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

How could be unified the scientific knowledge?

  1. Aug 10, 2004 #1
    Is possible a systematic unification of the scientific knowledge? Make it sense? If so, what would be the profits and limitations of any interdisciplinary work in so distanct areas as Neurosciences, Ethology and Physics? (excepting technical applications of one field on other)

    Is being Science only information contained in our libraries?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 10, 2004 #2
    The whole idea of a unified theory is simply this: A denominator. This denominator is converted.

    For instance 24 hours / 1 day = 1
    Convert the hours to minutes, then to seconds, etc...
    How many hours, minutes, seconds, etc are in a variable.
    The unified theory would be one day, converted.

    The benefits of knowing a unified theory is knowing the property of variables.
    A elemental chart of everything.

    Here's my Theory of everything, awaiting conversion, and acceptance from you and whoever will see it is what I said it is. Geometry. If you can, please test my theory's points.
  4. Aug 11, 2004 #3
    I believe that we talk about different thiings. I don't pose about a physic or mathematic unified theory but on how to unify the scientific knowledge from very diverse areas. I don't suggest an extreme reductionism but the possibility of a relationship among disciplines.
  5. Aug 13, 2004 #4
    Over the last century (since the discovery of Quantum Mechanics and Relativity) the sciences have each been steadily adopting holistic theories simply because by definition holistic perspectives are more descriptive. Being more descriptive, they are also more useful than reductionist theories.

    Along with this development, a steady effort has been made to create a single holistic theory that can span every branch of the sciences in a meaningful way. Although physicists are rapidly approaching a single holistic theory, philosophers have already accomplished one that has been proven to meaningfully span both the cognitive and behavioral sciences. Hence, it seems both ends of spectrum of scientific disciplines are about to be anchored.

    When that occurs, it is expected that all the stuff between them will easily be described in terms of a single holistic theory. Very likely, such a theory may well be capable of being interpreted in any of five or six distinctive ways, each with its own particular strengths and weaknesses.
  6. Aug 13, 2004 #5
  7. Aug 13, 2004 #6


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    holistic means non-analytic. Instead of understanding things by breaking them down into their components, which presumably have simpler behavior, easier to understand, you study them as a whole (holos is Greek for whole, by no coincidence). Because you give up the easy road to simple behavior, you have to expect true holistic science to be hard. See also the physicists' distinction between perturbative analysis (easier) and non-perturbative (very hard). Not quite the same idea, but close.

    There are tons of trash going by the name holistic, which is a new age buzz word, but there is real science being done under that banner too. The Santa Fe Institute of Complexity comes to mind here. The papers in the Nonlinear Sciences section of www.arxiv.org often deal with scientific holism, if not by that name.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2004
  8. Aug 14, 2004 #7
    Holistic theories emphasis wholes, while reductionist ones emphasis parts. For example, to state that everything is made of quarks and leptons is a reductionist idea, while to say that everything is unified or one is a holistic idea.

    Your confusion stems from the reductionist habit of viewing the world in black and white, good and bad, etc. On the other hand, holism states that reductionist theories are part of holistic ones, and nothing is simply black and white. For example, Einstein's theory of Relativity is a holistic theory with its emphasis of the Strong Equivalency Principle and the spacetime continuum. However, you can still find Newton's reductionist theory of gravity as a gross simplification of Relativity.

    Is it space? Is it time? According to relativity it just depends upon the observer. Is it black? Is it white? Reductionism says it must be one or tother, while holism asserts it is both, you cannot have one without tother.
  9. Aug 14, 2004 #8
    Thank you. I think that your post is really interesting to center the question.
  10. Aug 14, 2004 #9
    I haven't such habit. But although from a phylosophical viewpoint I am holistic, as scientist I think that "holistic" must be defined with accuracy. In this respect, I agree with that Selfadjoint wrote in his post.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2004
  11. Aug 14, 2004 #10
    Yes, but then the only scientifically proven theory of linguistic analysis, functional contextualism, asserts that the context is what needs to be clarified before the definition can be made more accurate, and the definition is entirely dependent upon the context. In other words, the definition and accuracy of the concepts of holistic and reductionist are entirely dependent upon a holistic perspective.
  12. Aug 14, 2004 #11
    As you will know, the term “holism” was created by Jan C Smuts who wrote the entry on Holism and Science in the 1927 edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica:
    “Holism (from the Greek holos, whole) is the theory, which makes the existence of "wholes" a fundamental feature of the world. It regards natural objects, both animate and inanimate, as "wholes" and not merely as assemblages of elements or parts. It looks upon nature as consisting of discrete, concrete bodies and things, and not as a diffusive homogeneous continuum. And these bodies or things are not entirely resolvable into parts; in one degree or another they are wholes which are more than the sum of their parts, and the mechanical putting together of their parts will not produce them or account for their characters and behaviour”

    I think that holistic perspective can be used in Science in two senses:
    1) In the study of the so-called emergent properties. Interaction of parts conduct frequently to a system that, although reduced to its components, has new properties as a whole.
    2) As integration of scientific disciplines in the study of some particular complex systems as the brain.

    Are you in agreement?
  13. Aug 14, 2004 #12
    Yes I agree, but again, more to the point, the holistic perspective is fundamentally necessary in order to better understand reductionist perspectives. Holistic scientific theories such as Relativity allow us to better understand reductionist ones such as Newton's laws of motion precisely because they provide the invaluable context necessary.

    Using such techno-babble as "emergent properties", you could say that holistic theories are the emergent property of all reductionist theories. Or, to turn this around, you could assert that reductionist theories are all gross simplifications of holistic theories. Either way is valid precisely because the only demonstrable meaning of words depends upon their function in a given context.

