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Philosophy and Physics: Am I a loser?

  1. Feb 9, 2013 #1

    I recently joined this forum, so forgive me if I am totally wrong.

    I was looking around the different boards, and I was really enjoying what I was seeing. This seems like a wonderful place to learn more about physics and mathematics.

    But then I saw this post: https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=669066.

    I understand that this is a physics board, and that most of you, like most people, probably think that philosophy is dead, or useless. If this is the case, what aspects of it do you hate?

    I realize that in itself, philosophy is not very productive or useful. But I will never say that it is a useless subject to study. I have learned many things from being a phil major, and I think that it has helped me with my physics studies. The ability to think critically is very important in science, and I believe that philosophy has helped me with this greatly.

    What are your thoughts on this?
    Is philosophy useless?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 9, 2013 #2


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    I enjoy philosophy and I think everyone should learn some. In general, I'm a supporter of liberal arts educations for scientists.
  4. Feb 9, 2013 #3
    Cool beans!

    What aspects of philosophy do you think help scientists?
  5. Feb 9, 2013 #4


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    The self esteem gained from knowing you aren't a philosopher =D. In all seriousness, I can't think of a single benefit modern philosophy could have for scientists.
  6. Feb 9, 2013 #5


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    I was a Chem Eng student over 40 years ago, and I thought that taking Philosophy courses (mostly comparative religion back then) was a nice balance. Having been brought up as a Catholic, and rejecting it early, I benefited from a variety of viewpoints. I shifted to liberal arts partially on the basis of my honors adviser's recommendations. It was not a bad move. He was a professor emeritus, and I valued his advice.
  7. Feb 9, 2013 #6
    Personally, I feel that philosophy is completely useless in science.

    Don't get me wrong there! I'm just saying that a good scientists doesn't need to study philosophy to create good science. Philosophy might be useful to get the big picture.

    Feynman said that ornithology was useless to birds. Well, he's right. Birds don't need ornithology to be able to fly and to live. That doesn't mean that ornithology is useless. The same with science. You don't need philosophy to be able to produce good science, but that doesn't mean that philosophers are losers.
  8. Feb 9, 2013 #7


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    I'd be hard pressed to argue that my philosophy background helps me align my Ti:Sapphire laser.

    However, I do think it's important for educated people to know how to think and where the opinions and ideas they hold originate, as they very rarely are totally our own invention. Hence I think philosophy is important.

    Also History, English, Foreign Language, etc. On an idealistic level, I think that knowing only physics does not make one an educated person. There is more to learn in life than math and physics.

    On a practical level, I think humanities studies help exercise one's writing ability, which is sorely needed in the sciences if the papers I'm reading this week are any indication of the average writing ability of scientists. :rolleyes:
  9. Feb 9, 2013 #8


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    I don't allow philosophy in the lounge due to the mess it creates. It's just not something that goes well on the internet.
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