Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

All Real Scientists Unite

  1. Nov 1, 2004 #1
    All Real Scientists Unite !!!

    This is a message to all real scientists : this extract clearly shows how the semi-scientists (also referred to as philosophers) share their view on us. We are the "mechanics" or the "technicians" and though we construct the theoretical models, we donnot know how they work, according to them phillo's... :biggrin:

    Any comments ???
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 1, 2004 #2

    arivero

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Let me tell, philosophy has some utility when it is to be understood as a branch of science, then helping to develop the theoretical mechanism, instead of just trying to catalog and "historyze" its development.
     
  4. Nov 1, 2004 #3

    matt grime

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    I'm sorry to disappoint, Marlon.
    I've no real intention or wish to read that whole thread on semi-scientists in the philosophy forum. I skimmed the first and last two pages or so.

    As (currently) a professional mathematician I am far nearer philosophy than solid state mechanics, and I think that there are many interesting facets of philosophy that can shed light on (meta-)mathematics. Yes, there are aspects of philosophy that I find distasteful, but then there are people similarly abusing science.

    We can all agree the Sokal incident shed useful light on a misleading use of philosophy (though properly it was social science misusing mathematics, and not philosophy stating something misleading about mathematics). However, we also have the brothers Bogdanov in "our" side of the camp.

    Here is a link that you may find interesting (since medals seem to be important in that discussion, shall we have a Fields Medallist involved?)

    http://www.dpmms.cam.ac.uk/~wtg10/philosophy.html


    I believe that I read a paper/preprint by Jon Baez last year on higher dimensional algebra (n-categories) and string theory in which he called for more philosophers to think about the implications of string theory (after all, there is no empirical evidence for this, so in what sense is it a hard-science?).

    Then there are subtleties such as the axioms of choice and constructibiity that lead on to some odd happenings (I will not call them paradoxes: they aren't).

    I don't suspect this is the answer you wanted, but philosophy is useful and unnecessary at the same time to a mathematician, at least that is the argument Gowers proposes, and I agree in the main.

    Incidentally, I'm sure that at some point someone metioned quantum entanglement, penrose and consciousness, since that seems to be a current favourite. Can I suggest that anyone who wants to say anything about this, as if Penrose agreed with them,
    read, preferably, his books and papers and this interesting article

    http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/penrose.html
     
  5. Nov 1, 2004 #4
    Hi matt,
    As a matter of fact it is. Thanks...

    You are quite right here. Philosophy is useful and necessary at the same time. I pointed out the exact same point in the semi-scientists-thread. The problem is that there is no clear boundary that defines what philosophy really is. I think it needs to be seen as a science when it is "done" by mathematicians or physicists themselves, thinking over the results and implications of REAL scientific results. The string-theory-example is a very good point you made. Though there are no experimental results (yet), string theory is to be regarded as a real science because it is born out of QFT and Special relativity and general relativity. The development of this science is based upon checking and comparing theoretical results by real scientists all over the world. Ofcourse it is still speculative to some extent, yet some theoretical consensus is gained because QFT and GTR cannot be denied or interpreted in thousand different ways. Philosophy can, that's the point here in my opinion.

    Don't mind that you did not read the entire semi-scientist-thread,... it is a useless sequence of insulting posts...

    regards
    marlon
     
  6. Nov 1, 2004 #5
    Indeed you are right arrivero, thanks for the reply...

    Philosophy belongs to the physicsts and mathematicians and all other real scientists. It is no science on itself...

    marlon
     
  7. Nov 1, 2004 #6

    jcsd

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    The problem is that many, probably most philosophers do not know enough about science to offer any insight on it, the bets people to talk about the philosophical implications of science are scientists otherwise you not only risk highly subjective statements but statements that are objectively wrong.

    The question is can you name one person whose sole domain is philsophy (i.e. not a physicist or mathematician) who has made any contribution of note to modern physics (i.e. quantum physics and relativity)?

    I don't object to philsophy in genral, what i do object to is modern academic philsophy. There are some worethwile parts such as the study of symbolic logic which can help us to understand physical and mathematical theories, but in the main the moden academic subject of philosophy contians very little of value. This is as many valuable subjects that were formally in the domain of philosophy have now become academic subjects in their own right leaving the modern philospher to pick over the scraps.
     
  8. Nov 1, 2004 #7

    matt grime

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    There are philosophers who have made useful contributions to mathematics in the meta- sense. However if any philosopher were to prove a usefultheorem in mathematics surely we'd regard them as a mathematician, and their sole domain of philosophy would no longer be sole? The foundations of mathematics benefit greatly from philosophy.

    Besides, why do you pick modern physics?

    Prof J. Mayberry has just published a book about the foundations of maths for instance. He is a philosopher in a mathematics department, or a mathematician in a philosophy department. Either, or both, or neither? Is Russell and Whitehead mathematics or philosophy. What about the mathematical arguments in Wittgenstein?
     
