• magritte
    145
    I'm not sold either! It's just something else to ponder. The challenge is how to keep up with revolutionary progress in the sciences with static models. How do we explain even simple demonstrations of magnetism?
  • Todd Martin
    34
    I read the posts here, sometimes by ppl who are regulars, having posted thousands of times, sometimes by ones who have remarked a few hundred, sometimes, rarely, by someone who has just begun digesting the quality of this venue, like myself, and all I see are abstruse incoherent references to either modern or ancient ideas and theories or both, sometimes actually citing Greek or Latin terms as though they had read the works in the original languages; how many of you have read Seneca’s Letters to Lucilius, or his Dialogues? how many the Gospels in the original Greek? It all comes off as a sort of facade, whoever can appear to be more sophisticated or knowledgeable than his adversary...
    ...I am compelled to agree with a certain late professor of political philosophy who proclaimed that, “we may be witnessing the end (of philosophy)”.
  • jgill
    888
    I sometimes wonder if philosophy can really contribute anything about the quantum world. All the talk of waves and excitations and duality hasn't brought clarity to that tiny kingdom. It may be that Max Tegmark's mathematical universe ideas actually exist and the understanding of quantum phenomena is nothing more than understanding the mathematics that yields predictable results. And that mathematical edifice is, at present, not adequately described by existing mathematical applications.

    What was it Feynman said about it? That it was kind of dippy. One should not have to regularize or renormalize in such bizarre ways to get predictive results. Once the true mathematical structure is found, then it may be the only way to "understand" quantum science.
  • SophistiCat
    1.5k
    I'm not sold either! It's just something else to ponder. The challenge is how to keep up with revolutionary progress in the sciences with static models. How do we explain even simple demonstrations of magnetism?magritte

    One can't usefully make general statements about the state of philosophy, but it is not like the progress of science is universally ignored - certainly not by those who specialize in modern science, but more besides. Obviously, Darwinism and Einstein's relativity have had a pronounced effect on philosophy (for better or for worse).

    Speaking of QM, I recently came across this entertaining survey from F.A. Muller: The Influence of Quantum Physics on Philosophy. He concludes thus:

    Although quantum physics has influenced philosophy in the sense that it has grown a new flourishing and blossoming branch of the tree of philosophy, apart from some recent contact between philosophy of physics and metaphysics, quantum physics has had hardly any influence on philosophy at all, and at best some influence on metaphysics, mostly in recent times. With regard to prominent issues intensely thought about by philosophers, such as those on the Chalmers-Bourget list [referring to their 2014 survey "What do philosophers believe?" - SC], we dare conclude that it is difficult to see how quantum physics could bear on those issues. If it cannot, it ought not, for ought implies can. — F.A. Muller
  • Banno
    9.9k
    I once had a discussion with a man who I finally forced to confess that he believed a human being was not, essentially, any better than a rock; so I asked him, “so you don’t mind if I kick you around in the argument a little?”,...and he was offended!Todd Martin
    I like that.

    You might use the "@" button when naming someone; then they will receive a notification.

    I am not guilty of the reductionism that you describe.
  • ssu
    3.5k
    Obviously, Darwinism and Einstein's relativity have had a pronounced effect on philosophy (for better or for worse).SophistiCat
    Was it Kant earlier that went a bit astray when referring to Euclidian geometry and not knowing that later non-Euclidian geometry would be a hot topic in math? Philosophers can relate to science, but basing philosophy on science can be a tricky thing as our scientific understanding can change a lot. Still, why the connection?

    The reason is very naive and simple:

    People tend simply to think that physics, Quantum Mechanics, cosmology etc. are somehow close to the basic philosophical questions, hence we let physicists blabber about philosophical question, things that they actually have not studied or worked on. It's actually not their fault: it's the media who asks them. And they (the physicists) can see that people are interested in books about the great questions written by them, if they have been picked up by the media and are known to the public. No philosopher will have similar popularity describing his actual field of inquiry. Hence the result of these physicists pondering philosophical questions is typically quite poor: they give answers that actually some age of enlightenment philosopher basically said ages ago better with only being mixed with the field of study that the physics works on.

    I think it all shows that philosophers are a bit lost and the post-modern bullshit won't help.
  • Nancy38
    1
    If you delve into the history of physics, you will see that physics and philosophy are related.
  • SophistiCat
    1.5k
    Philosophers can relate to science, but basing philosophy on science can be a tricky thing as our scientific understanding can change a lot.ssu

    Well, what would we base it on then? We obviously cannot assume that the current state of science is the last word and the whole truth about nature. But ignoring science would be an even bigger blunder. We just have to live with the fact that philosophy is no less contingent than science.

    People tend simply to think that physics, Quantum Mechanics, cosmology etc. are somehow close to the basic philosophical questions, hence we let physicists blabber about philosophical question, things that they actually have not studied or worked on.ssu

    There is a reason why so-called fundamental physics is often thought to have an intimate connection with basic metaphysical questions (cf. physicalism, metaphysical and ontological grounding...) For example, while it is not a given that the ontology of fundamental physics has some sort of metaphysical priority, it is a popular enough notion.

