Thought Experiments

23
Apr

Why Physics Needs Philosophy

How can we understand the world in which we find ourselves? How does the universe behave? What is the nature of reality?….Traditionally these are questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead. Philosophy has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly physics. Scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge. —Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow

This passage from the 2012 book “The Grand Design” set off a firestorm (or at least a brushfire) of controversy. Has philosophy been eclipsed by science in the quest for understanding reality? Is philosophy just dressed-up mysticism, disconnected from scientific understanding?

Many questions about the nature of reality cannot be properly pursued without contemporary physics. Inquiry into the fundamental structure of space, time and matter must take account of the theory of relativity and quantum theory. Philosophers accept this. In fact, several leading philosophers of physics hold doctorates in physics. Yet they chose to affiliate with philosophy departments rather than physics departments because so many physicists strongly discourage questions about the nature of reality. The reigning attitude in physics has been “shut up and calculate”: solve the equations, and do not ask questions about what they mean.

Plato_Seneca_Aristotle_medieval620
Plato, Seneca, and Aristotle in an illustration from a medieval manuscript. Public domain.

But putting computation ahead of conceptual clarity can lead to confusion. Take, for example, relativity’s iconic “twin paradox.” Identical twins separate from each other and later reunite. When they meet again, one twin is biologically older than the other. (Astronaut twins Scott and Mark Kelly are about to realize this experiment: when Scott returns from a year in orbit in 2016 he will be about 28 microseconds younger than Mark, who is staying on Earth.) No competent physicist would make an error in computing the magnitude of this effect.

But even the great Richard Feynman did not always get the explanation right. In “The Feynman Lectures on Physics,” he attributes the difference in ages to the acceleration one twin experiences: the twin who accelerates ends up younger. But it is easy to describe cases where the opposite is true, and even cases where neither twin accelerates but they end up different ages. The calculation can be right and the accompanying explanation wrong.

If your goal is only to calculate, this might be sufficient. But understanding existing theories and formulating new ones requires more. Einstein arrived at the theory of relativity by reflecting on conceptual problems rather than on empirical ones. He was primarily bothered by explanatory asymmetries in classical electromagnetic theory. Physicists before Einstein knew, for instance, that moving a magnet in or near a coil of wire would induce an electric current in the coil. But the classical explanation for this effect appeared to be entirely different when the motion was ascribed to the magnet as opposed to the coil; the reality is that the effect depends only on the relative motion of the two. Resolving the explanatory asymmetry required rethinking the notion of simultaneity and rejecting the classical account of space and time. It required the theory of relativity.

Comprehending quantum theory is an even deeper challenge. What does quantum theory imply about “the nature of reality?” Scientists do not agree about the answer; they even disagree about whether it is a sensible question.

The problems surrounding quantum theory are not mathematical. They stem instead from the unacceptable terminology that appears in presentations of the theory. Physical theories ought to be stated in precise terminology, free of ambiguity and vagueness. John Bell provides a list of insufficiently clear concepts in his essay “Against ‘measurement’”:

Here are some words which, however legitimate and necessary in application, have no place in a formulation with any pretension to physical precision: system, apparatus, environment, microscopic, macroscopic, reversible, irreversible, observable, information, measurement.

Textbook expositions of quantum theory make free use of these forbidden terms. But how, in the end, are we to determine whether something is a “system”, or is large enough to count as “macroscopic,” or whether an interaction constitutes a “measurement?” Bell’s fastidiousness about language is the outward expression of his concern about concepts. Sharp physical theories cannot be built out of vague notions.

Philosophers strive for conceptual clarity. Their training instills certain habits of thought—sensitivity to ambiguity, precision of expression, attention to theoretical detail—that are essential for understanding what a mathematical formalism might suggest about the actual world. Philosophers also learn to spot the gaps and elisions in everyday arguments. These gaps provide entry points for conceptual wedges: nooks where overlooked alternatives can take root and grow. The “shut up and calculate” ethos does not promote this critical attitude toward arguments; philosophy does.

What philosophy offers to science, then, is not mystical ideas but meticulous method. Philosophical skepticism focuses attention on the conceptual weak points in theories and in arguments. It encourages exploration of alternative explanations and new theoretical approaches. Philosophers obsess over subtle ambiguities of language and over what follows from what. When the foundations of a discipline are secure this may be counter-productive: just get on with the job to be done! But where secure foundations (or new foundations) are needed, critical scrutiny can suggest the way forward. The search for ways to marry quantum theory with general relativity would surely benefit from precisely articulated accounts of the foundational concepts of these theories, even if only to suggest what must be altered or abandoned.

Philosophical skepticism arises from the theory of knowledge, the branch of philosophy called “epistemology.” Epistemology studies the grounds for our beliefs and the sources of our concepts. It often reveals tacit presuppositions that may prove wrong, sources of doubt about how much we really know. Having started with Hawking, let’s let Einstein have the last word:

How does it happen that a properly endowed natural scientist comes to concern himself with epistemology? Is there no more valuable work in his specialty? I hear many of my colleagues saying, and I sense it from many more, that they feel this way. I cannot share this sentiment….

Concepts that have proven useful in ordering things easily achieve such an authority over us that we forget their earthly origins and accept them as unalterable givens. Thus they come to be stamped as “necessities of thought,” “a priori givens,” etc. The path of scientific advance is often made impassable for a long time through such errors. For that reason, it is by no means an idle game if we become practiced in analyzing the long commonplace concepts and exhibiting those circumstances upon which their justification and usefulness depend, how they have grown up, individually, out of the givens of experience. By this means, their all-too-great authority will be broken.

Go Deeper
Editor’s picks for further reading

3:AM Magazine: on the foundations of physics
Tim Maudlin talks about the relationship between physics and philosophy in this interview with Richard Marshall.

The Nature of Reality: Debating the Meaning of Quantum Mechanics
Discover some of the many competing ways physicists interpret the equations of quantum mechanics.

New York Academy of Sciences: Transcending Matter: Physics and Ultimate Meaning
Panelists Tim Maudlin, Priya Natarajan, Adam Frank, and David Kaiser discuss the intersection of physics and philosophy.

Tell us what you think on Twitter, Facebook, or email.

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Tim Maudlin

    Tim Maudlin is Professor of Philosophy at New York University. He received his B. A. in Physics and Philosophy from Yale and his Ph.D. in History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Pittsburgh. His work centers on the interpretation of physical theory: how the mathematical structures used in physics may be understood as presenting a physical account of the world. His most recent books are "Philosophy of Physics: Space and Time and New Foundations for Physical Geometry." He is a Guggenheim fellow, and a member of the Academie Internationale de Philosophie des Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

    • Mark W. Ota

      The best solutions encompass the most contingencies, this is lost in the exacting mathematics of hard science. A consilience of science and philosophy in search of truths is a natural progression of both disciplines.

    • Turing_Test

      The incommensurability of physical theories throughout history (including now) should be enough to warrant philosophical meta-analysis of such theories. How can we hope to decide which theories are more useful than the others and on what grounds? Physics offers no criteria for such decisions. Moreover calculations are not discourse. They must be translated into (at least somewhat) ordinary language for their value to be apprehended. Since there is no ordinary language that can mirror the preciseness of mathematics some device of translation must be used. I’m aware of no such device.

      • Randy Bolo

        Information always gets lost with each new translation. A translation can never be perfect and retain all the original data, because it’s not a perfect copy of it. On the human scale where information is always lost, we are always doomed to some level of ignorance. Only God has all awareness and perfect knowledge. Think about all the things happening around you right now, especially if you live in a city. You are barely aware of your own life, much less the millions of things happening around you. Not having total informational awareness will always lead to imperfect/flawed decision making. We see this problem plague the medical field all the time.

        • Turing_Test

          I didn’t say anything about perfect translations. I merely pointed out that a translation needs to occur if anyone other than the one(s) performing the calculation(s) are to derive any value from it/them. I serve no god and neither do you!

          • Greg Johnson

            Everyone serves some “god,” including you.

            • Turing_Test

              Routine tactic of someone who lives a life of dishonesty. Say something completely vague and try to sound profound while doing it. Is this how you keep yourself convinced?

            • Greg Johnson

              Routine non-answer by someone who thinks changing the subject and a snarky little personal attack make him appear smart and/or witty.

            • Turing_Test

              Please. You said absolutely nothing clear or sincere in that comment. What is it that I should be answering? Without further clarification your comment was obviously empty of meaning.

        • Hominid

          Right except for the silly god part.

          • Turing_Test

            I was making fun of a previous commenter.

        • Hominid

          Medicine is science-based, but it’s not science. And, yes – language is the bane of science because (1) it is unavoidably ambiguous and (2) event descriptions are unbounded because everything exists in a continuous matrix of time and space.

      • Hominid

        We ‘decide’ usefulness on the degree to which a theory predicts – i.e., through experiment and, ultimately, engineering – not through “philosophical meta-analyses” (whatever that might mean). Philosophy holds no value for science.

        • Turing_Test

          I’m sure many would disagree considering that they find speculative theories (string theory, M-theory, etc) to be useful even though they have little to no predictive power. And where do you think that criterion came from? Science doesn’t define itself. It doesn’t define its own methods, its own limits, its own usefulness or its own ethics. It can’t address problems like demarcation or incommensurability. That is what philosophy does.

          • Hominid

            “Useful” in what way? You’re loony – if they’re not predictive, they’re by definition NOT useful. Science does not “define” anything, dummy – people do. Who said science can address nonsense? Certainly not me! Philosophy does NOTHING for science because it’s rank speculation and arbitrary BS.

            • TexasStomp

              On caveat, H. People like Asimov and Dillard took the fruits of scientific discovery and incorporated them into philosophical works. (I’m referring to “I Robot” and “Pilgrim At Tinker Creek.”) while writers like Crichton and Roddenberry use current scientific theory in their fiction novels.

            • Hominid

              Your point? Science benefits philosophizing & entertainment?

            • Turing_Test

              ‘”Useful” in what way? You’re loony – if they’re not predictive, they’re by definition NOT useful'”

              A theory can be useful, even if it has no real predictive power, if it gives insight into new theories, fields or paradigms that can produce more applicable models. I agree that it is debatable whether such theories should indeed be called “theories” given their lack of falsifiability, and that is an issue of philosophy.

              “Science does not “define” anything, dummy – people do”

              Obviously people define things. Saying, “science doesn’t define x” means that people cannot define x using only science. Since that’s plainly obvious I’ll assume you are simply trolling here.

              “Who said science can address nonsense? Certainly not me!”

              Neither did I.

              “Philosophy does NOTHING for science because it’s rank speculation and arbitrary BS”

              This is either complete ignorance or more trolling. I’ll let you pick. Just in case it’s the former here’s a really short and quick overview of what Philosophy of Science does:

              http://undsci.berkeley.edu/article/philosophy

            • Hominid

              You’re just blathering.

            • Turing_Test

              You are mistaken.

            • Turing_Test

              You are mistaken.

            • Turing_Test

              I respectfully disagree.

    • Andrew

      I disagree with your assessment that the ethos of physics is “shut up and calculate”. This is certainly true in first year physics, and even many BSc level classes, and this is because a vast fundamental understanding is required to move beyond this and really make novel contributions. The vast majority of people do not acquire so much knowledge, so they are told just to take the speaker’s word for it.

      I would argue that the skepticism you praise is already found in [some] physicists, and scientists in general, who perform research at higher levels. They actively seek alternative explanations, and in fact, that is a highly desirable trait which distinguishes “good” scientists who go to be successful, and “bad” ones who end up doing more repetitive technician level work. That is one thing I enjoy about my work: disagreeing with my colleagues and arguing every possible explanation for a result! In my experience no “shut up and calculate” scientists make it very far advancing our understanding of the world.

      • Kafele

        Thank you for this. I agree completely with what you have to say about this article. There is so much more to physics than “shut up and calculate”, and, this article is acting like it all has to do with philosophy.

      • Gloria

        DO you really think repetitive technician level work is “bad” scientists?

        • Andrew

          I meant “bad” in the context of this article, which I disagree with, and is why I used quotations. Even so, technician level work requires a substantial scientific background and critical thinking, but not at the same level as more fundamental research. In the end research is a collaborative effort requiring scientists working and functioning at multiple levels.

          • Gloria Springer

            Appreciate your perspective and this clarity.

        • Hominid

          “Repetitive technician work” is NOT science. Work is a necessary adjunct to accomplishing all manner of chores – it’s neither peculiar to nor characteristic of science.

      • Harry

        That’s not Maudlin’s point. Surely, many physicists are doing an admirable job of trying to make sense, conceptually, of their results. Likewise, many philosophers are actively trying to do empirical research to support their claims. But experimental philosophy has not been as rigorous as analogous psychological study, for the simple reason that philosophers are trained to work with concepts, not subjects. Similarly, even the most advanced physicists just do not have the conceptual fluency that philosophers have.

        • Hominid

          What’s “experimental philosophy”? You’re either redefining philosophy in some unconventional way or your talking nonsense. How do philosophers “try to do empirical research”?

      • Hominid

        The line between philosophy and theoretical physics is indeed blurry. That’s why theoretical physics is bullshit.

        • http://www.laschobersovich.com Klaus Mager

          I guess Einstein, Newton et al would disagree with you on that. Every major discovery was the result of a theory / hypothesis proved correct. Even your hominid should have caught on to that by now.

          • Hominid

            Nope! To paraphrase Rich Feynman – philosophy is as useful to science as ornithology is to birds. You don’t know what you’re talking about.

            • Yam Yaryan

              Philosophy being defined as the search for the meaning of existence and Truth would make it a perfect partner. Get off your high horse. Higher mathematics started out with the conceptual tool, the NUMBER, as its search engine. There are no numbers except in the imaginary world of concepts, and they are the highest language of the metaphysical process, the realm of the philosopher.