  9. Nov 1, 2004 #8

    jcsd

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Okay I suppose in some sense I was being to limting as Russell was trained as a philospher and logican rather than an out-and-out mathematician, but still these days it is a real rarity for someone with who is the sole product of a philosphical background to contribute to mathmatics. Interestingly Wittgenstein had a mathematics-haevy engineering background.


    Howver this is really about the natural sciences rather than matehmatics, I picked modern physics as this is one of the areas that philosophers (that is philsophers in the snese of those direct;ly involved in the acadmeic subject) seem to make the most noise about, yet fail to produce any work of substance.
     
  10. Nov 1, 2004 #9
    Not only physics or mathematics are "real" sciences but also biology/psychology/economics. But the traditional scientific method doesn't work very well for some of these important sciences. For example, in macro economics it is impossible to construct controlled experiments in order to evaluate socialism, effects of increasing the money supply or different patent rights. One can only look at the effects of many uncontrolled historical examples and the "beauty" of the theory proposed. One can dislike the inexactness of this, but the theories guide extremely important real-world decisions that must be made. So here the questions asked today in the philosophy of science are extremely important. To quote cogito,

    Also, it seems that in string theory, physicists have also abandoned the traditional scientific method of testable, falsifiable, controlled predictions. And instead are arguing on the grounds of elegance and the other factors mentioned above.
     
  11. Nov 1, 2004 #10

    ZapperZ

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    I did not want to participate in this orgy anymore (notice I have stopped responding in the thread in question in the philosophy section). However, a couple of your points require to be addressed. I will start with the last point you made:

    I will not disguise my uneasiness about String theory and its variatons. And I'm not the only one either. Robert Reardon, in his op-ed piece in Physics today a few months ago, reflected a similar sentiments. Even in Brian Greene's fabulous TV documentary on The Elegant Universe, you would have heard several times the caution that if String theory cannot produce measurable consequences, it isn't physics, but rather a philosophy. So I have no defense to counter all the attacks against String theory since I have been known to be on the offensive myself.

    Secondly, I will need to address the quote you attributed to cogito:

    If this is true, then these philosphers should not want any of us "practicing physicists" from participating in their discussions, since we are nothing more than a "glorified mechanic". We have no clue on the "criteria for justified inferences....", and we have no idea on how scientific ideas are confirmed.

    If all of these are true, then it is certainly an amazing venture we physicists are doing. We meander through our work like zombies, discovering new things, expanding the boundaries of our current knowledge, without actually needing to know how these things are finally accepted to be valid. Are we actually working just on auto-pilot, where we go on confirming this and that, without actually bothering to philosophize why such things actually occur? More importantly, does that mean philosophizing about such things are really not necessary, since we can still do physics without understanding them? After all, we really don't ".. know about the different models of scientific theory confirmation", and yet, we do continue to confirm and disprove theories all the time. How are we able to do all that, and yet still be ignorant of all the epistemiology associated with it?

    Strangely enough, the last part of cogito's quote reflects the sentiment that I have always stressed upon : how is one able to analyze and criticize something without knowing clearly what it is? Is it sufficient to have simply a superficial idea of something to make one able to make judgement calls out of it? I have taken a couple of philosophy of science classes as an undergraduate. Does that make me competent to make judgments about philosphical issues? Is someone who majored in philosophy of physics and has taken several physics classes can be considered competent enough to know about physics to make an accurate analysis of it?

    It all boils down to the "distrust" of philosophers analyzing physics and physics practice, and physicists espousing philosophical issues. I am not competent enough, nor do I pretend to know much about philosophy. Thus, based on cogito's argument, I have decided that my "lack of understanding" of the complex "epistemiology" of my profession isn't welcome there, and that's why I have withdrawn my participation from the philosophy section.

    Zz.
     
  12. Nov 1, 2004 #11
    First, I do not have an advanced understanding of the philosophy of science like cogito. But it is my understanding that there have recently been a revolution in this area with many new insights. Many people seems to think that the field died with Popper and his followers, while in reality today his ideas have lost most influence. Today it seems to associate quite closely with mathematics in areas like Bayesian probability and algorithmic information theory.

    My point regarding string theory is not to criticize it. It is that the best way to find support for it and decide which variant is correct may be in questions now discussed in philosophy of science. It may never be possible to prove it using the traditional criteria, but maybe with new criteria like improved versions of Ockham's razor.

    For some examples of the current discussion in the philosophy of science, look at "understandable papers" on the homepage of Chaitin:
    http://www.cs.auckland.ac.nz/CDMTCS/chaitin/#UnderstandablePapers
     
  13. Nov 1, 2004 #12
    I totally agree with your words on this one,...It seems quite the truth to me because every time you speak these words of wisdom to a "real philosopher", you will get the most angry words back as a reply...Seems to me you are then touching some sensitive "part" in the philisopher's "constellation"...

    regards
    marlon, and thanks for the reply...
     
  14. Nov 1, 2004 #13

    ZapperZ

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    I guess this is where you and I disagree. If what you meant by "traditional criteria" is experimental verification, then I do not see any substitution for that (or maybe I'm just protecting my job?) :)

    I think this is what makes physics different than many other "non-physical science" field of studies.