    But more to the point of your complaint, as I pointed out above, science cannot be too far removed from philosophical questions. When scientists attempt to make sense of nature and come up with theories about it, they are not doing anything different in principle than what philosophers do when they turn to the same subjects. It is only relatively recently that academic and technological specialization bracketed off certain methods of study and called them "science."

    Still, if we view science as a branch or outgrowth of philosophy, then professional scientists, as a rule, have a much more narrow specialization than professional philosophers. This is why we find that scientifically literate philosophers are usually in a superior position when they philosophize about nature outside of the narrow scientific context, while, as a rule, professional scientists appear to be dilettantes in these matters. But that is when science is in a quasi-stable state, when no major paradigmatic changes are under way and well-informed philosophers can stay up-to-date with the state of science. Conversely, when you look at the history of thought, most important new developments in the thinking about nature were driven by developments in science.
  • ssu
    3.5k
    Well, what would we base it on then? We obviously cannot assume that the current state of science is the last word and the whole truth about nature.SophistiCat
    For starters, remembering just what you said there: the current state of science isn't the last word or the truth about nature. Hence don't make your philosophy totally dependent of the current science of the present.

    Hence if you are making a philosophical argument, far better to base it on previous philosophical inquiry on the question at hand. If the advances in science make that past views antiquated, that is then a different thing. But usually it isn't so: much that the philosopher of the Enlightenment said is current even today, even if the natural sciences of that time have evolved.

    There is a reason why so-called fundamental physics is often thought to have an intimate connection with basic metaphysical questions (cf. physicalism, metaphysical and ontological grounding...) For example, while it is not a given that the ontology of fundamental physics has some sort of metaphysical priority, it is a popular enough notion.SophistiCat

    I would ask why would it be so. Because philosophy has debated already for long the problems of physicalism and materialism. And the pseudo-scientific world view was about a "Clock-work universe" and then this changed to "Multiverse" with Butterfly-effects, it really isn't pure philosophy. For me it's the questions we ask that define our answers, not an interesting scientific theory that gets people to mold their world-views to fit that theory.

    Still, if we view science as a branch or outgrowth of philosophy, then professional scientists, as a rule, have a much more narrow specialization than professional philosophers.SophistiCat
    Well, if philosophy means love of wisdom, the link to science should be obvious. Just as PhD is is short for Doctor of Philosophy. Yet the problem is that when philosophers have a broader view, that makes it far more difficult to understand things you are handling.

    Conversely, when you look at the history of thought, most important new developments in the thinking about nature were driven by developments in science.SophistiCat
    Yet Is philosophy just thinking about nature? Natural sciences answer more directly to what nature is, yet any question of "what should be" and you need philosophy.
  • SophistiCat
    1.5k
    Hence if you are making a philosophical argument, far better to base it on previous philosophical inquiry on the question at hand.ssu

    That's a terrible idea. I just can't think of a single advantage in rejecting the fruits of the most productive period in the history of scientific thought and empirical research in favor of recycling past ideas. Ideas, which themselves were, of course, to a great extent informed by observations and scientific ideas of their time and times past.

    I would ask why would it be so. Because philosophy has debated already for long the problems of physicalism and materialism. And the pseudo-scientific world view was about a "Clock-work universe" and then this changed to "Multiverse" with Butterfly-effects, it really isn't pure philosophy.ssu

    I say good riddance to "pure philosophy" (if there ever was such a thing, which of course there wasn't - see above). Of course, my idea of a scientifically literate philosopher is not one whose ideas about science come from popular media publications and, God help us, Butterfly Effect. Fortunately, in actuality there is no lack of philosophers who are better informed about their subject matter (see, for example, some names from the three generations of philosophers of physics in the paper that I linked above, which include actual physics PhDs).

    Yet Is philosophy just thinking about nature? Natural sciences answer more directly to what nature is, yet any question of "what should be" and you need philosophy.ssu

    No argument here - except, of course, where philosophers choose the naturalizing approach.
  • ssu
    3.5k
    I just can't think of a single advantage in rejecting the fruits of the most productive period in the history of scientific thought and empirical research in favor of recycling past ideas. Ideas, which themselves were, of course, to a great extent informed by observations and scientific ideas of their time and times past.SophistiCat
    Well, you seem not to hold philosophy in high regard compared to natural sciences. But just like "pure math" isn't at all dismissed by natural science, I think especially analytical philosophy and formal logic has it's place also.

    And I'm surely not dismissing science or taking the view that science wouldn't matter. What I just oppose is the simple reductionism of the view that If physics at the nuclear level uses QM, the QM should be used as an overall philosophy, because... at the nuclear level physics uses QM. Hope you get my point.
  • SophistiCat
    1.5k
    Well, you seem not to hold philosophy in high regard compared to natural sciences.ssu

    I am not denigrating philosophy. But since we have this specialization and division of labor, philosophers should be using scientific results and ideas where it is appropriate - for example, when discussing the metaphysics of space and time (e.g. The Ontology of Spacetime ed. D. Dieks.)

    What I just oppose is the simple reductionism of the view that If physics at the nuclear level uses QM, the QM should be used as an overall philosophyssu

    Well, that is one view, but it is not the only view, and it is not just taken for granted because science.
  • ssu
    3.5k
    But since we have this specialization and division of labor, philosophers should be using scientific results and ideas where it is appropriateSophistiCat
    When it is appropriate. That's all I want to say.
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