            • Hominid

              Gibberish.

            • Yam Yaryan

              Show me a number in its natural state…let’s see if what I’m saying is gibberish.

            • Hominid

              See my post above. I’m not defending the validity of maths as a description of reality. I’m denouncing philosophy as rank speculation – and I’m not even willing to debate mysticism.

            • Yam Yaryan

              Concepts, in their initial birth form are “rank speculation” are they not?

            • Hominid

              Nope. Ever heard of inductive reasoning?

            • Yam Yaryan

              It ALL starts with metaphysics….the essence of philosophical thought.

            • Bénjamin Paolo Stadtaffe

              bro, Popper proved the very concept of your “inductive reasoning” to be gibberish and irrational about half a century ago… checketh thoughself mate

            • Hominid

              You don’t know what you’re talking about.

            • Yam Yaryan

              Every single unproven scientific fact started as rank speculation. Rank speculation is what drives science.

            • Hominid

              Absolutely NOT. You’re clueless.

            • Yam Yaryan

              Your entire discipline is totally reliant on a conceptual vehicle, whether you want to admit it or not. Numbers are metaphysical, and, if you’re claiming they’re not, just try to show me an empirical example of one. It is impossible. They are only symbols that give a conceptual premise a physical manifestation.

            • Hominid

              So what? Numbers are not science. Math is a TOOL used by scientists and any number of other disciplines. Math is NOT science.

            • Yam Yaryan

              Science is NOTHING without NUMBERS, a metaphysical creation. Just admit you’re wrong and move onward.

            • mjollnir

              I think you’re right (or Feynman was). The problem comes when the birds start claiming they understand ornithology well enough to write books about it (Hawking, Dawkins etc. etc.)… and naïve people take them seriously! Or the birds get above themselves and start claiming they know that all ornithology is nonsense. Birds should stick to being birds and leave ornithology to humans.

            • Hominid

              Yes. I already made that first point above when I said ‘The line between philosophy and theoretical physics is indeed blurry.’

              There’s nothing wrong with philosophy – with speculating about the nature of man & the universe in light of knowledge – as long as one understands what he’s doing is fantasizing. My point is that it isn’t in any way useful to science nor a substitute for science. It’s just the mind having fun.

              You raise a big problem, however, i.e., that the ‘folks’ all too often uncritically accept philosophizing for ‘truth.’

    • Randy Bolo

      Philosophy is like masterbation, it feels good until you realize you’re only f*cking yourself. We serve an awesome God!

      • ThomasKirk

        “God”: The ultimate masturbatory fantasy.

        • Turing_Test

          Now, now…if anyone’s a mental masturbator it’s god, thinking all of this nonsense into existence just for his own pleasure.

      • Berttalk

        You mean the God that watches Men rape little boys in his churches and does nothing about it? Or is it the God that sits by while Girls are kidnapped, drugged and used for sexual toilets their entire lives because that was apparently Gods plan for them since god has a plan for everyone? So no doubt the argument is that it is Man that does these Evils not God but then is not Man the image of God in your religion. So then How is it that Evil comes from the Image of God and How is God all loving to his Children if he watches his children be the subject torcher and butchery and yet does nothing but watch? Certainly as a Parent I object to such a God. If I am required to choose My Child or God, I will Choose my Child and fear not the consequence to myself. For I value my child’s mortal life and protection more then I value any fear or wish for eternity. I love my parents however they know I love my children more and in fact they would not want it any other way. For they see as I do greater value and responsibility to their grandchildren then they do to their own lives. So why should I love my so called Father in Heaven more then my Child. I have no responsibility to protect such a being my responsibility is to my children over any wish of any individual or being. If your God can not understand that then your God is not a God I would wish to have a relationship to.

        • Guest

          God, however benevolent and merciful, will never do anything to supersede our agency. He realizes that this is THE ONLY way for us as his Children to progress, and ultimately reach our potential. Yes, extraordinarily bad things can happen as a result, and it pains him(God) immensely to witness these things and exercise the restraint from intervening. However, perfect Justice shall be executed and perfect Mercy shall be given to all of us based on how we use this agency.

          • Berttalk

            So your saying that the claim God has a plan for each of us is mistaken? Since most Christians seem to believe that God has a plan for each of us.
            However that is difficult to believe when children, and babies or even many adults have no hand in the terrible suffering they experience. Which would indicate either Gods plan for them sucks or there is no plan at least not for what happens on Earth.
            I actually try to respect peoples belief in a Super Natural being and I am not apposed to their believing. However this was in response to a fairly rude comment on a science site so I was inspired to challenge the argument.
            I have no desire to attempt to shake anyone’s faith as long as they understand it is their belief system and others are not required to believe with them. I have issues with the Christian belief of a perfect, all powerful and all loving god on many moral and scientific reality levels. Based on what I have read of the bible, how Christians interpret their god and most damaging how the idea does not fit logically into the scientific realities of our universe.
            That being said I do see a great deal of positive teachings (though negative ones as well) from the Bible and what the bible writes were Jesus’s teachings. I find Christians seem to ignore the teaching of Jesus and are more interested in making Jesus their Idol however especially in this country.
            So in closing your response was not a rude response but one based on your belief and I respect the perspective you bring. I wish you well and I admit I was a little concerned responding the way I did since I really don’t desire to challenge peoples faith.

            • Paul Pablo

              No you were not concerned about the way you responded hypocrite. I used your “agency” already and that goes to show you that you fear Justice and that there will be no mercy for you.

            • Berttalk

              Hello Paul,
              You say you used my “agency” already. However I don’t recall responding or even reading any of your comments unless you are actually the individual who responded as guest. Is that the case? I would like to be clear to whom I’m speaking.
              You call me a hypocrite because I indicated a rude comment was posted on this site. So my response, you considered a rude response?
              I have to ask though is either of my responses rude? My responses do challenge the belief that a perfect, all knowing, all powerful, all loving, being has a plan for everyone on the planet. And is influencing every aspect of our lives.
              While at the same time allowing children to experience torcher and butchery.
              So is it rude to ask this question in the way that I did? If so why do you consider it rude? Fundamentally there are some bedrock reasons I do not accept the Christian god faith. This concept of a moral god that allows these things to happen is one of those bedrock reasons I don’t accept the Christian faith.
              Does it seem harsh the questions I pose? Yea, I think it does and that is why I don’t ask this question of the average Christian I meet. I do not go around trying to convert people to my doubts about their belief in a Christian god. I do not go to faith sites and challenge their beliefs. I love the study of science, if fascinates me what we are learning on so many levels.
              I have no problem with a person who believes in Christianity or another faith commenting in the scientific sites such as this.
              I actually think it can make for some interesting conversations. In fact Mr. Randy Bolo who I originally responded to had an earlier comment which fits well into that category. His speaking of information lost with each new translation is a very solid concept.
              Should I have responded to that comment with a scientific perspective instead of the later comment? Yes!
              However this question of the morality of god does perplex me. I often do wonder how people ignore the logical fallacies within the Christian faith while at the same time challenging scientific gaps. So if an individual comes to a site discussing science and challenges the study of science or in this case philosophy with their idea of god do I not have a right to equally challenge their beliefs.
              So this question of the Morality of the Christian god. Many a human being is damaged and traumatized their entire lives by what they experience as children. Many others live as sexual, and economic slaves under the threat of brutality their entire lives with no opportunity at freedom to become better human beings.
              By the vary nature of the God described by Christians. He must be both a witness to every moment of the suffering and posses the power to intervene by infinite possibilities. All that you and I can do is imagine the level of torcher and suffering that these babies must experience over not some short period of time but in some cases their entire lives and every day for year upon year. All the while God is seeing it happen and does not intervene. Yet if any of us were to be such a witness and did nothing to try to intervene how then would we be judged? Is this not the height of hypocrisy?
              So then what is my “Agency”? Fear justice? No, I would like to justice for the oppressed, I would like them to be protected. I can only imagine that you are saying I am an agent of your devil or evil? So it is okay to question philosophy and Scientific understanding however questioning your beliefs makes me the agent of the devil?

            • Paul Pablo

              I am not “guest”. You can question anything you want just as I am questioning you. Made a correction, you used your agency with every action take. It is obvious that you don’t understand that God created humans free. Therefore you have a choice to act. ” perfect Justice shall be executed and perfect Mercy shall be given to all of us based on how we use this agency.”

            • Berttalk

              Fair enough. I do not have a desire to challenge your or anyone’s beliefs in god or spiritual beliefs.
              I took offense to the disrespect the original comment showed to the concepts others consider valuable and important. For he who cast the first stone should not live in a glass house. I respect your belief that the aspect of evil is allowed to propogate by the means of allowing for free will. I don’t except this necessarily but that is my personal opinion. I have no need to try to convince others of my views and understanding. I do take offense when those in the camp of God controls all so we need not consider reality. start trying to dismiss others opinions in a conversation of what is basically a science based discussion.

            • Greg Johnson

              So if I understand your primary complaint with God — supposing for a moment that there really exists such an entity — is that he is not “good” enough. Would that accurately summarize your position?

            • Berttalk

              Hello Greg,

              I appreciate your questions.

              First the morality question is one issue I have with the belief system. However I would not describe it as the reason I do not believe in the Christian description of the one and only God.
              I think having children of my own and having seen the horrible atrocities wrought on the powerless this issue has become a major one for me.

              However I would say fundamentally my disbelief resides in the disconnect of the realities of the universe in which we live and the description the Bible indicates. As well as what I see as the logical fallacies of the Perfect omnipotent god concept.

              I think maybe a believer might think that I actually believe in god but have anger in me toward him.
              This is not the case. I have a problem with the fallacy of the logic.
              It seems most modern Christians in this country have a concept of a god that is intimately involved in every aspect of their lives. However if that were the case then there seems to be a disconnect as to what happens to the victims I have mentioned.
              So I actually don’t believe the bible indicates god playing string quartet at our symphony. In fact I don’t believe that is the concept understood in more ancient times or the message that is conveyed in the bible. However that seems to be the idea that currently holds sway in this countries Christian community.
              So if a Christian says to me I believe in the almighty however God is no puppet master. I would say this person has a more enlightened view of his Christian belief. So you would say yes this is what it means to have free will.
              However if god is directing your entire life how could it be free will that you are following. Also what free will is given to those that have their freedom robbed of them by the atrocities of others. Often the damage to their mental state so profound they can never truly recover to be the person they should of been meant to be.

            • Hominid

              More like he is not “god” enough!

          • Turing_Test

            You do not know this. Speaking about it as if you do is purely dishonest (or crazy).

            • Nag Hammadi

              Nor do you know that he doesn’t know….

            • Turing_Test

              Of course I do. He makes claims about what an omni-god is thinking and its intentions. These are things he cannot provide justification for. Justification is required for knowledge.

            • Nag Hammadi

              God is within us… but as for what’s in you, I know a good exorcist. He uses black powder enemas with a 100% cure rate :-)

            • Turing_Test

              I’m hoping that you’re just a troll (not that another troll is a good thing) because the alternative is just too sad to contemplate.

          • Nag Hammadi

            Thank you

        • mantelar

          i think the issue here is simply in belief…not in god, specifically, but in an afterlife. christians believe in an afterlife and that access to it requires faith in this life. if you truly believe this, in the end, even the smallest lessons are worth being purchased by incomprehensible amounts of pain. if you do not believe this, then even the smallest amounts of pain will in the end paint god in a barbarically arbitrary and cruel light. i am personally agnostic, but i have no reason to believe in an afterlife. based on my observation of nature, i rather like C.S. Lewis’ characterization of the personality of God being best understood as that of a lion…noble, majestic, and utterly terrifying. if i am right about there being a god, i fear his (i really don’t care if this offends you…not even a little bit) mind is utterly unlike ours and his purposes perhaps incomprehensible as a result. one thing is for certain, however – he’s willing to accept absolutely massive amounts of pain, suffering, and evil in this world.

          • Berttalk

            Christians Believe in a perfect, all knowing, all powerful, all loving, Omnipotent god. They believe in an a God that is at once both all loving but also jealous, vengeful and judgmental. A god that has a plan for everyone and is guiding every detail of their lives while at the same time will not interfere when the most vulnerable of us is exposed to worst fantasies of the sadistic.
            The god you describe I do not take any offence to as the god you describe is not the god of Christianity. I have not challenged the belief in an afterlife I have challenged the morality of the Christian god. Do I fear I will be punished by the Christians god for my challenge. No, because I am totally convinced such a god does not exist, could not exist and therefore is not a consideration.
            Could something exist that we would interpret as a God. From my perspective its a possibility until proven otherwise. However it is just as likely there is no such universal being. I would suggest your description if such a being exists is much closer to reality then the Christians God. I would say that if we were to assume there may be a god then we should look to the reality we live within to identify its nature.

            • Hominid

              God is logically impossible. The moment one begins to define god, it ceases to be god.

            • Berttalk

              I pretty much agree with your comment. I guess it depends on ones view of what it requires to be a god.
              So while I agree the perfect omnipotent god creating us as in the Christian belief is a bit of a logical fallacy.
              It is not impossible to imagine that life itself is god. As life created us. So the question ends up what is life. Is it just a chemical process that became a biological process.
              Or is life an energy the causes the chemical processes or harbors within the result of chemical processes. So one could imagine life as an energy that is every bit as real as electromagnetism or gravity. It could be every where in the universe and life that we see is just the manifestation of that energy. Just as a lightning bolt is the manifestation of electromagnetic energy.
              As for the Omnipotent all knowing god. Well the fallacy is. If a god knows all then the god knows every moment and every action we could and would take from the beginning of time to the end. So it seems illogical to create a rerun of events when all events are known. So for God to be Omnipotent and all knowing. It would require us to simply be a thought in gods mind. Our existence is only as the reality of gods thoughts. One of an infinite variety of thoughts an Omnipotent Perfect all knowing being would have.