    Zz.
     
  15. Nov 1, 2004 #14
    I will just put in my little opinion and then leave everyone to their own thoughts. I am an MD and hold a PhD in sociology. I have always been a proud and intellectually demanding man. In my field I was a genius, or so I thought. I was head of the psychiatry department at a med school and taught sociology at the same time (“Science and Society” was my theme). I was a “successful” man.

    Then I would go home. It is not easy for me to admit that there I gave my hapless children anxieties and wore out three wives with my insistence on cerebral perfection. Was I still successful or a genius?

    It is a shame that it took a stroke and the face of death to wake me up. I survived but it turned me into an invalid and stole some of my brain power. Typing this post took most of the morning and a great deal of pain.

    Here is something I have learned. When we go home to our families we are not physicists or biologists or doctors or university professors. Actually the truth is bigger even than that: we are NEVER what we “do.” We are always human first. But if we let what we do give us our identity or puff up our egos or be such intellects we can’t feel, then we’ve subordinated our humanity to our talents.

    There is no reason to be against philosophy as it is practiced here. Let it represent our humanity. By not recognizing other fields and other peoples accomplishments, all it will do is disillusion the public with science, and confirm the negative stereotypes many people already have of scientists (as you probably know doctors aren't faring too well in the reputation department either).

    If society is going to prosper, there has to be a blending of the different areas of understanding just as LWSleeth has been suggesting. Don’t try to make everything science or mathematics because everything isn’t. Bring your understanding to all discussions but be just as willing to listen to that which you know nothing about as you are eager to contribute what you know. I do not believe I am being overly sentimental to put forward the idea that intellectual charity and mutual respect can help us all work together to make the world a better place.



    Thank you and have a good day.
    Morris
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2004
  16. Nov 1, 2004 #15

    arildno

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    My personal view is that:
    1)By forcing yourself to express your ideas in quantifiable/mathematical form enable others to pick out (possibly subtle) logical flaws in your arguments/pet theory.
    2) By forcing yourself to express your ideas as experimentally falsifiable predictions allows nature to kick your butt occasionally, no matter how elegant and appealing your theory might be.

    Physics is perhaps the only human endeavour in which we try to achieve both of these goals.
    (Maths, as such, try to satisfy 1) whereas sciences like chemistry/biology/medicine strive to achieve 2) ( 1) being hopelessly out of reach, due to the complicated subject matter))
     
  17. Nov 1, 2004 #16
    Hi Morris,

    Thanks for the reply but there is nothing wrong with discussing our visions on the "usefulness" and "definition" of philosophy and all that comes with it. Every real scientist like a physicist or mathematician or biologist or MD will recognize the fact that not everything in live is science and facts. Nobody here is denying the major influence that "emotions" can have on human behavior and even on an entire society. However this has little to do with a comparative study of real exact science and philosophy. I agree with statements like "though psychology may not work like math, it is a real science". Nobody is gonna say that the study of human behavior isn't a science...the point is philosophy isn't a science for many reasons that already have been quoted here and in other threads.

    regards and many thanks for your input
    marlon
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2004
  18. Nov 1, 2004 #17
    arildno,

    AMEN TO THAT :approve: :approve: :approve:

    thanks for your reply...

    marlon
     
  19. Nov 1, 2004 #18

    arildno

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    Morris:
    I completely agree with you reply; humans are never, ever, reducible to a single activity they might pursue, or, for that matter, ideals they uphold/cherish.

    In fact, this shows to me the need for something which "overarches" our particular disciplines, points of view which to some extent enables us to integrate our various personas/pursuits.
    In particular, something which cannot be said to be science, but valuable nonetheless.

    In my humble opinion, though, this is basically the area of the arts&writers; I find more of personal value in a good novel than in a philosophical essay.
     
  20. Nov 1, 2004 #19
    Sorry for jumping in again, but once again AMEN TO THAT.

    I find personal value in classical music...especially the many beautiful "opere grandi" of W A Mozart. Like Die Zauberflöte or Don Giovanni for example...just my personal opinion and taste...

    marlon
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2004
  21. Nov 1, 2004 #20

    This is the last thing I will say on the subject because I don’t have the ability to keep up with the young lions. Why do you keep insisting philosophy has to be science? It is not science. Science is science and philosophy is philosophy. Each does things differently.

    The entire point of my former post was the importance of learning to appreciate domains for what they are, and not to look at them in comparison to science. It seems like you are trying to make a competition between two disciplines which have distinctly different approaches. It is a disservice to philosophy or any other human endeavor to maintain that usefulness be judged only by what science achieves.

    Enjoy your science! If you so desire, enjoy philosophy! If you are not inclined philosophically, then it doesn’t mean you must demean philosophy to fully take pleasure in science.

    Thank you and good day,
    Morris
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?



Similar Discussions: All Real Scientists Unite
  1. Is all real? (Replies: 2)

Loading...