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Cosmologists and why philosophers hate them

  1. Nov 20, 2014 #1
    Good day to everyone.

    This may sound like a silly question, but I'm interested in hearing some input regarding a reasoning why philosophers in general (at least, an endless amount of them on the internet) are so vehemently opposed to modern cosmological ideas. For instance, the amount of slander and hate directed at scientists/public educators like Dr. Lawrence Krauss, Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson and many others over the ideas of a "nothing" (quantum vacuum) or cosmological curvature seems horrendously extreme - enough to the point where it often just degrades into ad hominem attacks on a speakers clothing (in the case of the former) and public outcries as a satanist and evildoer (for the latter).

    I'm aware that in some cases, their faith is completely misaligned to any kind objective truth, and this is just a kind of self-defense mechanism. But in the secular philosophical social "biome", if you will, there is a nearly instant dismissal of these things with an equal amount of fervor, and I just don't quite understand it.

    I had a fellow academician jokingly say to me on this topic, saying something along the lines of "philosophers are jealous of our progress, since armchair rationalization gets them nowhere and they're still stuck arguing on thousand year old issues". While obviously this isn't completely true in aggregate, I'm left wondering if there is any weight to that statement.

    What do you think?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 20, 2014 #2

    Doug Huffman

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    I think that you are impeached by your mention of Tyson.
  4. Nov 20, 2014 #3
    Could you elaborate on what you meant, Doug?
  5. Nov 20, 2014 #4


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    As a popular media figure, he reaps criticism for dumbing things down, oversimplification, and inciting mythology. Making public science presentations is the quintessential no-win scenario.
  6. Nov 20, 2014 #5


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    Which philosophers are you referring to? Could you post some examples, please?
  7. Nov 20, 2014 #6


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    Right -- I'm not so sure there is such a thing as a "philosopher" anymore. And the description in the OP sounds more like a description of random internet trolls, not philosophers.
  8. Nov 20, 2014 #7


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    Philosophers certainly exist. Usually people to whom that term accurately applies are professors of philosophy. And there are many philosophers that do important work: philosophy, where it is useful, is about thinking clearly. In large part it's about dealing with logic and what sorts of questions to ask.

    The good philosophers generally interact closely with scientific observations in their work (and may interact closely with scientists). I've been really impressed by Daniel Dennett's talks on consciousness, for instance (though to be fair, my field of expertise if far from the concept of consciousness, so I may vastly overestimate how impressive he should be considered).
  9. Nov 20, 2014 #8


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    This is a case of begging the question. To answer the question is to implicitly acknowledge the assertion buried within it. To wit: that there are a statistically significant number of philosophers that hate cosmologists.

    TRB8985, can you provide something that suggests there is truth to the initial assertion?
  10. Nov 21, 2014 #9
    You're right, please forgive my lack of presentation and time yesterday. Here is a short list of professional philosophers that I have seen quoted by my fellow undergraduates when invoking wrath against what I described in my first post. I will have to ask around to get a better list straight from the source.

    • Professor Massimo Pigliucci - University of New York
    • Professor David Albert - University of Columbia
    • Professor Peter S. Williams - Gimlekollen, Norway
    Russ commented that my original post may be in reference to online trolls. While I can see online trolls acting in such a way, my situation relates to actual physical interactions with philosophers on my campus and their dismissal to even casually talk about the topic.

    In an interview several years back that Dr. Krauss was in, he mentioned something like "science (or perhaps more specifically, physics) has encroached into the territory of the philosopher". I've wondered over the past few years if that line of reasoning was onto something.
  11. Nov 21, 2014 #10

    Doug Huffman

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    I found Karl Popper's falsification a useful solution to the Problem of Demarcation, in The Logic of Scientific Discovery and its voluminous postscripts.
  12. Nov 21, 2014 #11


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    And Cosmologists should care that some Philosophers hate them becuz ... ?

    Haterz gonna hate, whether they're philosophers or just some yutz hanging outside the local convenience store. Have there been any actual confrontations where roving bands of philosophers attacked or otherwise molested an unwary cosmologist who strayed into their territory?

    In academia, there is always room for petty jealousies and rivalries between groups of academics. And one should be wary of making the hasty generalization that because three philosophers are put out by modern cosmological ideas that some blood oath of eternal hatred has been sworn by philosophers against cosmologists.
  13. Nov 21, 2014 #12
    I think useful to the discussion is to differentiate between a philosopher and a philosophy. My interest is science and the philosophy of logic and geometry that I think are basic to science. Modern cosmology came together in my view with General Relativity. Shortly after quantum mechanics was developed to work with the subatomic nature of the atom. If egos bias is removed from the discussion it is easy to move from GR to QM discussion in a respectful manner. My age is 68 with a degree in EE and a burning interest in Einstein/GR from when I saw the news of his death. Big Bang vs Steady State was hot topic and Bell Labs had just found by the CMB by accident.

    The philosophy of science and a knowledge of its history keeps GR and QM from conflict. I hope this thread survives.

    My point is that there is a way to discuss both perspectives in a respectful manner and it would be very useful for bringing together both the community and the science of this forum.
  14. Nov 21, 2014 #13


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    The Op's question has been answered and we don't discuss philosophy here.

    The answer, IMO, is because these "philosophers" don't actually know the science, so they can't really discuss it with anyone that does. It is likely none of these people ever took an actual course in the subject, oh but they don't have to know science, they're "philosophers". And even if they took a course, that certainly doesn't qualify them on the level of an actual cosmologist. That is a main reason we closed down the philosophy forum, people that knew nothing about the actual science full of misconceptions unwilling to admit they didn't actually know what they were talking about, but they talked about it at length. :rolleyes:
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2014
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