            • Hominid

              The capacities of the human brain are selected for their survival & reproductive value, just like any other trait. There is no value in understanding the ‘meaning’ of life or understanding the ‘theory of everything.’ There is no necessity to understand ‘reality’ – only those representations of reality that are correlate with survival & reproductive success (and, there’s a great room for error in that paradigm).

              It’s like sex – we do sex because Mother Nature makes it fun – i.e., we’re driven to copulate. We don’t do it because we see the value of reproduction. Mother Nature is pragmatic – she insures reproduction by making it fun so she doesn’t have to persuade us it’s valuable.

              The human brain & its capacities are the product of evolution on the planet Earth. There are no selective pressures that I can discern that would lead brain evolution to unbounded cognitive acumen.

            • Berttalk

              Again I think we pretty much agree. Although I do have to say you speak of mother nature having a purpose. Even as having a personality. However I think you are using analogy and it is not your intention to give that illusion.

              I certainly agree evolution is not about the destination of becoming the ultimate intelligent being. It is about the requirements of the environment. So even a flea in reality is just as evolved as we are. Its evolution fits its environment that results in its success as a species. That is the value and purpose of evolution.

              However while you are correct in the strictest sense of evolutionary value. As to human brain function and cognitive ability. The beauty is we do have the ability to contemplate the reason for our existence. It is also fair to say this search for understanding is the foundation on which our modern science resides. Our discoveries have allowed us to thrive. So most believe there is a reason for our success and understanding. Which most equate as god. However even if it is by accident it is a lucky accident.

              Of course you can argue that modern science and technology may well be driving us to a point of extinction along with the mass extinctions occurring on our planet currently. This may well be true. However it is our ability to understand this that also gives us some hope. That and some pure dumb luck could yet be our salvation.

              In any case you can say at the most basic level our contemplations do not serve a basic survival purpose as far as natural selection is concerned. However it does provide our species with a survival advantage and could ultimately just as likely ensure our survival even beyond this planet. As much as it may ensure our destruction. In any case it is the journey of contemplation that is as much the spice of life as any adventure is more about the path then the destination.

              Finally again I can come back to the idea of life as having a purpose. As you indicated with sex. There is a purpose for sex. It may not always be why we engage or want to engage in sex but the purpose remains whether we are aware of it or not. So life has a purpose and the question becomes how and why did life acquire the desire for survival of itself and its species.

              It seems odd that any chemical reaction would acquire a desire to exist. It may acquire many traits of life but we know from our personal feelings and what we see in nature that all animals desire survival. So what would cause chemicals to have desire. Even the most basic single cell life forms actively avoid danger and search for food. They also intentionally divide with the purpose of expansion of the species.

              So we know all life has one fundamental aspect which non life and normal chemical reactions don’t have.

              That aspect is self awareness. A desire for survival indicates an awareness of self even if it is only at the most fundamental level.

              So what is it that caused this. Is it random chance. Or is life a deeper more fundamental part of our universe that we still don’t see. Could life even if not a conscious entity like ourselves exist as an energy like the other energies of the universe.

              The top scientist now say that the laws of our universe is uniquely suited to life. If even one aspect of the laws of physics were different in even a very slight way. It is very likely life could not have existed. The opinion of scientist is its a random probability. So as we are the lottery winners in what could be an infinite number of universes that harbor no life with a very few exceptions that do.

              However this means our existence is and was extremely unlikely. We are the greatest lottery winners of all times and don’t even know it. To imagine that we are here alive is an astronomical one in a multibillion shot. On top of that we are the luckiest of all the matter in the universe for being matter that has coalesced into life. Then on top of that we are the only species we are aware of on our planet that can even contemplate the magnitude of the luck of our existence.
              So given these most unlikely of unlikely lucky events. Is it unreasonable to consider that maybe we are not so lucky after all.
              Could there be something else we don’t know that has influenced our existence in our universe.

              Could life be a fundamental force. With one aspect no other force has.

              Could an energy in the universe exist that is self aware. With a desire to expand its domain. Not all powerful, all knowledgeable and omnipotent. But an energy that is subject to the laws of physics just as we are. Yet has aspects that allow it to propagate in the material universe given the right set of circumstances. And with purpose create life out of or add itself to lifeless chemical energy and matter.

              If this could be the case. Then it is reasonable to imagine this energy like all the fundamental energies will have existed at least ever since the beginning of our universe. It may even be possible this life could have in some way interacted and even influenced the other forces in a way to affect the nature of our universe.
              It is even possible this energy could of existed before our universe existed maybe even as part of all the energies of the universe before the split occurred after the big bang.

              So if this were the case then would this not be a description of God.

            • Hominid

              You can make up anything you want and you can call it god if you want. That has nothing to do with reality. It’s delusion.

              Wishing something doesn’t make it so and imagining something doesn’t mean it’s possible.

            • Berttalk

              True,
              However it is our imagination that has allowed for our current understanding of the universe.
              It is not just mere observation. We can not observe electrons or quantum mechanics.
              We take known phenomenon and try to apply logic to why things occur. Then we use our imagination to come up with a theory. We then test our concepts by making predictions and doing experiments or observations to verify if the predictions are correct or incorrect.
              So scientific theory is about not only what is happening but why its happening. As to understand the cause or reason for why something occurs in nature. This gives us the ability to make predictions about the behavior of the universe or some phenomenon within it. Which we can then use to our benefit. Such as our understanding of electromagnetism.

              So I am not claiming that my previous description is reality. However there is still the question as to why or how life came from non-life. Until that question is solved we can not act as if we know all there is to know about life and any speculation beyond what we know is just fantasy.

              However of course if we are to be reasonable we cant say well we don’t know everything therefore its God and then throw out everything we do know so we can fit God back into the picture.

              So if you don’t like to imagine any possibilities but what you know that science knows. So be it.
              If you believe imagination is useless or only for trained scientist that is fine as well.

              However I am glad not everyone thinks imagination is a waste of time. All the most beautiful things humans have ever created come clearly from our imagination. Be it music, art, architecture and science.

              So I enjoy the thought experiments. I reserve from trusting any concepts I come up with. I instead trust scientist and their discoveries and proven theories.

              I am mature enough to know that my concepts I come up with are just my imagination. With real science needing verifiability. I however recognize the value of human imagination and I am not afraid of being way wrong by using my own. It is possible to think something without believing it. There is a difference between saying something may be possible and saying its possible therefore its real.
              Its just as easy to state. Saying something is impossible doesn’t make it impossible. Or imagining something that isn’t already known doesn’t mean its fantasy.

          • Yam Yaryan

            “…he’s willing to accept absolutely massive amounts of pain, suffering, and evil in this world”

            Nonsense…

        • Greg Johnson

          Question for you, Berttalk: If you were God, and had unlimited powers, what would you do to those evil people? Or to make it more real, as a parent, what would you do to someone who hurt your child? Wondering.

          • Berttalk

            Hello again Greg,
            I have to admit of your two questions this is the more fun one to answer.
            There are a lot of different directions I could take my response to this question.
            The most basic response is to say the question is not relevant because I am not concerned about those committing the acts my concern is not allowing the action in the first place. So as such a being I would not allow the victimization of my child to occur.
            However while this answer may be satisfactory it doesn’t directly answer the specific question you asked.
            Its clear to me as myself what I would do to someone hurting my child would be on a level of frightening far beyond what I would as such a being. However even then it would be dependent on many factors.
            As such a being I would have infinite knowledge. Therefore I would know the mind of the individual who is committing the act. I would know if once they were victims themselves, if their brain was damaged by a biological disease or other factors. I would know the very thoughts that drove them to their actions from the very beginning. I would know if they were driven by a desire they could not control, or if they were remorseful. I would also know if truly their soul had become a fully evil entity or if there were other causes of their actions. By this knowledge I would have the ability to determine my actions toward them.
            So however I still think I can answer this question on another level.
            If I was such a being of perfect omnipotent power and love. Who wished to create a being truly in my image. I would have created beings with such empathy and compassion the lowest of them would make Gandhi look the sadist. They would not be subject to the frailties of the mind to which would lend itself to the deceptions of hatred and selfish perverted desires.
            I had actually answered this question yesterday and it seems for what ever reason the post was lost so I had to retype my response. The above is a portion as close to the original. I however did also discuss more possibilities and this is such a fun exercise I will come back later to try to share those concepts. thanks again.

      • Hominid

        God IS philosophy!

    • Matt Salas

      I couldn’t agree more with this article. However, as a philosopher, I have found that physicist tend to be more open to interdisciplinary dialogue than others, especially the social sciences like psychology, biology, zoology, etc. My experience might be unique, but my closest friends are physicists or mathematicians of some variety.

      • Hominid

        Social science is an oxymoron. Did you mean social STUDIES?

        BTW, moron, biology is NOT a social science.

        • Matt Salas

          I can see from your the history on your profile that you have a history of trolling. So I have no interest in digressing into petty insults. Nonetheless, your first comment highlights a point I should have made clearer.

          My personal experience has been that those who engage in in theory seem more apt to acknowledge and accept the need for interdisciplinary dialogue. Even within the field of physics itself, theoretical physicists have seemed more open to interdisciplinary work than experimental physicists.

          • Hominid

            They deleted my comment! Why? Why the censorship?

            I don’t remember what I wrote, but I think it was something like ‘social science is an oxymoron.’

            Why was that deleted? Is it intellectual cowardice?

        • Mark Byron

          The term “Social science” is a product of the Cold War push to fund the sciences in the US. The folks in social studies wanted a piece of the money pool, tacked on some statistics to their research and rebranded themselves as “social sciences.”

          This comes from a guy who got a BS in Political Science, one of those “oxymoronic” titles.

          • Hominid

            That’s right – and, it has had a pernicious effect on society. People’s view of rigorous science has become grossly distorted (e.g., see Salas’ absurd assertion that biology is a “social science”) and their misconceptions have been exploited in the pursuit of political agendas.

      • Roger

        I agree with Hominid: biology, zoology and the field I’m in, biochemistry, are not social sciences. And, I’m guessing biochemists do more interdisciplinary work than physicists. There are whole fields of study called biophysics, bioengineering, bioinformatics, and papers in these fields often involve authors from many different areas. Another thing about biochemistry and many other sciences is that they try to find the mechanisms of how processes work. It seems less clear that physicists do as long as they have math to describe the process. For instance, what is the physical/mechanical mechanism that causes two negative charges to repel and two oppositely charged things to attract. Do physicists even care? I like physics a lot, but I do think there could be a bigger emphasis on mechanism as opposed to math.

        • Mike

          Physicist very much care about the mechanisms that cause the forces around us. Theories present mechanisms and mathematics hand and hand. The math is just a useful tool for expressing and expanding upon logical thought.

          Please look up The Standard Model.
          Wikipedia has a “decent” enough article on it. The Standard Model is the current leading theory that describes the mechanisms that you seem to be interested in. Pay special attention to “Force Carriers”.

          Hopefully this will push you in a direction that can shed light on the subject matter.

          Tl;DR Physics uses math to describe mechanisms.

          • Roger

            Mike,

            I’m not sure that exchanging force particles really counts as a mechanism to explain how forces work. What I’m getting at is how, mechanically, does an exchange of photons between oppositely charged particles cause them to move closer to one another? How does this exchange cause them to move farther apart if they’re the same charge?

            Roger

          • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7BO_hqe_q0 Alone: bad. Friend: good!
        • hackenslash

          For instance, what is the physical/mechanical mechanism that causes two negative charges to repel and two oppositely charged things to attract.

          Errr, exchange of photons.

          Next!

          The reason for the emphasis on mathematics is pretty simple, namely that the entities that physicists are looking at manifest as quantities. Hardly surprising, then, that what comes out of their investigations into what they observe is numerical in nature.

          I sometimes despair at the level of thought that goes into not thinking.

      • Hominid

        How are YOU a philosopher? Who isn’t? Every street psycho is a ‘philosopher.’ What are your credentials? You sound like a self-congratulating fool – especially when you lump rigorous science with pseudoscience. Who cares who your “closest friends” are? Did you stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night?

    • fergus macerc

      the answer to ‘what is the MEANING of life’ is quite different to the answer of ‘what is the PURPOSE of life’. philosophy requires as much, if not more, ‘intellectual engineering’ as physics.

      • ThomasKirk

        Fergus, Both questions you pose assume that there is a meaning or purpose. These are indefensible assumptions and poor “intellectual engineering.”

      • Turing_Test

        “Meaning” and “purpose” are conceptual. It doesn’t make much sense to speak of life having concepts.

        • Greg Johnson

          If you’ll look back, conceptual questions were the whole point of this article. Duh.

          • Turing_Test

            You clearly didn’t understand my comment. Concepts are mental events. They’re instances of thinking. Life doesn’t think. A person can infuse something with meaning in the sense that something means something to that person. A person can decide to have a purpose in doing something meaning they have a goal in mind. It doesn’t make sense to say that something means something to life or that life has decided to have a goal. Saying, “life has meaning” or “life has purpose” is at best metaphorical and at worst sloppy, nonsensical language.

            • Hominid

              Meaning and purpose are stupid within the scientific framework, but, they are important social concepts. The folks you are arguing with are not making that distinction. You and they are arguing at cross purposes – you’re talking past one another.

            • Turing_Test

              Not exactly. The distinction isn’t in terms of science but in terms of clarity. They are using vague, colloquial language that makes it difficult to distinguish between the literal and the metaphorical. They end up using metaphorical language as if it’s literal and come to silly conclusions because of it.

            • Hominid

              That’s what I said, Turing – they are thinking and speaking as ‘folks’, not scientists. You and they are not on the same page – you’re not even in the same reality.

    • mike

      Can philosophy help clarify physics in its various disciplines. In a sense of clarification of terms and assessment of mathematical reasoning perhaps. However, philosophy also is self determinate. Define a problem and a solution, in purely logical terms, and you have a perimeters conclusions based on personally derived assumptions. So, do we base those assumptions on determining neat solutions, or do we rely on observations. Did the Apollo 11 astronauts land on a neat celestial sphere? Why do some philosophers flee reality to take comfort in abstraction? Does the natural world fail to live up to their standards? Is it just egotism, or do they want to relegate us to the cave to make their determinations simpler and reduce the human experience to a set of ethics they can control through rhetoric? Do they wish to reel in the enormity of the real world we observe to the comfort of their offices? Does the building of knowledge through observation confound the neat definition and practices of their profession? Look at the result historically. We put the sun at the center of the universe and persecute those who refute the assumptions upon which the philosophy is based. We reject the circulation of the blood because it doesn’t conform to a set of determined principles. Philosophy can be a wonderful thing, if it admits a natural order that demands that it gives way to new demands. Otherwise, it’s just to much diddling.

      • Turing_Test

        All based on an assumption of physicalism which is nothing more than a cognitive schema we use to organize and make sense of the empirical. The blind faith in such a schema as the only sensible view is very indicative of the “self determinate” “personally derived assumptions” with which you seem to take issue.

      • Hominid

        Gibberish!

    • ThomasKirk

      “The reigning attitude in physics has been “shut up and calculate”: solve the equations, and do not ask questions about what they mean.”

      So how does one answer questions about what the equations mean?

      Does one use one’s “common sense” which has been misleading people throughout history?

      Does one define terms with precision to make subtle distinctions using linguistics? But how can mere words describe the equations better than the mathematically precise, “free of ambiguity and vagueness” equations themselves?

      Or does one try to create a mental analogy to make the equation ‘make sense’? Isn’t this just appealing to our unreliable common sense again?

      Tim Maudlin claims that philosophers can provide “conceptual clarity” but he doesn’t offer a single example of them having done so. Instead he refers to vague terms like “new theoretical approaches” and “foundational concepts” which allegedly can clarify what equations, with all their mathematical precision, cannot.

      Maudin gives Einstein the last word, but even Einstein (NOT a philosopher), who was able to create a new conceptual understanding of the nature of space, time and relativity, was never able to wrap his mind around quantum mechanics (QM). He and Niels Bohr had an ongoing friendly debate about QM, and Bohr continued to be vindicated at every turn.

      The current understanding of quantum mechanics, which has made the most precise predictions in all of science, is that it doesn’t make sense. Period. But the Schrodinger equation nevertheless “works.” The world is still waiting for the philosophers’ insight on this matter.

      • Yossell

        I disagree:

        “So how does one answer questions about what the equations mean?”

        You’re sceptical that such questions can be answered? But physicists do (at least sometimes) provide answers to such questions — and they must: if physics is to be more than just pure mathematics, if physics is to tell us something about the world rather than mere formalism, then something has to be said about which parts of the mathematical framework are merely mathematical — devices for calculation or formalising — and which parts have physical significance, and what that physical significance is. Even the operationalist must, at some point, physically interpret parts of his theory..

        Born titled his Nobel lecture `The statistical *Interpretation* of quantum mechanics’, and, as he wrote, the award was not for a discovery of a new phenomenon or a new equation, but for his probabilistic interpretation of QM. Have a look at it: he’s quite upfront about the fact that he’s dealing with philosophical and conceptual issues.

        You endorse Bohr — have you read much of his writings on QM? I would have thought his work would be an anathema to you. His arguments with Einstein and his writing on the meaning of QM are very “philosophical” — with ambiguous and unclear notions (Complementarity anyone) and obscure and hard to follow..I’m sympathetic to interpretational discussions, but I find Bohr very hard going. Although `Copenhagen Interpretation’ has come to be associated with the `shut up and calculate’ philosophy, it’s very questionable whether this view was Bohr’s.

        “The current understanding of quantum mechanics, which has made the most precise predictions in all of science, is that it doesn’t make sense.” Uhh — no, not really. There’s a wide spectrum of views about whether or not it makes sense and how best to interpret it, although — agreed — interpretational issues are not relevant to the majority of most working physicists’ business.

      • Omega Centauri

        I’m in a mixed state of agreement/disagreement with you. Truly the math is a precise statement, and for the most part we have large collection of derived precise mechanisms of dealing with such entities. But, insight and intuition are often essential to suggest ways to overcome difficulties. People that are good a dealing with equations, don’t just randomly try methods until they hit on one that works, they’ve developed significant intuition about what is likely to work in such and such a situation. The guidance of the intuition oftentimes makes the difference between getting stuck and finding a way through the difficulties. This is not to say that sometimes a strongly held intuition cannot become a major roadblock.

      • Hominid

        Better still, why ask unanswerable questions to begin with?

    • Constantine

      To believe without question is to belittle one’s own existence.

      • mantelar

        what of axioms then? i know of no knowledge system without a series of beliefs at its foundation.

        • SRR126

          You probably need to read some Goedel then.

          • cmbennett01

            You mean the guy who proved time does not exist, and was pretty sure all the other mathematicians were trying to kill him because he had an incontrovertible proof for the existence of God?

            • SRR126

              No – the guy who is arguably one of the greatest mathematicians in the past 100 years – second only to Aristotle in logic – you know that dude – the one who had earth-shattering break-throughs at 25 – what were you doing when you were 25?.

            • cmbennett01

              Yeah, that’s the same one I was talking about. You see I can acknowledge his genius in the field of mathematics and at the same time argue that on the topic of the nature of reality, he was really quite unhinged. Aristotle is generally not regarded as the authority on that these days either. Just sayin.

            • Nedward Marbletoe

              how about Godel’s theorems? do they apply to physics’ quest for a Theory of Everything?

        • Constantine

          Of course, but at some point, sooner or later in the process, those beliefs are questioned, i.e., “put to the test.” Those beliefs are merely a perception of reality. And to quote A. Einstein: “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”

    • Steff

      The illustration is a hoot to begin with, the look of what could be dubbed, “the eternal puzzlement of the collective HUH?

      • Hominid

        That’s what experiments are for – to test predictive value. Scientists ‘take themselves out’ of the experiments through independent experiments by others. Prediction (cause and effect) and consensus (reproducibility) are the foundations of science that make it the most powerful epistemology we have. You’re another example of the many folks who are scientifically illiterate.

        • Steff

          A tad defensive are we? What you think I said was not what I wrote. Please note the phrase “are wrong if?” By your own definition, a scientist should only question, not endorse, his/her own theory. Since you very humanly felt the need to end your reply with an assumption, one which you could not possibly know about me, I think you just proved my point.

          • Hominid

            You’re full of baloney and, now, called out, you’re just weaseling.

            • Steff

              If you’ve enjoyed our difference, I am glad. If not, I am sorry.

    • BillMFl

      Before there was science, there was philosophy. With a minor in philosophy, I see its relevance in ethics and all things metaphysical such as religion. But modern science gets things done. Philosophy is left to ponder the unknowns which anyone can participate in.

      • Hominid

        Exactly – philosophy is a pedestrian waste of time that frequently leads to enormity.

        • Yam Yaryan

          The number is conceptual, metaphysical, and the key to science. It doesn’t exist except in a metaphysical plane, and metaphysics is the highest form of philosophy….please explain this annoying fact.

          • Hominid

            I don’t totally disagree that math is the ultimate delusion. But, I don’t see how delusion justifies mysticism.

            • Yam Yaryan

              Socrates and Plato were delusional? You really believe this?

            • Hominid

              Yes, of course. That’s why science requires independent verification AND predictability.

            • Yam Yaryan

              Socrates would eat you for breakfast.

            • Hominid

              I AM Socrates, fool.

            • Yam Yaryan

              Ha!

            • Lewis Chamness

              Following this thread is frustrating. I’m just gonna hold my breath until I die….unless all of you agree that I am the one who has it right!

            • Yam Yaryan

              Using a metaphysical entity known as a number. Philosophy owns you guys, and I find this quite amusing.

      • couchloc

        You say philosophy never gets things done. But the historical record suggests it has had huge impact on the world.
        -Marx’s communism: billions throughout world affected.
        -Adam Smith’s capitalism: was this not influential?
        -Montesquieu: separation of powers idea
        -Locke: liberal theory behind Declaration of Independence
        -Rawls: modern principles of justice, equality
        -Singer: started animal rights movement 1970’s
        -Russell: foundations modern logic
        -Martin Luther King: civil rights movement
        -Ghandi: nonviolent emancipation of India
        -Dewey: co-founder of ACLU
        -These don’t seem like concrete results?

        • BillMFl

          Well first of all, I didn’t say philosophy never gets things done. You may have missed the point of the original article. In saying before science there was philosophy, the point I was making is that going way back in history, what we call science today, was conducted mostly by people who history labels as philosophers. The early Greeks are a good example. It could be said that much of human behavior is based on philosophical beliefs both good and bad. For example, Marx’s political philosophy obvious had a huge impact but ultimately failed. Empiricists like Locke were in the forefront of modern science many of whom also embraced traditional religious beliefs that might seem quaint today. Darwin was educated in religion and philosophy in preparation for the clergy and was reluctant to publish what he learned on his voyage on the Beagle. Thankfully, modern day scientists only have to fear scorn from their peers and rarely are jailed like Galileo. But feel free to make more lists if that pleases you. To the extent that it can, science benefits from the freedom from the biases so many philosophies contain. Having said that, I would add that the field of ethics, long the realm of philosophical enquire, remains relevant in science and all human behaviors.

        • Hominid

          No one said it doesn’t have an influence on human behavior & society. I said above ideology often has a pernicious effect. However, I don’t see what you mean by “gets things done.” And, what does that have to do with any suggested value of philosophy for SCIENCE, not society?

    • Mark McIntire

      Thoughts:

      1. What we call the ‘universe’ of contingent beings will always be limited to what we can measure cosmologically

      2. What we can measure cosmologically will, by definition, always be to less than everything that is ontologically contingent

      3. Neither cosmology, nor ontology, offers a coherent and comprehensive model of the non-contingent source of contingency

      4. Pantheism uses the word ‘God’ for everything that is both cosmologically and ontologically the non-contingent source of contingency

      5. Pantheism is consistent with both current cosmology and ontology as this article suggests but does not infer

      Your thoughts, Professor?

      • Veritas

        these are questions which get so little attention in science, that most people don’t even realize the limitations of science.

        • Hominid

          Why would they “get attention” in science – they’re stupid, unanswerable (nonscientific) questions?

          What are the limitations of science vis-a-vis philosophy, religion, literature, art, politics, etc? Which has produced the most useful epistemology? It’s no contest, bro!

          • Veritas

            Science is extremely useful. Huge advances are obvious to all, but science is itself philosophy. That said, humans are more than testing things and in a utilitarian existence without considering these other questions, we become Mr Spock.
            If you don’t address these questions, how do we decide what is ethical for the use of science? Nuclear power vs nuclear holocaust….science has also given us more efficient ways of Destroying, killing, exploiting. How do we set limits? What do we decide to study in the first place? Why study astronomy at all if not because someone wondered what all this was about?

            Humans have always wondered about these questions of existence. They are answerable, to a point. Science does not address these, but is a part.

            (Coming up with a hypothesis to address scientifically requires these parts of philosophy…it requires imagination and an understanding of what philosophically undergirds the current theories)

            • Hominid

              You simply declare everything “philosophy” – that’s drivel.

            • Veritas

              And you call nothing philosophy. Except your philosophy, which is science.
              You must live by some philosophical view of life…even if it is a philosophy that calls everything but science drivel.

            • Hominid

              Of course I have a social philosophy – but, that’s not the issue at hand. We’re debating the utility of philosophy for science – did you miss that? – it has none.

      • Hominid

        Gibberish!

    • tjcole

      As a Philosophy Major many years ago I said the Science, Physics, and Astrophysics would replace Metaphysics and caught hell for it. Of course in many ways I was correct.. When it comes to the Nature of the Universe much of Metaphysics was speculation supposition and we can now see test experiment discover the Universes true nature, but what led us to these discoveries.? Curiosity, a curiosity driven by the Philosophers and Metaphysicians often while in college I loved the way different disciplines would dovetail one into another.. Philosophy Professors are all too often forced to defend their discipline even the very existence and need for it, in this ever more myopic material greed driven society we’ve created, this appears to be to some degree another example of that.. Be it Ethics or Metaphysics it’s difficult to prove the need for these studies to the hordes of shallow barbarians so many Americans have become. Our downward spiral is directly connected to the abandonment of these important fields of study we see it every day in the callous prideful ignorance of the elected officials who wallow in ignorance and wear it as a badge of honor.!

    • Amit

      I am a physics major. I took philosophy for a semester but I like to read philosophical insights once in a while. I disagree that that physics discourages asking the question related to reality. In fact, the whole purpose of physics in its fundamental level is to find out the real nature of universe, space and time (which are the fundamental domain of reality). However, the clear point of departure of physics from philosophy is the way we seek the answer and then the way it is done in philosophical schools. In physics, the reality is searched in quantitative way. A physics theory can be initiated by a pure thought process (Einstein’s famous though experiments in Special Relativity) but ultimately they need to be verified by experiments independently. Ideas should give outlet which allows others to verify if the idea is true or not. I saw the author mentioned about precision also. In physics, since ideas are tested by quantitative means there is no alternative to precision. The more precise an experiment is, the more strong test an idea/ theory goes through. Physics, by no means, encourages shut up and calculate. At every point, we are encourage to doubt, question and test ideas. Philosophical school of thoughts at various levels dwell in logical cross-roads intertwined with subjective argument. While physical theories are backed up my mathematics, the language of nature, the philosophical theories cannot be verified by means of numbers only (at least not that I am known of). A lot of times, philosophy mixed with physics turns into metaphysics and ultimately some sort of sorcery (spiritual science or something).
      Regarding the mathematical problems in quantum mechanics, instead of deciding that the problems are not mathematical, it would be wise to say that the quantum mechanics is telling us that our everyday understanding of reality is not correct. Perhaps we are missing an important link in the picture of reality we have drawn so far and it is being reflected in quantum mechanics. Other problems like our inability to integrate quantum mechanics with GR might be hinting towards some loop hole in our story of reality.
      Similarly, CP violation in lepton sector, the requirement of dark matter or dark energy to make our current cosmological theory workable are hinting towards the new picture of reality. I am just saying that just like philosophy, physics is also about the search of reality. All these questions and the answers we have got so far are discovered by continuous asking and doubting the existing picture of reality.

      • http://ian-wardell.blogspot.co.uk/ Ian Wardell

        “In fact, the whole purpose of physics in its fundamental level is to find out the real nature of universe, space and time”.

        What total nonsense. For one thing how do we know that our hypotheses and theories depict literal states of affairs? Nor does physics provide explanations. All explanations presuppose laws which themselves are inexplicable. Physics ultimately is in the business of predicting the course of our sensory qualia.

        • mantelar

          its easy to say that we’ve just created physics to describe the world as we sense it and therefore are missing the mark. but i don’t need any philosophical rigor to know that the proof is very much in the putting. EVERYTHING we’ve built, the entirety of our civilization, was made possible by the application of discoveries in physics. it works. and that, in my layman’s opinion, is the very best form of proof – divorced from human ego. and the need to answer the very questions this young student brings up have always driven the best of the profession. no, no theory is every going to depict the literal state of anything – language has its limits. arguably, as soon as you put an idea to words, you instantly water it down – there is no way any word or collection of words can do justice to describing any concept in your mind. much the same as a painting – no matter how good the painting, it will never BE what it depicts. but if its good enough, everyone who looks at it will know what it is. so it goes with mathematics and physics. in the end, i think we agree – physics doesn’t preport to tell us the why of anything, just the what, when, where, and how. i personally think there’s beauty in that…but form and function are very much informed by purpose. so these questions have utility in physics, if for no other reason than to frame the thinking of those doing the work. i know all of that is shotgun. rant over.

        • Amit

          If we are looking for an absolute answer to reality, then there is never going to be that answer…all we can do is fine tune our knowledge and try getting nearer and nearer to the reality and it is what physics does. Cheers to science.

        • Hominid

          Predictability, dummy.

          • http://ian-wardell.blogspot.co.uk/ Ian Wardell

            What??

            • Hominid

              Physics enables us to land a rocket ship on the moon. We can predict outcomes of our actions with a high level (not absolute) of certainty and independently of anyone’s “sensory qualia.” Your language is so loose, it amounts to gibberish.

            • http://ian-wardell.blogspot.co.uk/ Ian Wardell

              My language is precise and unambiguous. If you don’t understand it then bloody take up a philosophy of science course.

            • Hominid

              You’re a clown.

      • Yam Yaryan

        The fundamental domain of reality is perception and self-awareness….

        • Hominid

          Nonsense. The fundamental domain of reality is engineering!

          • Nedward Marbletoe

            the fundamental domain of engineering is reality.

            • Hominid

              Yes – same thing said the other way around. If one can successfully engineer, he must have a good grasp of reality and if one has a good grasp of reality, he can successfully engineer.

            • Yam Yaryan

              What a crock of horse manure.

    • Bruce Hunt

      Great read, and awesome Einstein quote! We have a similar divide between political scientists and political theorists. I wrote a little bit about it here: Bruce Hunt’s Blog

      • Hominid

        Political science is an oxymoron.

    • Harry

      Unfortunately, the majority of these responses entirely miss the point. Maudlin is saying that any empirical observation or hypothesis a physicist makes needs to be fit into a conceptual framework. It’s only with a rigid conceptual framework that inference can be valid, talk can be efficacious, and statements can be true.

      But physicists are not trained to approach concepts as rigorously as they are trained to approach measurements. Maudlin claims that any review of physical literature makes it clear that the standard physicist’s grasp of the concepts he routinely uses is shaky at best.

      But who is trained to deal with concepts

      • Harry

        Post got cut off. Should read “But who is trained to deal with concepts? Philosophers.”

    • Hominid

      Reality is terrifying!! Better to seek comfort in philosophy, ideology, religion.

      • janvones

        Says the ape, making a philosophical point, and contradicting himself before leaving the trees.

        • Hominid

          You’re unencumbered by substance.

    • Julie Chovanes

      I think physics and science more generally have issues in describing the world. Newton and Leibniz realized calculus was necessary, which is a tool for approximation. More recently when Godel pointed out that 1+1=2 must be taken on intuition — it can’t be proven. When the queen of the sciences — math — shows that we can’t mirror the world precisely through math, but only can approximate the world, and when, on top of that, we can’t even prove the basics of math, how could science really be the describer of reality?

      • hackenslash

        More recently when Godel pointed out that 1+1=2 must be taken on intuition — it can’t be proven.

        No, he really didn’t. It would be an interesting study to work out just what percentage of invocations of Gödel on the internet are catastrophically wrong.

        If you’re actually interested in Gödel, I recommend Gödel’s Theorem: An Incomplete Guide to Its Use and Abuse by Torkel Franzén.

        • Julie Chovanes

          Thank you but that is actually a quote from Godel in a book about him and Einstein…he knows about his work right :)?

          A World Without Time: The Forgotten Legacy of Godel and Einstein

      • NicolasBourbaki

        “More recently when Godel pointed out that 1+1=2 must be taken on intuition — it can’t be proven.”

        1=1=2 can be proven. Godel would say it is and has been provable. He would say that *some* arithmetical truths are unprovable (certainly not 1+1=2).

      • Hominid

        You’re scientifically illiterate.

    • janvones

      Thanks for a refreshing and all to short essay on the necessity of philosophy. (I double majored in philosophy and biology as an undergrad, and see all sorts of category mistakes, like reductive materialism, which ignores emergence and supervenience in the biological world.

      Ernst Mayr gave lists of valid, mathematically describable biological concepts like sexual selection which simply could not be reduced to masses, charges, and velocity.

      Hawkins does himself in by simply equating cosmology and philosophy, while most philosophers are happy to leave cosmology as an empirical science at this point, forgetting that logic, aesthetics, ethics and so forth can’t be reduced to cosmology.

      As Einstein warns, he forgets that these concepts were both discovered historically and that each individual has to learn them on his own.

      Bell’s Skepticism because he can’t define a microscope in terms of fields or atomic weights speaks for itself. He uses the tools he can’t describe to discover principles he then claims invalidate the tools he used in the first place.

      Back to Einstein, this notion that once we’ve got an idea it’s somehow something we must have known a priori is a huge stumbling block. Even the greeks guessed at evolution, with Empedocles claiming that animals arose by chance combination, but those that were unfit to live died out.

      Unfortunately Platonic Essentialism won the day, and the notion of unchanging types (What Ernst calls Essentialism) prevented any further though for on these lines for millennia.

      Non-contradiction, empiricism, the scientific method; all these things are epistemologically primary and historically primary to modern science. An inability to address the root philosophical mistakes of creationists and luddites only gives the forces of unreason the upper hand.

      • Hominid

        You’re full of baloney.

        • janvones

          What, after 20 days? Even if I ate baloney (I hate it) I would have shat it out 20 days ago. Yet even more biology you don’t understand.

    • Strac5
    • Roger

      I think that metaphysics and physics can be partners as follows. If metaphysics is the study of being and existence, the universe “be”s and exists, and physics is the study of the universe, then logically it seems like the laws of physics should be derivable from the laws of metaphysics. What I think should happen is that metaphysicians should try to study why things exist and the properties of existent entities and then use these things to make models of the universe and eventually make testable predictions. I think this metaphysics to physics approach would lead to faster progress towards a deeper understanding of reality than either metaphysics or physics alone. Unfortunately, most philosophers don’t share this view, as other commenters have said, and I think this is part of the reason for what many people see as the lack of relevance of philosophy to science.

      • Horacio

        Roger, as long as I understand Physics and science in general has to admite the contradictory, the possibility to be disproved. For that reason you can know how charges of differwnt sign attrackt each other, a limitation rised in that series of mails, but physics can not answer why. This apparently weakness of the method seems to be the turn-off-point that separated the Phylosophy of Nature from Methaphysics (the things behind the natural world, the final and definitive answer). To restrict ourselves in our aspirations lead to the advance of knowledge, as we can prove 400 years after Galilei. Horacio

    • http://about.me/PhilipThrift Philip Thrift

      Sounds like philosophers are like programming language theorists. :)

    • randy

      Your argument about the theory being right and the argument wrong does not help your case. Feynman knew the theory, and his explanation that acceleration is necessary to break the symmetry between frames is arguably true with sufficient generalization that differential action of forces is implied by different paths in curved space-time, and that any physically realizable trajectory of any clock must have finite curvature. You can say that questions about the consequences of experiments, either in concept or in execution, are necessary for the exploration and validation of the theory. But this argument is really that philosophy is inherent in science, or that science is philosophy, as recognized by the adherents of physics in Newton’s time who thought of themselves as “natural philosophers”.

      • Yossell

        Different paths in curved space-time do not imply a differential action of forces. By travelling a `slingshot’ around a very heavy body, the travelling twin can be turn around while being in free fall the whole time. Yet the proper time along his path is different from the proper time of the stay-at-home twin’s time.

        What I would say is that Feynman is focussing on SR whereas the no-acceleration versions of the twin-paradox (that I’m aware of) take place in GR. We expect different theories to give different explanations of what we observe, and Feynman might have only been giving the SR explanation.

    • Mongo

      Philosophy devoid of Theological underpinnings is just more or less mechanical (usually less) wheelspinning, utterly devoid of substantitive meaning.

    • mantelar

      i ranted about this a little below. i find it interesting that discussions like this can be emotionally charged, and i think i understand the basic reason why. physics offers answers to the what, when, where, and how of things. philosophy is very much in the business of the why. but the question why is essentially a request to understand the purpose behind a happening or thing. trouble is, we know for certain of no event or phenomena in all the universe with a purpose that was assigned by anything other than a human being. anything beyond our thoughts, relationships, and tools, anything and everything not specifically created by us, can have no verifiable purpose…unless of course you believe this universe to be something that was created. purpose is an inherent property of all created things. you can see where i’m going with this – a place that given the current schism between religion and science, very few people can go without getting, well…political. but it nonetheless is very important discussion to have. all knowledge systems are based on assumptions. and assumptions are, in the end, BELIEVED to be true. we take them on faith. i personally feel that assuming the universe was created is not a bad axiom…its so wildly mathematical, well balanced, and beautiful…to me it seems obvious that its the product of a mind – as self evident as numbers. in assuming the universe was created, i know that it necessarily has a purpose…and if i can infer that purpose then it will tell me volumes about the universe itself. think about how the construct, form, and function of so many of our inventions would be completely incomprehensible to an alien observer unless they were first informed of their function. an alien might be able to research something as simple as a toilet for decades and still not know anything useful about it – a problem neatly and quickly solved by a single brief conversation with any of us. same same goes with physics if my assumption is correct. and walking this tightrope of belief is something physicists cannot avoid – because regardless of their religious beliefs, all physicists assume that the universe is at some level comprehensible by the human mind…and comprehension requires syntax, requiring the universe have a language of its own, etc. it all makes for lively debate. in the end, regardless of what you believe, i think its important to note that for better or worse, physicists have always been driven to work by the “big” questions. regardless of the guts of the relationship between physics and philosophy, i think the relationship between physicists and philosophy is actually what’s more important.

    • Thomas Palmieri

      The 18th century scientist and mystical theologian Emmanuel Swedenborg, one of history’s great genius’s, explained that in the interrogation of a phenomenon, there are three levels of apprehension, viz. those relating to purposes, means and ends. Science is the discipline which works in the realm of operations, that is, means, HOW a thing functions. Philosophy, theology, and art to an extent, are concerned with the why of things. Why does something exist, what is its purpose? Science can never explain beyond the level of the operational: it can describe how the universe operates, but not the purpose of creation. This is because science is limited to the ontologically concrete and delimited. What lies above creation is the Infinite, which being infinite, can never be circumscribed by our finite powers of perception and analysis. Philosophy, art and theology represent strivings of the human mind and spirit to make sense of or contact with the divine’s purposes in creation, which involve such non quantifiable properties as wisdom and love. He who advances in love, advances in wisdom and knowledge with regard to the Infinite’s purposings in creation. Christ said “I am the way, the truth and the life…no one comes to the Father (the ontological Absolute), but by me (by conforming himself to the image of Christ, viz. complete love, goodness and holiness). Knowledge of the Infinite ultimately comes by way of love, wisdom, goodness and holiness, the higher aspects of our nature. He who makes a god out of science as though it were the summum bonum of human realization has delimited his life and outlook to the passing material creation alone, and remains enmeshed in nescience–lack of knowledge of the higher realities. The Hindu sages, who made a scientific study of the human spiritual anatomy, said of such people that their consciousness is largely identified with the lower chakras (spiritual centers), located in the anus, sex organs and stomach regions. Until consciousness has been raised to the heart chakra and the chakras above, any talk of spiritual realities remains beyond their comprehension. Yes, science has much to offer in the way of understanding our world, but to those who adopt the philosophical attitude (a true scientific outlook is open to all modalities of knowing, see William James) that science alone discloses the truth of things, we have the retort of the poet William Shakespeare, who once observed: “there is more in heaven and earth, Horatio, than is dreamt of in your philosophy.”

    • asdfasdf

      Your claim Feynman’s explanation of the twin paradox was wrong, is itself incorrect. You should provide a link or citation for your claim. Then it should be straightforward to show why you are mistaken.

    • Larry Kueneman

      I’d like to throw in a different understanding. I feel the task of philosophy is to convert concepts (the effort of physics) into wisdom. Sorry, but if I am correct in this, philosophy will never be dead.

    • Henry Harris

      A well written article with a thought provoking argument.

    • BillMFl

      Philosophy dreams and imagines, a game of words without real proof. Science dreams and imagines and then tests and measures and builds knowledge based on verifiable data. Science fiction, similar to philosophy speculates without expectations of proof. As for religion, all religions require the suspension of rational belief and the blind acceptance of mystical metaphysical beliefs based on “faith”. No proof required.

      • Turing_Test

        Actually there is no proof in science, only evidence. Empirical proof is a misnomer. Proof is absolute and only exists in formal systems like logic and mathematics. Science proceeds through observation and experimentation, invariably fallible pursuits (this is why theories are constantly revised, corrected or thrown out entirely). Philosophy proceeds through argumentation, which does lend itself to proofs. A sound argument in philosophy cannot be false.

        • BillMFl

          Proof is in the pudding. Science put man on the moon. Science and its applications in engineering and medicine are real concrete proof based on reality. Math is tool of science, not an end in itself. The history of both math and philosophy have been full of false assumptions and unsound applications. Science lifted mankind out of a humble primitive existence and more than doubled average life span. Philosophy can only parse words and speculate on the “meaning” of it all. Science is a process with concrete results. I’ll take the pudding. You can have the bs. Scientists and engineers get things done and math is one of their important tools, Before becoming an engineer, as an undergrad, I had a major in psychology and a minor in philosophy. I enjoyed them both and could bullshit with the best of them. But the highest and best achievements of mankind are due to science and engineering. A philosopher did not build the computers or internet that we are communicating with today. Math participated as a tool. Math helps measure reality, but by itself creates nothing.

          • Turing_Test

            There is so much wrong with this that I don’t even know where to begin; and I don’t really have any desire to start this discussion with someone who clearly doesn’t care enough about the realities of science and philosophy to contribute anything relevant. If you really take issue with philosophy’s place in science and aren’t just trolling, I’d suggest reading the interview between 3:AM and the author posted by the editor under Further Reading for a start.

            • BillMFl

              I suggest you lose the attitude and respect that people of good intention can hold widely divergent opinions. I simply stated my personal opinions and never belittled yours. If you are inclined to be immature then we have nothing further to discuss. Thank you.

            • Turing_Test

              People of good intention do not verbally bash entire professional fields. Calling philosophy “bullshit” multiple times in one post and then pretending to put forward an argument for the entire field being bullshit is disingenuous and rude and contributes nothing relevant to the conversation. Considering your “view”, I’d say I responded quite cordially.

        • hackenslash

          Actually, there is proof in science, in the form of falsification, which employs a well-established logical principle in one of two forms, namely the straightforward modus tollens:

          P => Q, ¬Q
          ∴¬P

          And the null hypothesis:

          P=>¬Q, Q
          ∴¬P

          This trope that science doesn’t do proof is among my pet peeves, and one of the most common errors committed by people with a clue.

          • Turing_Test

            This seems like a false equivocation to me (or, at least, horribly uncharitable). The point isn’t that examples of logical proofs cannot be found in usage in science (physics is mostly math, after all) but that the positive empirical claims of science are not subject to proofs, only justification.

    • Scott

      Physics has difficulties explaining X or understanding the reality behind X, therefore physics needs something. History tells us that novel speculations, observations, technologies and mathematics can provide or stimulate the development of the something. I’m struggling to think of any examples where philosophy played that role.

      Further, if Hawking and Mlodinow make an error, it is the statement that questions about reality are traditionally questions for philosophers. Everyone grapples with them at some level for practical reasons. Religions and mysticism also ask the questions at a deeper level. Animistic beliefs (the universe is full of agents invisible to the naked eye) are far closer to science than anything Western philosophy has come up with.

    • Lemoncookies

      I take the author of this piece to really be talking about philosophers of science, not simply “philosophers.” The latter include people doing metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, aesthetics, political philosophy, philosophy of religion, philosophy of language, philosophy of history, philosophy of law, and formal logic, not to mention of course, philosophy of science. There’s even a philosophy of philosophy, usually called metaphilosophy.

      Hence, it’s not a good idea to generalize, since not all philosophers care about or need care about physics. The only ones who do are philosophers of science. The absurd recent “philosophy vs science” debates, of which this blog post is in part a reaction to, are usually started by certain blowhard physicists like Hawking who are ignorant of what philosophy is and from said ignorance demand that philosophers care about physics and contribute to its problems. When these things don’t happen, they indignantly proclaim with smug self assurance while waving their magic wands that philosophy is “dead.” These people have no need of a refutation, since they quite easily refute themselves by proving to be both ignorant of what they pontificate on and fallacious in their reasoning. The quote from Hawking at the beginning is good only for a laugh at how ridiculously self-masturbatory and ironic it is.

      • Anonymous101

        Thank you. Very well said. My college studies centered around both philosophy and science and I believe that any scientist or philosopher worth their muster is humble enough to recognize the contributions of each discipline to the other. Hawking’s comments should be taken with no more seriousness than a toddler’s tantrum.

      • NicolasBourbaki

        “The only ones who do are philosophers of science. ”

        This is also a blanket generalization that is, in my experience, completely false. Almost all professional philosophers I have read and met would say that any theory of reality must seriously take into account science.

        • Lemoncookies

          Sure, they must “seriously take into account” the findings of science, but so should any person who purports to be educated. I’m talking about the absurd demand that philosophers actually make real contributions to science. Likewise, to demand that scientists make real contributions to philosophy is equally absurd, but notice that no one ever makes this demand, which should tell you something about the origins of this faux controversy. The scientist does one thing and the philosopher another, just as the fire fighter does one thing and the police officer another. They clearly ought to work collaboratively and lean on each other’s work, but that doesn’t mean police officers need to start putting out fires, and nor do philosophers need to start solving physics problems.

          “If philosophy does not resolve any scientific problem, science, in its turn, does not resolve any philosophical problem.” — Gomez Davila.

          I might add that even among philosophers and scientists who do see the value in philosophy, and I suspect Maudin may be among them, there is a tendency to regard philosophy as the mere handmaiden to science, in that its primary purpose is to serve as a crutch and an aid to the super important stuff physicists and others are doing. Throughout the whole of the Middle Ages and well into the early modern period, philosophy was seen as the handmaiden to theology. I hope the current version of this view of philosophy will not take as long to die. Until then, science remains unjustly fetishized and philosophy unjustly denigrated.

          As a second addendum, as a scientist who thereby likely values empirical evidence, what evidence does Hawking have that philosophers haven’t kept up with the advances in science? I see none offered by him, but rather blanket declarations to this effect. How ironic. I would bet money that he thinks the demise of the “natural philosopher” amounts to the demise of the philosopher in toto, hence the claim that philosophy is dead. In reality, of course, the natural philosophers never did leave us; they simply changed names and are now called scientists.

          • Yam Yaryan

            The “advances” that have contributed mightily to the deplorable state of the environment, are they included?

            • Lemoncookies

              Not sure what you mean. I was referring to advances in terms of genetics, quantum theory, etc that have developed during the past century. The deplorable state of the environment is not due to these advances. At most, one could say that certain of these advances have enabled said degradation to occur, but one could not blame these advances per se. Rather, their use and application in certain contexts is what is blameworthy. Moreover, you may be confusing “science” with “technology,” which are not wholly synonymous. Many technologies have been developed that have been seriously detrimental to the environment, but it would be fallacious to equate a technology with all of science.

            • Yam Yaryan

              I disagree, respectfully, and I’m talking across the board, not in any one branch of science, but science as a whole. Technology is just the arms and legs of the scientific mind. The industrial revolution is a direct product of science.

            • Lemoncookies

              Correlation is not causation. Scientific advances in themselves cannot be blamed without committing a fallacy.

            • Yam Yaryan

              Science prides itself on discovery, and then having a second party take that discovery and apply it in a meaningful way….meaningful not necessarily being a good way, either.

              You can’t pull a Pontius Pilate here.

              If a scientist name Robert Oppenheimer discovers the key to physically unlocking the power of the atom, and then watches the manufacture of an atomic weapon or two, he cannot disavow a greater part of the blame when they’re dropped on a couple of defenseless cities.

            • Lemoncookies

              You’re still fallaciously conflating the discovery itself with the application of it.

            • Yam Yaryan

              No, you’re washing your hands….Pontius.

            • Lemoncookies

              The biblical example is not parallel to the present case at all I’m afraid.

            • Yam Yaryan

              I’m afraid you’re just typifying the elitist response one expects.

              Science is the father of technology and industry, and technology and industry are the largest contributors to any number of disastrous calamities perpetrated on the planet; you just can’t argue this point without looking like a pretentious fool, evidenced by you pretending you’re not washing science’s hands of what happens to their discoveries. You are, in fact, doing exactly that, so the Pontius Pilate analogy is quite apt (He is also found in the writings of Tacitus, which makes him a verifiable historical figure, as well).

            • Lemoncookies

              Okay, Yam, if you trip on the sidewalk and stub your toe, do you blame the person who invented concrete? If you burn your hand on the stove, do you blame the early hominid who invented fire? If you unwittingly contract a disease from a needle meant to vaccinate you, do you blame the person who invented the vaccine, or for that matter, the needle? If your computer suddenly stopped working, so that you were unable to write more asinine responses to me, do you blame the person who invented the computer?

              I could go on, but by now you ought to have realized that your position is absurd. Blame is always attached to the proximate cause of an event, which in the case of humans, also includes understanding the motives involved. How much moral philosophy have you read and how much basic logic do you understand, Yam? Any at all? Those in glass houses ought not to throw stones labeled “elitism.” I’ve merely shown you to be an ignorant peddler of fallacious arguments as well as a hypocrite. You don’t even know the underlying assumptions in your arguments to even spot what’s fallacious about them.

              (Here’s a hint: if you claim someone like Oppenheimer is morally blameworthy for his discoveries because those discoveries were then used to cause harm, then you are assuming some form of consequentialism and are also open to a rebuttal involving the legion of evidence which shows that science has benefited humankind in numerous ways, such as in the case of vaccines, as I mentioned earlier, which are themselves predicated on more fundamental advances in biology and other sciences and technologies.)

            • Yam Yaryan

              DDT / Thalidomide / Lead Based Gasoline / Asbestos insulation / Napalm / Dioxin

            • Lemoncookies

              And? Did you not read anything I just wrote? Apparently not, since you didn’t address any of it. If you’re going to engage in a battle of evidence, then your opponent can just as easily select examples of the positive benefits of science. Do you really want to play that game? So your whole position amounts to “some bad stuff resulted from scientific discoveries, therefore science is bad.” Sorry, no one’s going to be convinced by that, Yam.

            • Yam Yaryan

              I couldn’t care less. The premise that science is good or bad isn’t what I talking about anyway; you want your scientific cake on a plate, and you want to eat it, too, all the while avoiding having science take ANY of the blame for its appalling list of failures, it’s host of pollutants unleashed, its weaponry that adds much to human misery, all the quack treatments and medicines, not to mention experimentation on humans and animals, all in the name of science. There’s too many failures to list.

            • Lemoncookies

              You couldn’t care less? Then stop replying with the same bullshit post hoc fallacy. If you are deliberately impervious to logic, you should have said so earlier, for then I could have saved time doing more important things than lecturing an ignoramus such as yourself.

            • Yam Yaryan

              I’ll let Robert Oppenheimer take the stand for me, the man who stated after the second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki: “I feel like I have blood on my hands.”

              Case closed, you lose….to an ignoramus.

            • Lemoncookies

              Oh, you set me up did you? Is that an admission that you’re a troll? That possibility is growing with each new post of yours.

              What Oppenheimer feels is irrelevant to the proposition that he and all of science are morally blameworthy. You really need to learn some basic logic.

            • Yam Yaryan

              I daresay Oppenheimer’s P.O.V. is certainly pertinent to any premise of being morally blameworthy. Are you stating he is illogical? Robert Oppenheimer? Really? In all honesty, that sounds illogical.

            • Lemoncookies

              A proposition isn’t valid because you or someone else feels it to be so. The fallacy you have now shifted to is an appeal to authority, i.e. “science is morally blameworthy because this one important guy seems to suggest so.” Try again.

            • Yam Yaryan

              You dodged my question….

            • Yam Yaryan

              Just for the record, I’m not trolling, just stating my opinion on the “benefits” of science in their totality, not in an abstract sense. Scientific progress is human, and when science goes very bad, yes, I do believe the scientist(s), like, for instance, the scientific team that developed thalidomide, should feel damn guilty about their screw ups. I say GOOD for Oppenheimer being man enough to admit feeling guilty instead of trotting out the same tiring and dishonest disavowal of culpability you’re suggesting.

            • Yam Yaryan

              Set you up like a bowling pin….

      • Nedward Marbletoe

        agree philosophy vs science is ridiculous. science is a branch of philosophy…

    • ElGennaro

      Just watched a debate with a gentleman named Kruass telling a philosopher they have no value in real science . I believe Krauss is considered to be a well respected physicist .

    • BillMFl

      If I were to attempt an explanation of the “meaning” of life or existence in general, I would have to turn to philosophy and religion for speculative answers based on faith or guesses and assumptions. Science and engineering are fact based and over time, theories and applications are constantly improved, modified and updated and that process is a strength, not a weakness. Philosophy can contribute an interesting debate over the meaning of it all but doesn’t cure disease or put man on the moon.. Religion tends to set rigid faith based assumptions on the meaning of it all. It gives answers and meaning to life, death and existence to those who have faith. I personally see no system that can currently answer the big questions of the meaning of life and the existence of the universe. It is possible that there is no ultimate meaning and that all existence is a benign and random interaction of matter and energy that has no beginning and no end. Humanity here on earth will likely end long before we know the ultimate answers. Differences in philosophies and religions are likely to lead to our demise. Science, math and engineering will build the devices that either take us on a journey through the cosmos, or destroy us here on earth.

    • David Edwards

      I have several issues with this article.

      One, physicists do NOT discourage asking deep questions about the entities and phenomena being studied within their remit. What they DO discourage, is assertion-laden, data-free speculation being peddled as if it constituted established fact, and unfortunately there are some in the world of philosophy who are guilty of this.

      Two, I find the idea that correspondence with vast swathes of observational data is something to be dismissed as purportedly “lacking rigour”, itself to be a laughably non-rigorous idea. Quite simply, if your idea does not correspond with the data, then your idea fails to be descriptive of that data, let alone a sound basis for analysis of possible future data sets. Moreover, it was scientists themselves who learned the hard lessons on this, courtesy of the transition from Newton to Einstein, and who were foremost in applying the principle that an idea failing to correspond with the data is to be discarded, from the standpoint of its treatment as the best working hypothesis. That an idea remains a useful approximation under well defined conditions, and possesses utility value within those conditions by being conceptually and computationally simpler, is a separate issue from its status as the BEST working hypothesis. Indeed, I’ve yet to see anyone in the world of philosophy address the question of WHY a conceptual framework that is, in effect, wrong, should still provide an excellent approximation, despite being based upon essentially wrong core postulates. Perhaps the philosophers should address their own deficits before complaining about those of others.

      Three, my understanding is that philosophy is, at bottom, NOT about answers, but about teaching us to ask the right questions. Unfortunately, it seems that the summary dismissal of much of physics as “shut up and calculate”, shows that the philosophers haven’t been asking the right questions. That pithy aphorism was in part humour on the part of physicists, many of whom are aware that the REAL position consits of “master the calculations that work first, THEN ask deeper questions about what underpins them”. The latter, quite simply, being extremely difficult, if not impossible, without first mastering those calculations, because those calculations involve entities and processes of a highly counter-intuitive nature in the world of quantum mechanics, and without a thorough grounding in the data, any speculation is doomed to irrelevance. In short, the steps are:

      [1] These entities and processes behave in strange ways;

      [2] This mathematical framework encapsulates said strange behaviour with great precision;

      [3] Learn about [2] so that you have the body of knowledge to ask sensible questions about [1].

      Unfortunately, there appears to be a woeful tendency for some in the world of philosophy, to regard data as an annoying irrelevance that gets in the way of their exquisite theorising, resulting in all manner of fanciful fabrications being given undue status, including instances thereof that are flatly contradicted by that annoying data. Admittedly, the worst offenders in this regard tend to be those peddling some brand of religious apologetics, seeking to clothe said apologetics in a fake veneer of intellectual respectability by asserting the purported “philosophical” nature thereof, but this erroneous stance is not the exclusive purview of supernaturalists. In short, no amount of speculation about the sky being pink is worth bothering with, if all the observational data tells us that it’s blue.

      • BillMFl

        I generally agree with you. Philosophy has the advantage of not requiring verifiable data to support its conclusions. But they can generate very interesting concepts to speculate on. As an engineer who began his career in the very early days of mainframe computer equipment (think hand placed and soldered individual components and later the advent of the first single layer chips), I spent most of my career in applied science rather than theoretical. So I have to admit my bias. I still try to keep up with all the latest developments by reading a variety of publications. I thought the Higgs particle was a fine example of theoretical math prediction leading to eventual evidence of physical existence. I marvel at those who first create a math formula and then search for something in the physical world that fits that model. In my career I did the opposite. I first defined my goal or problem and then used math to help find the solution. Like you I am leery of any philosophy that smacks of metaphysical beliefs like religion, gods, souls, ghosts, etc. I don’t give much credence to concepts like multiple dimensions, worm holes or time travel but at the same time a really good science fiction book or movie that speculates on subjects like that can be very entertaining. I was a young grad student when 2001 Space Odyssey came out and it still remains one of all time favorites. Vampires, Werewolves and video games seem to be very popular these days. Says a lot about younger people these days. As a youth I was collecting rocks, minerals, insects and playing with my microscope and chemistry set. As an old man I’m now content to read about the exploits of others while enjoying my grandchildren and great grandchildren.

        • Yam Yaryan

          So the highest language of the universe, mathematics, in all its guises, which is totally conceptual and reflects the viability of the entire field of metaphysical and conceptual expression is bullshit? Is this what you’re saying? Numbers are 100% metaphysical; they have absolutely no physical presence, no form, no atomic structure, are conjured up in the mind and yet are routinely used to prove every single scientific concept….with the concept being the result of another metaphysical action, i.e. “the idea.” Please explain and justify this dismissal of the father of your entire science, the metaphysical king of the hill, the number. I’ll be very interested to hear you try to explain it away.

          • BillMFl

            If you read what I said more carefully I said I marvel at those who create a mathematical formula or model and then go on to find physical proof like the Higgs boson that it exists. That is math at its creative best. I never operated at that level. For me math was the tool that I used to find practical solutions for engineering problems. Call it practical applied math vs theoretical. You jumped to a conclusion because you seem not to have understood my point. The simple fact is without math, science and engineering could not exist as we know it today. I made a very good living using math in my career. I don’t need a punk ass lecture on the importance of its use whether theoretical or applied. Science and engineering get things done like putting a man on the moon. Theoretical math and philosophy can speculate and create interesting proposals or concepts that may or may not eventually be proven true. Or may even be proven false. But then you already know that. In the fields of physics and cosmology many a beautiful looking mathematical model or theory has been discarded when eventually shown to be wrong. Some of the biggest names out there have had to retract, including Einstein and Hawking. Knowledge in math and science is a saw toothed curve not a straight line. For me the overlap of science and philosophy lies at the cutting edge where speculation precedes any degree of certainty.

            • Yam Yaryan

              And then the scientific ideas, whatever their nature, are proven true or false by a metaphysical entity called “numbers.”

            • BillMFl

              Of course. Math is absolutely essential in a high tech world. Back in the stone age probably not so. As I am retired now at age 73, I would guess we are generations apart. I witnessed first hand the evolution of the computer age. From vacuum tubes to solid state. I truly wish I could be around long enough to witness another 70 years of discovery. If you are much younger, then I hope you have the chance to experience even more than I did. The baton in math, science and engineering is always passed on to those who follow and the growth in knowledge is exponential.

            • Yam Yaryan

              I’m 60, and you are the first science guy to say “yes.” Good for you.

            • BillMFl

              Well no real scientist would deny quantification . Some level of probability is often the best we can do.

          • Nedward Marbletoe

            i don’t think the natural numbers (at least) are metaphysical, but are simply our recognition of the discrete (quantized, digitized) nature of reality. one photon, two photons… never half a photon.

            • Yam Yaryan

              Nonsense. ALL conceptual creations are metaphysical.

            • Nedward Marbletoe

              that seems right, but what about the thing itself. numbers could be a physical thing itself, and our concept of them metaphysical.

            • Yam Yaryan

              There is NO such thing as an empirical number in its natural state. That’s my whole point, that numbers prove empirical statement true, yet they are not empirical in nature, an ironic situation for all the science is king due to empirical proof adherents, etc., and a vastly amusing one for me.

            • Nedward Marbletoe

              we are not amused. jk, it is funny.

    • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7BO_hqe_q0 Alone: bad. Friend: good!

      This gluon explanation really bothers me.

      They say red, blue and green quarks are shooting anti-green, anti-blue and anti-red gluons at anti-quarks and changing the color charges so that the color charge is conserved.

      That stuff just has to be correct!

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_charge

      http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d0/Neutron_QCD_Animation.gif/120px-Neutron_QCD_Animation.gif

    • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7BO_hqe_q0 Alone: bad. Friend: good!

      Most of modern physics has become words like “force carriers” to supposedly describe something they know nothing about.

      They have the incorrect model for everything.
      And they do not have any mechanisms to hold stuff together.

      MATH IS NOT A MECHANISM!

      They might say something like “gravity is the exchange of virtual gravitons.”

      You are happy with that as an explanation?

      How about electrons? Do you actually think electrons can be held in place without being connected?
      If you were holding a rope and I was holding the other end… we are connected.
      If you have a rope and so do I and we exchange ropes… nothing is connected and we will fly apart.

      Someone must have realized if the electrons are connected to the nucleus the connections will interfere with other connections.
      Like if you have a bunch of balloons on a windy day, the ribbons will all tangle up The same thing will happen with multiple electron connections.
      So they came up with the intermittent photon exchange, were the electron connections can actually pass through one another. Everyone believes it but it of course will not work. As soon as something is loose, it is loose and will fly apart.

      Why did this happen? That’s easy… the models are wrong and everything explained is like a patch for it.
      Proton and neutron are fairly correct models. There is an electron and photon but they are not like they say.

      .

      • Berttalk

        I think your missing the point. There are energy shells around the proton and neutron. The electrons are held in the energy shell based on their energy level. If the electron is perturbed and gains more energy it can move to a higher energy shell and then resides there. A electron that looses energy may move to a lower energy shell. So another way to say this is that there is a layered area or field of energy around the nucleus. the layers vary based on how far they are from the nucleus. The electrons move within the energy field based on the there momentum or energy.
        Like a magnet. There is no rope but the magnets attract each other or repel and their strength is affected by distance.
        I am not a scientist so my description may be crude but it is not hard to understand just like planets in orbit. Their momentum versus the pull of gravity determines their position around a star.

        • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7BO_hqe_q0 Alone: bad. Friend: good!

          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
          ENERGY CANNOT BE OUT ON ITS OWN.
          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

          Everyone has the wrong idea of what energy, forces and fields are.
          Energy is a particle vibration or movement.
          You cannot have energy without a mass, energy is mass vibrating.
          Energy cannot be out on its own. (a supposed mass-less particle is a particle nonetheless, but there are no mass-less particles, so that’s irrelevant)

          Same thing goes for forces.
          A force is a group of particles arranged in a field pulling each other… and all of the particles absolutely have to be physically connected.

          A force (a group of connected particles) can only push very short distances and in rare circumstances like same pole magnets.

          But the point is… a force has to have particles involved.
          A force cannot be out on its own.

          Most of mainstream physics is a misconception.

          There is no such thing as pure energy.
          Again… Energy is a vibration on a particle (or particle movement).

          Can energy be converted into mass?
          Ummm… no, energy already has mass involved, it is a particle vibration or movement. There is no pure energy and you are not going to convert energy into mass.

          Think of a guitar string. If you pluck it… that is the energy. If you remove the guitar string from the scenario… can you still have the energy? No, of course not.

          Can you convert the guitar string vibration into mass? No… that is ridiculous.

          Look at what everything really is…

          Dimensions and units…
          mass = [M] = kilograms
          length = [L] = meters
          time = [T] = seconds
          frequency = [T^-1] = seconds ^-1
          speed = [L] / [T] …… = m/s
          acceleration = [L] / [T^2] …. = m / s^2
          momentum = [M] [L] / [T] … = kg_m / s
          force = [M] [L] / [T^2] . = kg_m / s^2
          energy = [M] [L^2] / [T^2] = kg_m^2 / s^2

          Notice mass [M] is not equal to energy [M] [L^2] / [T^2] …the vibration is missing

          Here is what Einsteins famous equation really looks like…

          [M] [L^2] / [T^2] = [M] [L^2] / [T^2]

          Energy already is a mass times speed^2.

          How would you go about converting a mass times speed^2 into a mass times speed^2.

          • Berttalk

            I may need to be sure I understand your calculation broken down for Einstein’s famous equation.
            However lets see if I can read each description and I will respond to that. If I am reading your calculation wrong you can correct me and we can go from there.

            First [M] = Mass multiplied with [L squared] with L = distance divided by [T squared] T = time which is equal to [M] times [L squared] divided by [T squared]

            I used words to be clear what each letter and the square of a number. So just in case I am reading your mathematical short hand wrong you can correct me.

            So in any case I will go off of my reading of your calculation.
            I would say that E = MC^2 where E = Energy, M = Mass , C = the speed of light which is squared.
            So based on your calculations I am not sure why you are referring to distance and time. As distance and time have nothing to do with Einstein’s calculation.

            The important thing to realize in Eistiens Calculation is The speed of light is a fixed number it is a constant in all cases of the calculation. So speed is not an available variable. The variables are the mass of the object and the amount of Energy that results from the equation. So given this if you know two of the factors you can calculate for the third. Which is to say if you know energy you can calculate for Mass and visa versa.

            Its important to realize that time is not a constant it is relative to the rate of on an objects velocity versus the speed of light and this is an inverse relationship.

            • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7BO_hqe_q0 Alone: bad. Friend: good!

              “It would actually be more accurate to say all mass is energy.”

              — coool, then all energy is mass.
              And those energy shells you were talking about must be mass.

              p.s. you have no idea of what dimensions and units are and you think the speed of light is used as a number?
              Like… energy == mass times 12^2
              OR….. energy == mass times 144

              That’s completely ridiculous.

            • Berttalk

              I slightly misspoke however it still is reasonably accurate to say. I meant to say all matter is energy. However it may be reasonable to say Mass is a form of energy. Not unlike saying magnetism is a form of energy even though in reality its electromagnetism so its not entirely accurate but still I think it is reasonable to say.

              However to respond. You are using a lot of logical fallacies. To say that if all mass is energy therefore all energy is mass. It is like saying all police stations are brick buildings therefore all brick building are police stations. This therefore that is a logical fallacy of jumping to conclusions.

