Philosophy of Science in Steampunk

  • #1
hi everyone--

for the philosophy of science course, I am planning to write a paper, and wanted to hear opinions about my topic. I am not a philosophy student (math&physics), and haven't taken that much of philosophy courses, so I can't go real deep about any subject, but I want to apply what I have learned throughout the course. I was in general thinking about writing about EPR paradox and bell's theorem, or in other words about the philosophy of quantum (or philosophy of science in early 1900's), then this thing came up.

postpunk is a fantasy genre, generally speaking, which has its setting in late 1800's in britain, where steampower is still in use, and where Verne's or Wells' stories, and technologies, are real. I want to speak about the Kantian nature of such a thing is first of all, because obviously euclidean and Kantian ideas are on top, and quantum concepts like time travel and so are degraded to a more classical nature (such as in Wells' the time machine).

it seemed like a nice idea at first, as I have inspired upon our talk with the professor about frp, but I somewhat ran out of ideas. can anyone suggest some feature of steampunk that can be used in such a paper, in some philosophical content? I am open to any comments anyway.

thanks for reading this long--
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Math Is Hard
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I'm sorry to see that this never got replies. What angle did you end up taking on the topic?
 
  • #3
I decided to go more classical, and now currently writing about Maxwell and van Fraasen on observation. It wasn't going to be deep enough, I guess.
 
  • #4
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I decided to go more classical, and now currently writing about Maxwell and van Fraasen on observation. It wasn't going to be deep enough, I guess.
I would have liked to have engaged, but I didn't really understand your subject very well. I was thinking along the lines of identifying the aspects of Well's time machine that were consistent with some philosophical implications of theoretical physics of that time period, then identifying philosophical aspects that seem inconsistent with the theory of that time period. Then, survey the scene from the standpoint of contemporary physics. But, you probably were not interested in pursuing the Wells example.

Maxwell is certainly an interesting subject. He was great as an observationalist but also provided one of the greatest examples of developing a theory out of shear intuition and intellect--and the application of mathematical derivations (Maxwell's equations). This had implications for the philosophy of physics. And this of course caught Einstein's attention, and, noticing the curious implications about the speed of light, drove him to pursue his theory of Special Relativity.
 
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  • #5
Oh, I'm sorry I didn't specify that Maxwell is Grover Maxwell, an American philosopher of science (I just noticed there is not a wikipedia entry of him). In his "the Ontological Status of Theoretical Entities," he argues against different types of empiricism, and gives a solid defense of realism. Van Fraasen, afterwards, defines his own "constructive empiricism," which is neither empiricism (in the classical sense) nor realism (well, there is no need anyway). You can read some here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constructive_empiricism

About the steampunk, I guess some of your thoughts would have been very useful to me, if I were to write. Well's time machine would have been an example, and what I was originally thinking was something like "how would steampunk affect the course of philosophy of science?" For instance, Kantians would have been very happy, with their Euclidean geometry and classical mechanics dominating.

Anyway, I decided to abandon this steampunk idea, though I liked it at first. It wasn't going to be philosophically creative, but more like a collection of ideas (sure there can be a creative one but I felt like I am not capable, about this topic).

Thanks for your interest, though, it is very much appreciated.
 

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