy of science, while all he was an enemy of was the bullshit that scientists spouted.

    And this message definitely hasn't been heard nearly enough, just need to look at some of the reactions in this thread.
  • leo
    585
    Physics doesn't claim anything like that.ssu

    Physicists and many scientists do.

    Yet a quantum-physicist has no clue based his own field how mammals communicate or what the monetary policy ought to be. The idea that one phenomenon can be reduce to other more fundamental phenomena and in the end "everything would be physics" is just silly as physics has a limited scope to the field of science.ssu

    Can be reduced to particles in the sense that "how mammals communicate" or "what the monetary policy ought to be" would be thoughts held by a human being, and these thoughts would correspond to a specific pattern of electrical activity in a brain, and that electrical activity would correspond to many electrons moving in some specific way. So basically in that view everything you think and you feel and you do is simply particles moving and interacting according to physical laws, and that view is usually called physicalism or materialism.
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.8k
    What you write about science is true. So is what I wrote about scientists, who are only human, like the rest of us. The issue (problem) here, as I understand it, is with scientists (and the way they practice science), not with science (which remains the powerful and useful tool it has been for many centuries).

    woo peddlers like the OP need science to be this reductive boogeyman all the better to leave breathing room for their own two-bit idealisms.StreetlightX

    I missed the "woo peddling". I saw only a couple of problems to which science is often applied by the ignorant. These problems are outside the scope of science. Where is the woo, and where are the "two-bit idealisms"?
  • Coben
    842
    Of course there are individuals and countertrends in science and in the intellectual circles that think science is the only way to gain knowledge. And of course many scientists and science fans realize that there may be many mysteries yet to solve, or assume this, and take an agnostic stance towards phenomena, interpretations of phenomena, and ideas that do not seem to fit with current models. But desite all this there is a significant culture within the science community, within the technocrats and in many intellectual circles that we pretty much know the core stuff about the universe and anyone who does not accept current models is irrational, and there is not much important to be undecided about...etc. And these people have a powerful influence on the way society moves and changes and interpersonally are often quite harsh and dismissive. I honestly can't believe that this is being denied by people in this thread. The fact that they are like this does not mean science is bad or should be overthrown. It means what it means. There is a closemindedness and oversimplification by this culture or significant subculture - and one that is really quite philosophically illiterate despite their intelligence - and this is problematic.
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.8k
    Attempt to solve the problem? By for instance changing the way physics is taught in schools so that kids don't leave it believing they are nothing more than particles behaving according to laws of physics.leo

    :up:

    I believe many people are potentially open to this message but have never heard it. I desperately needed to hear this message during my scientific studies, but I was surrounded by scientists who boasted that their view is the truth and that anything going against it is essentially religious crackpottery. Took me a while to escape this madness and find some sanity in the words of philosophers such as Feyerabend who, unsurprisingly, was designated by many scientists as an enemy of science, or even the worst enemy of science, while all he was an enemy of was the bullshit that scientists spouted.leo

    Sounds familiar. :smile:

    And this message definitely hasn't been heard nearly enough, just need to look at some of the reactions in this thread.leo

    Yes. @StreetlightX clearly believes (below) there is a problem here. I wonder what it is? :chin:

    The OP and the article it champions is just another in a long line of dialectical tactics to shore up idealism by pushing the most vulgar of science as the most authoritative. Without doing so, it'd die the ignominious death it deserves.StreetlightX

    I can't think of better words to end this post than these:

    There is a closemindedness and oversimplification by this culture or significant subculture - and one that is really quite philosophically illiterate despite their intelligence - and this is problematic.Coben
  • Terrapin Station
    12.5k
    By contrast, experience, awareness and consciousness are taken to be secondary. The scientific task becomes about figuring out how to reduce them to something physical, such as the behaviour of neural networks, the architecture of computational systems, or some measure of information.

    Awareness/consciousness/experience are not taken to be "secondary." They're taken to be real (in the sense of "existent"), physical things, just like everything else. He's using "reduction" with at least a hint of a value judgment there, especially in combination with the "secondary" comment. Saying that consciousness is physical isn't diminishing it in any way or making it any less important.

    Re his "intractable problems," the first is no problem. It's simply a fact about perspective. Re the cliched old "never gives us nature as it is in itself," there's no way to know that without knowing that nature in itself is different than our perspective of it, but if we know that, then our perspective provides knowledge of nature in itself.

    Re his comment about physicalism, he's simply forwarding a strawman.

    In a nutshell, this article seems to be the same old crap mistakes, misunderstandings, misrepresentations, etc. that people, including thousands and thousands of faceless Internet chatters, message board posters, etc. have been making over and over for decades, despite being told otherwise by people whose views are supposedly being criticized. It comes across like sleazy-salesman-like apologetics tactics because of that, or most charitably, as some sort of mental block for understanding the "opposition's" views.

    Wouldn't it be more fruitful to have a discussion that proceeds from understanding (where we actually care about understanding) the other side's view, so that we could actually paraphrase the opposing view in a way that the opposition would agree with?
  • ssu
    1.5k
    Can be reduced to particles in the sense that "how mammals communicate" or "what the monetary policy ought to be" would be thoughts held by a human being, and these thoughts would correspond to a specific pattern of electrical activity in a brain, and that electrical activity would correspond to many electrons moving in some specific way.leo
    And that utterly fails to answer the actual questions. This kind of reductionism is simply totally and utterly useless.

    You see, you don't have to believe in emergentism of the spirit, but simple 'emergentism' emerging from the need to answer specific questions that rise from phenomena that simply cannot be answered by "root causes". Simply put it, physics cannot answer to every question there is in science. Hence the observation that everything is made of particles doesn't take us anywhere in a huge field of scientific topics. Add social sciences into the mix and physics is totally useless in those fields of inquiry.

    And the truth of course is that woo peddlers like the OP need science to be this reductive boogeyman all the better to leave breathing room for their own two-bit idealisms. Nothing is more terrifying to them than to learn that science itself repudiates these shitty reductive takes on science, least their own space of intellectual manouver is shrunk to nothing.StreetlightX
    I wouldn't speculate what the intensions are of our fellow site members, but just to give my point of view on things. Yet I can relate to this what you said above, StreetlightX.

    Having studied economics in the university, it's very easy to notice the superficial semi-ignorant criticism the field of economics gets with those typically criticizing the present. They typically argue that economics is devoid of anything other than maximization of wealth and Economists are the new priesthood of globalization etc. And in the end they purpose a more humane approach or whatever (and only loosely that is, not actually what it would be) that would make this inherently evil field of humanities better.

    Of course economists do very well know the deficiencies of their own field. Once a professor told us the joke of two economists going back home at night and the other one noticing that he has lost his keys. The other one walks back to a lamp post and starts looking for it there. "Do you think that I lost it there?" says the first person. "Not likely, but at least here I can see if they are here" responds the other one.

    And that's basically the reason why a lot of study has gone to economic markets with many similar small companies while the study of oligopolies, the actually prevailing economic market situation in the World, hasn't got much study. And the reason it's simply so complex and hard.

    So really, the real question is just what are saying to solve the problem one has shown to exist.
  • Fooloso4
    1k
    From the article:

    Whatever ‘physical’ means should be determined by physics and not armchair reflection ... We should expect further dramatic changes in our concept of physical reality in the future.

    It seems to me that if the authors took this seriously they would not argue about whether there is more than physical reality because, by their own admission, we do not understand what physical reality means. The fact that we do not have a physical explanation of consciousness, or any explanation of consciousness for that matter, does not mean that a satisfactory explanation will not be a physical explanation.

    While some will stand on the sidelines and kibitz about why a physical explanation is not possible, science continues to make progress in understanding the physical world. "Consciousness of the gaps" has joined and in some cases replaced "god of the gaps". In my opinion, it makes no sense to argue about what we will find when we arrive at somewhere we have never been.
  • leo
    585
    Simply put it, physics cannot answer to every question there is in science. Hence the observation that everything is made of particles doesn't take us anywhere in a huge field of scientific topics. Add social sciences into the mix and physics is totally useless in those fields of inquiry.ssu

    "everything is made of particles" is not an observation, it is a belief.

    Sure we can't use the laws of physics to derive how elephants behave in groups or what it's like to watch a sunset, but materialists would claim that in principle, it is possible.

    The subject is not about the usefulness of physics, it is about the belief of materialism that permeates the natural sciences, schools, and society, and how it neglects lived experience, which in the words of David Bohm leads "people who want to hold onto spirituality to be incoherent in various aspects of their lives" and to a loss of meaning.

    Materialism tells us we are nothing more than a bunch of particles moving according to unchanging laws, which implies that choice and will are an illusion and which leaves no place to spirituality. The problem is that many believe that science shows materialism to be true, including many scientists, while this is not the case, and that's what the article in the OP is about.
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