              Just as the idea that all matter must be connected directly or it would fly away. So you must be indicating that the planets are held to the star by some invisible strings. If not then why don’t they all just fly away. However if there are invisible strings connecting them why do they not get tangled since they don’t all orbit at the same rate but they do orbit on the same plane. So tell me what is holding the planets to the Sun?

              Finally yes the speed of light is a calculated number. The letter C represents the speed of light in any medium. The letter C is not used because the number does not exist or because the number is unknown. It is used in formula’s for simplification purposes in the reading and writing of the calculations. When the formula is used for calculating in the nuclear sciences and other physics calculations the actual speed of light is entered into the calculations.

              Though the speed of light is affected by the medium it transits. In these calculations it is used at the speed it travels in a vacuum.

              Just as when I do electrical calculations I use the formula V=IR I=V/R R=V/I. Where V = voltage, I = current and R = resistance. So when I actually calculate a circuit I put the known voltage and Resistance to determine the current and so forth. This I do with actual numbers I no longer use the letters as place holders I use numbers to calculate an answer so I can design or troubleshoot a circuit.

              Finally a fundamental aspect of scientific theory is the ability to make predictions of the behavior and aspects of a natural phenomenon. For a new theory or understanding to be accepted over an existing theory. The new theory must describe more precisely the aspects of the object or particle. As well it must make more accurate predictions of the behavior of the subject of the scientific inquiry.

              So to say physics is all wrong is a nice opinion but is of no value. If on the other hand you can make a calculation based on your better understanding of physics that is more accurate then the calculations currently being used. Then you can present that for peer review and if your math is shown to be correct. Well my friend prepare for a Nobel prize, your on your way. However if your idea’s of the universe result in no useful predictions then your ideas are not worthy of notice.

            • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7BO_hqe_q0 Alone: bad. Friend: good!

              You are an imbecile.

            • Berttalk

              Apparently you believe all scientist and everyone but you are imbeciles. You are a true legend in your own mind no doubt. You may now return to your fantasy world.

    • Joe Shmoe

      Ugh. Hawking embarrasses himself (and his profession) once again with a blundering overreach.

      Somebody should tell him that physics was originally called “Natural Philosophy”. He could learn a lot just from contemplating that linguistic evolution.

    • http://www.john-uebersax.com John Uebersax

      NOVA continues its long tradition of being incapable of grasping the issue of *moral* meaning to reality, and its avoidance of the fact that this issue has been a central concern of humanity for over 5000 years.

      And, while we’re at it philosophy (philosophia) itself is the love of Wisdom, not abstract speculation. Some NOVA videos are excellent, but overall the series serves as a propaganda vehicle for the materialist Wall Street establishment!

    • 20pizzapies

      The “shut up and calculate ” is only reserved for the obvious mystics , but it is applied in between the lines to any philosophical position . The author is quite correct although physicists and mathematicians do not express it in such wording . In the Sciences Occam’s razor is quoted , but the latter part is rejected out of hand in discussion and arguments by Theoretical Physicists and Mathematicians .

    • balayogi
    • Rahim

      The ancient church had a religious philosophy and the human species
      suffered because of it. They killed or exiled
      all those with conflicting knowledge of the world we live in. A philosophical ideal is nothing but something
      I feel and nothing has to be true or factual.
      One can argue any point philosophically and sleep well in ignorance.

      • Nag Hammadi

        Thank you Satan. Well stated

    • Nag Hammadi

      Truth, is what we are seeking. I will argue that TRUE religious doctrine is the tapestry that is needed for physics to be painted on in order for physics to move forwards. Physics in the realm of the unutterable is equal in ineptitude to philosophy in the realm of the unutterable. OUR physical reality is governed wholly and completely by every individuals conscious self moving within his or her own Lorenz attractor relative to the Nash Equilibrium ( which is a mathematical description of our portion of the Light of Christ in our Telestial reality ). Flesh is born of Spirit, spirit is born of the unutterable>3 realms. This is your tapestry gentlemen paint away….

      • Berttalk

        Einstein was able to present a theory that made Predictions that could be verified. It sounds like you have a concept. If your concept can make verifiable predictions that are not the result of already known science. Then your concept can become an accepted theory.
        Please submit such for peer review to the Physics community and get back to us with it when you do.
        Thanks

    • Nag Hammadi

      Physics will not move forwards until it comes to terms with the fact that we live in a Telestial realm with only a “portion of the light of Christ” not the fullness. This reality can be understood mathematically in “ALL!!!” of our relationships and in physics by using game theory and the Nash Equilibrium transposed against the fact that we naturally move towards this Equilibrium in the same way the Lorenz attractor draws the observer to itself. Furthermore, physics must come to terms with the fact that we live in the Telestial realm, far from our real home the Celestial realm and the transitional realm of the Terrestrial.

    • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7BO_hqe_q0 Alone: bad. Friend: good!

      Most of modern physics has become words like “force carriers” to supposedly describe something they know nothing about.

      They have the incorrect model for everything.
      And they do not have any mechanisms to hold stuff together.

      MATH IS NOT A MECHANISM!

      They might say something like “gravity is the exchange of virtual gravitons.”

      You are happy with that as an explanation?

      How about electrons? Do you actually think electrons can be held in place without being connected?
      If you were holding a rope and I was holding the other end… we are connected.
      If you have a rope and so do I and we exchange ropes… nothing is connected and we will fly apart.

      Someone must have realized if the electrons are connected to the nucleus the connections will interfere with other connections.
      Like if you have a bunch of balloons on a windy day, the ribbons will all tangle up The same thing will happen with multiple electron connections.
      So they came up with the intermittent photon exchange, were the electron connections can actually pass through one another. Everyone believes it but it of course will not work. As soon as something is loose, it is loose and will fly apart.

      Why did this happen? That’s easy… the models are wrong and everything explained is like a patch for it.
      Proton and neutron are fairly correct models. There is an electron and photon but they are not like they say.

      .

    • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7BO_hqe_q0 Alone: bad. Friend: good!

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      ENERGY CANNOT BE OUT ON ITS OWN.
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      Everyone has the wrong idea of what energy, forces and fields are.
      Energy is a particle vibration or movement.
      You cannot have energy without a mass, energy is mass vibrating.
      Energy cannot be out on its own. (a supposed mass-less particle is a particle nonetheless, but there are no mass-less particles, so that’s irrelevant)

      Same thing goes for forces.
      A force is a group of particles arranged in a field pulling each other… and all of the particles absolutely have to be physically connected.

      A force (a group of connected particles) can only push very short distances and in rare circumstances like same pole magnets.

      But the point is… a force has to have particles involved.
      A force cannot be out on its own.

      Most of mainstream physics is a misconception.

      There is no such thing as pure energy.
      Again… Energy is a vibration on a particle (or particle movement).

      Can energy be converted into mass?
      Ummm… no, energy already has mass involved, it is a particle vibration or movement. There is no pure energy and you are not going to convert energy into mass.

      Think of a guitar string. If you pluck it… that is the energy. If you remove the guitar string from the scenario… can you still have the energy? No, of course not.

      Can you convert the guitar string vibration into mass? No… that is ridiculous.

      Look at what everything really is…

      Dimensions and units…
      mass = [M] = kilograms
      length = [L] = meters
      time = [T] = seconds
      frequency = [T^-1] = seconds ^-1
      speed = [L] / [T] …… = m/s
      acceleration = [L] / [T^2] …. = m / s^2
      momentum = [M] [L] / [T] … = kg_m / s
      force = [M] [L] / [T^2] . = kg_m / s^2
      energy = [M] [L^2] / [T^2] = kg_m^2 / s^2

      Notice mass [M] is not equal to energy [M] [L^2] / [T^2] …the vibration is missing

      Here is what Einsteins famous equation really looks like…

      [M] [L^2] / [T^2] = [M] [L^2] / [T^2]

      Energy already is a mass times speed^2.

      How would you go about converting a mass times speed^2 into a mass times speed^2.

    • http://www.spaceandmotion.com Philosophy Physics Science

      There is a simple solution to this – and it comes from a correct understanding of philosophy, physics, and metaphysics.
      Metaphysics has as a fundamental principle – the idea that all is one and connected, there is one active substance that causes and connects the world.
      However, mathematical physics does not need this foundation, it has mathematics and equal signs to connect things, thus in physics you can have ‘particles’ that are treated as separate discrete things, connected by equations, but metaphysics would not allow this.
      Who is correct?
      The answer is obvious once known.
      Take the particle wave duality of light and matter. This is just poor use of language, since a particle is never observed, it is a theoretical construction to explain discrete energy exchanges (light quanta / photons) in discrete locations in space (matter particles), and most profoundly, we use wave equations to calculate this.
      So let us restate the duality correctly, we have a discrete energy exchange in discrete locations in space and wave properties of light and matter, and these are calculated using wave equations, i.e. we have a wave structure of light and matter.
      So then you would expect that a mathematics based upon wave equations in three dimensional space should explain all of modern physics.
      This is true, quaternion wave equations (quaternions being maths for 3D space and time / motion) do deduce all of modern physics, people can search the internet to confirm this.

      So our conclusion must be that matter is actually made of waves that cause discrete phenomena through resonance, and we mistakenly called these discrete things ‘particles’, and once we get rid of this incorrect theoretical construct of particles there is no conflict in physics, it is brought into harmony with philosophy and metaphysics, the real world we experience of matter continuously connected and changing in space.

      • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7BO_hqe_q0 Alone: bad. Friend: good!

        “all is one and connected, there is one active substance that causes and connects the world” — that’s correct.
        What is the source of that statement?
        Did you make that up?

    • Ger Groeneveld

      Math is a set of Axiom’s (operators, symbols) without units, physics attaches units and an possible interpretation within one set. Moving from one set to another (translation, rotation, mirroring, convolution, differentiate, integrate and any other operator you dream up) should be consistent with your own rules, axioms. Math is one way of expressing it in an unambiguous way.
      Philosophy can guard against interpretations of intermediate results where one can make the mistake of applying axiom’s (i.e. rigid body vector additions) from another set (bouncing billart balls) to illustrate how electrons interact (on that scale more a wave packet than a rigid body).
      One thing philosophy could help explain why we do cling do existing methods and are, more or less, forced (“Shut up and calculate”) to learn those methods even with a simpler to grasp theory available.

    • David Price

      I think the problem comes when physics ignores fundamentals of reality in order to explain observational measurements. The limits in our ability to measure a phenomenon lead to uncertainty in those measurements and our ability to make predictions. Scientist often act as if nature behaves this way. Existence exists, if there is some contradiction in measurements, the mistake is in the limit of our observations or in the mathematical theory itself. Nature is not vague. Contradictions do not exist in nature, only man.

    • Doug

      As rational beings, our minds do not accept the concept that paradox found in countless elements of reality (including the relationship between quantum mechanics and classical relativity) might point to a fundamental mechanism in the universe – the role of paradox.

      “It has been said that quantum field theory is the most accurate physical theory ever, being accurate to about one part in 10^11. However, I would like to point out that general relativity has, in a certain clear sense, now been tested to be correct to one part in 10^14 (and this accuracy has apparently been limited merely by the accuracy of clocks on earth).” – [A quote from Roger Penrose in a lecture held between Roger Penrose and Stephen Hawking at the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences at the University of Cambridge. The Nature of Space and Time, Princeton: Princeton University Press.]:

      On the other hand, studying the role of paradox would be a new, potential resolution to the unanswered question first posed by Einstein and Bohr. If the universe has no definable basis (is a null domain – equally doesn’t exist), it actually opens up the potential that a real and rationally constructed region within this null state (or universe) – where we do exist – is logically, far more possible. This is the case because the real (classically defined) portion is counter-balanced with one that is counter-rational. The two parts together (through the mechanism of paradox) form a structure that conforms to (conserves) the property of the larger structure – that it is a null state and “does not exist”. This solves the well-known boundary issue from an entirely new perspective. The only reason to take such a position, but also the amazing thing, is that this is exactly what we find in diverse features of the universe from theoretic constructs to physical reality.

      Studying the role of paradox is not about resolving the dualistic relationship between fundamental, concatenated frameworks. Rather it is about defining the general mechanism in each case that creates such non-reducible structure, and it can be done.

    • noboundryman

      It is said, that Einstein pondered some of his theories early in life, while staring at dust particles on the surface of water, or a similar imagination space where the interaction of the particles, became matter distributed across the cosmos for him. The relatively unrestricted two dimensional movement of the particles floating freely across the surface membrane, became a metaphor for the virtual vacuum void of space, where bodies interact in three dimensions without the restrictive force of localize gravity, where the disturbing force of gravity was so reduced that the mind could dismiss it, in order to ponder / understand some aspect of particle interaction happening in his mind on a vast universal scale.

      It was the imagination space in which the minutia of attractive, and repulsive forces could be considered in a highly purified way with less confusion in his mind. The nature of any new discovery is always a fuzziness, that grows ever more clear, until the focal point of understanding is finally attained. We can’t all be theoretical physicists, or heaven forbid engineers building buildings and bridges that fall down, or planes that crash. I suggest however, the concept of a (court jester) who, as we know, was the only one who could discuss certain controversial things with the king, without losing his head. I would like to act as that jester, in order to provoke thought, and spur intellectual experimentation in strange new directions, where discoveries lie. My mission in life. I suspect i’m not alone.

    • amtonio carlos motta

      The physics Beyond of the mathematics tolos. Nem of abstrato th ou ghosts.

    • mike4ty4

      I want to point out that there are some forms of philosophical writing which are very opaque, not clear and lucid. So the idea that “philosophers” are always clear … well, _some_ philosophers are. Yes, _those_ philosophers should be taken more heed of, as should anyone in _any_ discipline who values putting ideas on clear and firm ground.