Physics/metaphysics: where do you draw the line?

  • #1
Loren Booda
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Is there a sharp distinction between physics and metaphysics, or is their difference often undefinable? Can metaphysics ever affect physical reality? Is either more valid than the other?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
I don't buy anything 'metaphysical' at all...
 
  • #3
Mr. Robin Parsons
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Originally posted by Zero

I don't buy anything 'metaphysical' at all...

So the metaphysical responce of "In an infinity the center can be everywhere" doesn't mean anything to you Zero?
 
  • #4
metaphysical

i believe in metaphysical things. physics is more like mathematics where metaphysics is more of the mysteries of life. i might be wrong though.
 
  • #5
where to draw the line?

...When it gets too religious,mystical and contradicts everything that is currently considered to be factual...
 
  • #6
wuliheron
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Hat's off to you Loren, yet another deep question.

Physics is the study of relationships while metaphysics are underlying principles or assertions of theories and world views. Chuang Tzu is once said to have commented that Taoism has no metaphysics. Thus I would draw the line between physics and metaphysics at Taoism or a spontaneous open mind.

This might sound strange to some, but it really isn't. When a dancer or musician become lost in their art they don't use any underlying principles or world views, they just do their thing. Likewise, physics can be practiced as an art in just such a manner.

As Zero says, he doesn't have any metaphysics. You could say the same thing for the Paradox of existence or Quantum Mechanics. As Stephen Hawking once said, QM is a theory about what we don't know. Hence it has no metaphysics unless you consider ignorance to be a metaphysical concept. :0)
 
  • #7
quantumdude
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Originally posted by Loren Booda
Is there a sharp distinction between physics and metaphysics, or is their difference often undefinable?

For starters, a physical theory must be contingent on experimental results. That's not to say that all non-contingent theories are metaphysical, but it tells us which ones aren't metaphysics. I am reading Beyond Experience, an online intro to metaphysics (I have a thread on it, somewhere on the last page of the forum. I'll revive it when I get a chance). The author says that metaphysics is not so well defined, and is pretty much whatever metaphysicians decide to call "metaphysics". He says that metaphysics is best defined by citing typical metaphysical problems, some of which are...

1. Nature of personhood.
2. Personal identity through time.
3. Nature of space and time.
4. Nature of pain (or any other perception).

Can metaphysics ever affect physical reality?

Metaphysics is a collection of theories, not an active force in the universe, so 'no'.

Is either more valid than the other?

They can be on equal footing as far as deductive validity, but they differ in that you can never know if a metaphysical theory is 'right'.
 
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  • #8
quantumdude
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Originally posted by Zero
I don't buy anything 'metaphysical' at all...

I don't think that's possible. Everyone holds to metaphysical theories in some way. Do you believe that a fetus is a human being? Why or why not?

Your answer would count as a metaphysical theory.
 
  • #9
wuliheron
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Everyone holds to metaphysical theories in some way. Do you believe that a fetus is a human being? Why or why not?

Ritual

Well established hierarchies are not easily uprooted;
Closely held beliefs are not easily released;
So ritual enthralls generation after generation.
Harmony does not care for harmony, and so is naturally attained;
But ritual is intent upon harmony, and so can not attain it.
Harmony neither acts nor reasons;
Love acts, but without reason;
Justice acts to serve reason;
But ritual acts to enforce reason.
When the Way is lost, there remains harmony;
When harmony is lost, there remains love;
When love is lost, there remains justice;
But when justice is lost, there remains ritual.
Ritual is the end of compassion and honesty,
The beginning of confusion;
Belief is a colourful hope or fear,
The beginning of folly.
The sage goes by harmony, not by hope;
He dwells in the fruit, not the flower;
He accepts substance, and ignores abstraction.
 
  • #10
quantumcarl
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Originally posted by Loren Booda
Is there a sharp distinction between physics and metaphysics, or is their difference often undefinable? Can metaphysics ever affect physical reality? Is either more valid than the other?

"Metaphysics" fall under the category of

"If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it... is there a sound?"

My answer to that is... as some know... yes there is a sound...

it is egocentric to think that if I don't hear a sound or see a rock fall down there are no physical properties suchas sound or gravity.

I use this example to explain that "meta"physics simply means physics princibles that occur without our knowlege of them.

If and when we are able to do more empirical and quantifiable experiments that deal with phenomena and the source of phenomena we will be breaking new ground and we will be converting "metaphysics" into physics... as progress is made.

Therefore... I see no line between the two definitions, physics and metaphysics.

I see a line between egocentricity and open mindedness.

That's my take, Loren.
 
  • #11
Loren Booda
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Has/Can past metaphysics become the physics of present?
 
  • #12
quantumcarl
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Originally posted by Loren Booda
Has/Can past metaphysics become the physics of present?

Hi again... yes.

I recently met an astrologer whom I asked about the physics of astrology.

She told me that there are some books that go into the physics and the effects of certain forces associated with certain planets and suns in certain locations throughout the earths event horizon. The gist was that they act on certain glandular structures, liquids, hormones, neurons and molecular alignmnents... via Chaos Theory as well as, no doubt, Fractal Influence.

It is somewhat entangled in Chaos Theory... which... suprisingly... is reflective of many of the philosophies and metaphyisical teachings of the past.

I think WuLi could come up with about a thousand examples of past methods of physics or metaphysics that are, today, touted as modern physical laws or princibles.
 
  • #13
Loren Booda
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quantumcarl-

The daunting challenge to justify astrology would need developing a predictive model based on the disparate actions you mentioned. How would you interpret in simple physical terms and with what formulae characterize the various influences that, e. g., all other people have on you?
 
  • #14
wuliheron
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I think WuLi could come up with about a thousand examples of past methods of physics or metaphysics that are, today, touted as modern physical laws or princibles.

I don't know about a thousand, but the most striking one that comes to mind is Democritus' idea that randomness unlies physical reality. That's essentially what Quantum Mechanics asserts today. Notably, it also provides a unique metaphysics never conceived of before. That of Shrondenger's Cat which can be alive and dead at the same time.

Loren, perhaps an even more pointed question is where does one draw the line between physics, metaphysics, and mysticism. :0)
 
  • #15
quantumcarl
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proximity nullified

Originally posted by Loren Booda
quantumcarl-

The daunting challenge to justify astrology would need developing a predictive model based on the disparate actions you mentioned. How would you interpret in simple physical terms and with what formulae characterize the various influences that, e. g., all other people have on you?

Loren... not that I am either an astronomer nor an astrologer... but... imagine.........."all other people".... would fit as a dot in Jupiter's postpardom red spot....

Consider the emensity and the surface areas... the mass and the electromagnetic influences of the planets... not to mention a sun.

Combine certain specific combinations of these factors with positioning during conception and birth (and other significant events of one organism's emergence into the physical world) and you can see that the influence of a person or 6 billion people on that one person is but a drop in the bucket of much larger and much stronger influences.

This, of course, relies on negating distance and nullifying proximity while taking into account the massive influences of one person's event horizon in relation to the event horizons of several planets, gravitational and electromagnetic events. One would think other people would have effects of this nature... however... lets remember people are made of over 75 percent water.

Sort of a siccors cut paper ... rock breaks siccors...paper covers rock assessment here!
 
  • #16
Loren Booda
3,099
4
quantumcarl-

The basic tenets of cosmology include isotropism and homogeneity, meaning that, on average in the universe, all points are centers and no point is preferred over the others - red spot, blue spot, or green spot - this galaxy or next.

Astrology is anthropomorphic, that is, astrologists endow human characteristics upon science in a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Influences are there, but we have yet to fully describe the motion of one neutral Helium atom!

Astrology undersells the beautiful complexity of the body and soul as sophistic rolls of dice.
 
  • #17
TENYEARS
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If you were born deaf dumb and blind, would you know you were? What would it take to understand this? I should not waste food like this here, there are people in life who have a real desire to understand.
 
  • #18
wuliheron
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The blind feel the sun on their face,
the deaf feel the beat of the bass drum,
and both dance in the warmth of sun,
and under to cool moon.

I was born with sight,
but I've never seen the ultraviolet.
I was born with hearing,
but I've never listened to the stars.
I was born with awareness,
that I've never understood.
 
  • #19
Loren Booda
3,099
4
wuliheron - So it may be with metaphysics, a sort of philosophical "ESP" that presages physical awareness.
 
  • #20
quantumcarl
770
0
Originally posted by Loren Booda
quantumcarl-

The basic tenets of cosmology include isotropism and homogeneity, meaning that, on average in the universe, all points are centers and no point is preferred over the others - red spot, blue spot, or green spot - this galaxy or next.

Astrology is anthropomorphic, that is, astrologists endow human characteristics upon science in a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Influences are there, but we have yet to fully describe the motion of one neutral Helium atom!

Astrology undersells the beautiful complexity of the body and soul as sophistic rolls of dice.

Loren Booda,

o\Of course, all science is anthropomorphic. Our measurements and observations and interpreatations are made from the perspective of an endoskeletal, bi-laterally symetric, neuro-cognizant point of view. We relate what we observe to how it effects us in every science...

it is very hard to separate the relationship of our receptors from what they are receiving.

Medicine is all about anthropomorphism. All science is anthropomorphic since science was created by anthromorphs. We place our own rigid grid on what was here long before we were in an attept to interpret the workings of the physical.

What we have been unable to grasp or coral or pigeon hole are the underlying influences that give rise to the physical. So we call them "beyond physical" or metaphysical.

So, what's your point?
 
  • #21
wuliheron
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wuliheron - So it may be with metaphysics, a sort of philosophical "ESP" that presages physical awareness.

ESP or knowledge or awareness or feeling of acceptance that could ultimately be beyond explanation. You could call it philosophy, you could call it mysticism, but it is our most clear connection between body, mind, and spirit as they converge in the paradox of existence.
 
  • #22
newton1
152
0


Originally posted by greeneagle3000
i believe in metaphysical things. physics is more like mathematics where metaphysics is more of the mysteries of life. i might be wrong though.

i prefer physcis loh....
i think it more logically
metaphysical is maybe for someone...
but physics is for whole world
 
  • #23
TENYEARS
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You are fish swimming in a tank with no walls and water is not required. You acknowlge you boundries quite well.
 
  • #24
Mentat
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Originally posted by TENYEARS
You are fish swimming in a tank with no walls and water is not required. You acknowlge you boundries quite well.

It is obvious that you disapprove of something that is being said. What is it exactly, that you disagree with?
 
  • #25
Loren Booda
3,099
4
quantumcarl-

We have no option other than to observe through our given human senses. We can choose, however, to be relatively objective and not claim a preferred postion in the universe.

I do not disagree that astrology is a legitimate belief or metaphysics, I just observe that it seems discrete from physics and promotes bad science in general.
 
  • #26
Mr. Robin Parsons
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Originally poste dby Quantumcarl

o\Of course, all science is anthropomorphic (SNIP)

I disagree with this entirely, as anthropomorphic is placing human chacteristics into animate, and inanimate, things.

Saying that "A rock is made out of crytals" is definitely NOT an anthropomophisism, not a chance of that, as being a crystal is not a human quality, so we are not "Morphing the rock to appear as a man"!

WOW!
 
  • #27
quantumcarl
770
0
What sign are you? "Slippery when wet"

Originally posted by Loren Booda
quantumcarl-

We have no option other than to observe through our given human senses. We can choose, however, to be relatively objective and not claim a preferred postion in the universe.

I do not disagree that astrology is a legitimate belief or metaphysics, I just observe that it seems discrete from physics and promotes bad science in general.

Loren: I am not suggesting astrology is a science since it has not been accepted as such by the science community...

I disagree that astrology promotes bad science... since it is not considered a science, it promotes something other than science.

There has been no investigations into the physical events behind astrology. It would be good science to work diligently on finding correlations between physical phenomena and the claims of astrology.

Parsons:

It is anthropomorphic to say the a rock is made up of crystals etc...
in fact "anthropomorphism" is anthropomorphic.

"Rock" is an anthropomorphic definition of a type of matter.

"Crystal" is an anthropomorphic description of a type of matter.

"Matter" is the anthropomorphic interpretation/terminology for what has been anthropomorphically determined to be condensed "energy".

The list goes on.

I propose a toast.
 
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  • #29
Loren Booda
3,099
4
Mr. Robin Parsons-

No need to get personal. quantumcarl's last response to me seems reasonable enough. I would sooner use the term "anthropic" rather than his "anthropomorphic," though.

"To 'Governing dynamics, gentlemen'"
 
  • #30
quantumcarl
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Parsons... find the kiddy section

Originally posted by Mr. Robin Parsons
QuantumCarl you are really lame,.........

LOOK *HERE*http://encarta.msn.com/encnet/features/dictionary/DictionaryResults.aspx?search=anthropomorphic"

Doesn't fit the definition

You might want to start a special section for name-calling-little children like yourself to play together here, at the Physicsforums.

You've attracted quite a few people *exactly* like yourself to the forum so you will have some carbon copy company at the KIDDIE's PHYSICS TREAD.
 
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  • #31
Mr. Robin Parsons
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Originally posted by quantumcarl
You might want to start a special section for name-calling-little children like yourself to play together here, at the Physicsforums.

You've attracted quite a few people *exactly* like yourself to the forum so you will have some carbon copy company at the KIDDIE's PHYSICS TREAD.

Lets see, I anthropomorphisized the link by using the word "turkey", as in I gave the turkey the human quality of being able to reveal to you the/answer/being that it needed to demonstrate HUMAN characteristics, and YOU assume that I am talking exclusively to you, the only person here(?) and not really just addressing an entire forum of potential readers, somehow hoping to slightly amuse some of them.

Now that Quantumcarl is a demonstration of just how childish you truly are, nothing more.

As for myself, I had loooooong agoooooo admitted to having a "childlike" nature, by the Grace of God, hence running a children’s section would probably be something that I could do, just that I have probably got a better challenge out of some of the people in these forums who, as adults, are no more then "Poseurs'.

It is also abundantly clear that you never, even so little as, addressed the question of your assumption of the definition of the word "anthropomorphic" as 'all encompassing of everything verbally human', as opposed to what the 'talking' ^turkey^ told us all.

That is a childish dodge.
 
  • #32
quantumcarl
770
0
blah blah blah

Originally posted by Mr. Robin Parsons
Lets see, I anthropomorphisized the link by using the word "turkey", as in I gave the turkey the human quality of being able to reveal to you the/answer/being that it needed to demonstrate HUMAN characteristics, and YOU assume that I am talking exclusively to you, the only person here(?) and not really just addressing an entire forum of potential readers, somehow hoping to slightly amuse some of them.

Now that Quantumcarl is a demonstration of just how childish you truly are, nothing more.

As for myself, I had loooooong agoooooo admitted to having a "childlike" nature, by the Grace of God, hence running a children’s section would probably be something that I could do, just that I have probably got a better challenge out of some of the people in these forums who, as adults, are no more then "Poseurs'.

It is also abundantly clear that you never, even so little as, addressed the question of your assumption of the definition of the word "anthropomorphic" as 'all encompassing of everything verbally human', as opposed to what the 'talking' ^turkey^ told us all.

That is a childish dodge.

Parsons comment on his own reply "That is a childish dodge".

Exactly... look whose dodging the issues. Both Loren and myself perceived you as a name-caller. Now we can see you are an unappologetic one. You are simply defending your hormonal outburst and poor sportsmanship.

Look at it this way... this is Loren's thread about where do you draw the line between physics and metaphysics... it has nothing to do with the dictonary definitions and spelling bees you want to promote.

This thread has nothing to do with you or I being right, either. It is a discussion thread not a showcase for name calling or defence tactics... or hiding... or tricking people into liking you... or any of those delinquent and destructive behaviours of child-like minds.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I imagine you still don't understand what I was trying to say... and its very simple. Our perception of all things is determined by our condition as humans.

If a snail can perceive a rock, its perception is going to be one that is arthropomorphic (since it is an arthropod). In fact it may consider grains of sand as rocks. Where humans will consider sand as sand, especially fine sand.

Its all about relativity and the relationship of the perceiver with what is perceived.

Very simple. Tell that to the little turkeys in the Kiddie's section.

As for the "line between Physics and Metaphysics"... I have already said what I wanted to point out quite a few posts ago.

The line is drawn only by our ignorance of what laws lay beyond the known laws of physics.
 
  • #33
TENYEARS
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The line is drawn only by our ignorance of what laws lay beyond the known laws of physics.

This is good.

Carl I have a question solely for you. If someone says yes this is what gravity is, science agrees it becomes an accepted fact tell me will it become a realization at that point or just fact? Would not that be blind acceptance of what science says is real if it does not become a realization to you? How would you know they were right?

Does an understanding have to be knighted by "so called science" in order to be true? Did Einstien not figure out the theory of relativity until enough people amassed to say yea maybe he's right?

There is something very embarrassing going on in the scientific world right now. If Eienstien were here he would laugh his ??? off. He would say what do you mean you don't know what universal theory is?

One does not need to have their understanding knighted by science for it to become real.

Happy Easter And Good Night
 
  • #34
Mr. Robin Parsons
1,256
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Originally posted by Quantumcarl
Exactly... look whose dodging the issues. Both Loren and myself perceived you as a name-caller. Now we can see you are an unappologetic one. You are simply defending your hormonal outburst and poor sportsmanship.

That two decide that there perception is therefore fact, does not make it so! I did not dodge, I responded!

Originally posted by Quantumcarl
Look at it this way... this is Loren's thread about where do you draw the line between physics and metaphysics... it has nothing to do with the dictonary definitions and spelling bees you want to promote.

Which is why my comment on the very first page, of this thread.

But naturally, I had wanted to make certain we are all 'on the same page' in the usage of langauge, it is how I have heard communicating is done, otherwise it is 'sorta' worthless.

Note how you continue to use childish reference, "spelling bee's", not me.

Originally posted by Quantumcarl
This thread has nothing to do with you or I being right, either. It is a discussion thread not a showcase for name calling or defence tactics... or hiding... or tricking people into liking you... or any of those delinquent and destructive behaviours of child-like minds.

WOW! so if someone here arives at what seems like a generally 'consensused' answer, still nobodies right? what do you discuss for? if not to stregthen your own grasp of it "all", hence communicative manner, word usage, (read the definitions of the words, don't just copy/paste them) verballizations, are what lead to the understandings of the nature of the discourse.

Improper word use is a mislead.

And I see again the childish 'refers', and no admission from you, to any error, but I might just have committed one, now, simply by responding to you again, so I, God willing, will stop here, towards you, because.......

Originally posted by Quantumcarl
If a snail can perceive a rock, its perception is going to be one that is arthropomorphic

Even with the help of a dictionary you don't seem to realize the essence of what that word does, as the snail is NOT imbibing the rock with it's own character, it is recognising the outer grain of sand using it's inner sense of perception, I surely doubt that it sees the grain of sand as if it were another snail, as that is what Arthropomorphic means!(implies)

Does that help?

Sorry Loren, just trying to draw a 'metaphysical line' *here* (tee hee)
 
  • #35
Mr. Robin Parsons
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Aside from that, I would have agreed with Loren's statement about astrology, just that I might have tried something like "Anthro-zoo-pomorphic" as clearly astrology attemtps to instill "animal qualities" into humans, Piscies the fish, Leo the lion, Aires the goat, except Libra, the scales.

Same thing in the Chinese astrology, the Monkey, Rabbit, Snake, all attempting to 'see' the characteristic behaviours of the animals in question, as applied to humans, and their characters, and qualities.

It is a 'Metaphysical Perception', to say the least, as there is no direct, or (reasonably) indirect, evidence, that demonstrates it as "truthful", over time.

Least, not to the best of my knowledge, provable knowledge.

EDIT; TY'PO
 

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