    In other words, the scientific method itself can be conceived of through a holistic theory, and for science to make the most use of holistic and reductionist theories requires it adopt a holistic method. Hence a race has ensued to span all the sciences using a single holistic perspective.
  14. Aug 14, 2004 #13
    I like the discussion that is going on here. I like self adjoints post as well.

    What triggers the mind, wondering about the basis of reality? Could such pearls and strings, signify the cosmological structure of God's mind as neural synapses explaining different parts of the cosmos? :smile: Developments of differing stages of thought?

    After doing sometime here researching the issues of quantum gravity and quantum geometry it has become pretty plain that we are operating from a area below planck length that requires some rules about the "order" that would have to emerge?

    Is it unitary, that we might have look to people like Lauglin to help us describe a feature about self organizational principles that we had not realized could underly the structure of the nature of this reality.

    Post Cards from The Edge
    http://www.fortunecity.com/emachines/e11/86/graphics/beneath/BENEATH2.gif [Broken]

    Postcard from the edge: maybe we can never see much deeper into reality than the level of these subatomic particles

    Part of Smolins distillation was to look at Laughlin as well in his summation about what could possibly be considered from differing theoretical arsenals, to help us along here. So what langauge shall we adopt to help orientate our thinking, to deal with this strange world of uncertainty and bring out of it, a tangible way in which to deal nature phiosophy?

    So here for the first time we can all agree on some basic principles that require theoretical development to answer from a ununifying/unifying principle?

    I thank Marcus for his thread on Unitariness, as it is something I have been holding off on speaking about, and then quite honestly slipped my mind.

    So to help some people along I would have liked to place Smolin's summation( I have not found this paper yet) and paper, for those who know what I am talking about. You might have seen this distillation process was a good one for summarizing and might have been a good venture for one like Lubos or Baez to project on? Certain maths arise out of such logical reflectiveness?

    But anyway back to Robert Laughlin http://large.stanford.edu/rbl/lectures/index.htm [Broken]. Such principles have been spoken on in regards tothe higg's boson as a underlying factor about such consolidations, that the story of the professor crossing the rooms has certain implications tied to it.

    So who is right from this platonic ideas of discrete function or the Pythagorean string harmonies of nature? :smile: What are First Principles and I have been thinking about this a long time. Lauglin abhors this term?

    Historically, such ventures have been inbreed, in our inquisitiveness it seems. :smile:

    The questions of what math might emerge from such area below planck length is really a quest to find the math structures that would make it appropriate, to talk about such organization principles. So has LQG and String found something that Platoism and Pythagoreans, had not?

    Look at how well these two archetypal forms have materialize in modern efforts? :smile:
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  15. Aug 15, 2004 #14
    I don't see where Relativity is "holistic" and Newton's law reductionist.
  16. Aug 15, 2004 #15
    Thank you for your interesting links.
  17. Aug 15, 2004 #16
    Relativity postulates the existence of the spacetime continuum, that is, something whose parts are so close together they cannot be seperated. In other words, it focuses on wholes, in particular, the Strong Equivalency Principle.

    Newton's theory of motion treated time as some kind of etherial, ghostly backdrop against which everything occured. No matter what occured, spacetime was never affected. Einstein's treats it as an integral aspect of the existence of anything. No matter what occurs, it affects spacetime.
  18. Aug 15, 2004 #17
    I don' see it so. Your argument could show that Relativity is a reductionist theory: The nature of complex things is reduced to (explained by) simpler or more fundamental things.
  19. Aug 15, 2004 #18
    No, relativity works well with the cosmos, but not with smalll things, unless, you do something with it, like string theory does.

    What Kind of Geometry?
  20. Aug 16, 2004 #19
    I think that "Reductionism" don't signifies to work well with small things, but to explain the world with a few principles. Relativity is so reductionist because of it explain the cosmos with few principles.

    At its time, the kinetic theory was also reductionist when explained the gas laws, because of it used few principles. Nevertheless, this theory didn't know about atomic structure.
  21. Aug 16, 2004 #20


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Quantum field theory applied to condensed matter is then holistic (emerging entities like phonons and the like), while the same formalism applied to elementary particles is reductionist :grumpy:

  22. Aug 16, 2004 #21
    Yes, of course. Again, reductionist viewpoints can be found within holistic theories. The two are not mutually exclusive, and Quantum Mechanics in general is another holistic theory.

    While Relativity is a more pantheistic holistic theory, QM is mystical. These are the two rudamentary types of holistic theories. Pantheistic theories tend to assert a profound unity exists, while Mystical ones make no such assertions whatsoever.
  23. Aug 16, 2004 #22
    I don't believe that scientific theories be pantheistic or mystic. Science is clearly distinct of both Philosophy and Theology
  24. Aug 16, 2004 #23
    The mysterious is always attractive as a anomalie of nature?

    Further to your previous comments. I am trying to help in this unification process.

    If one does not engage the "history" one will never know the depth(the gravitonic density) that a magnifying glass has for us. :smile:

    Many Taoists would accept this holistic view?

    It is just another way in which to look at the world, and if by "chance," a thought is held in mind, any action, will be be precipitated by this. The causal world would then follow some preordained pathway, yet you would not know which, until the thought was precipitated?

    If you have a vast ocean from which all life might have sprung, and this ocean contains all probabilties, what "bubble child/universe" might have emerged?

    What Calabi Yau model would have emerged?
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2004
  25. Aug 16, 2004 #24
    As far as I know Taoism isn't Science but Philosophy.
  26. Aug 16, 2004 #25
    Your right. :smile:

    If you unify the cosmological with the quantum world, it is strange the relationships we can make :smile:

    The math arises out of such philosophical speculations? This is what I learnt when Smolin gathers his forces/information and produces new thoughts? New Math's? :smile:

    Maybe our own universe was God's thought?
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2004
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook