Why did they ignore Bohr?

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  • #26
apeiron
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This thread still interests me and I have a few questions. Are you saying that a lot, if not all, profound truths are preceded by profound mistakes? Or that nobody could come up with a profound truth without at least being aware of the profound mistake. And maybe a profound truth can show you a profound mistake that nobody ever made yet . So it goes both ways, a profound mistake can help you discover a profound truth, but a profound truth could also help you discover a profound mistake. If you run into one, you will eventually run into the other. No matter which comes first.

What Bohr was clicking into was the ancient insight about the inescapability of dichotomies. If one thing seems to be ultimately true about reality, than so is its negation.

So it is not about making a profound mistake first. Instead the identification of what seems a profound truth always brings with it a profound negation - its "contrary other" - that also seems just as logically necessary or true. As Hegel said, thesis and antithesis. Or as Tao said, yin and yang. Kant called them antimonies - but his approach has technical problems IMHO. Bohr called them complementaries.

At first, this can seem like a metaphysical mystery. But it becomes common-sense when we see it as simply event and context, figure and ground. For something to stand distinct, it must stand within an equally distinct and robust background. You cannot write on water. But you can make black marks on a white paper.

So don't get hung up on the "mistakes". It is just that every profound local truth would need a profound global truth to complete its truthfulness. And backgrounds are crisply difined by negation - A and not-A. Whatever A is not is by logical definition the background.

Louis Kauffman did a good paper on three attempts to codify this in Cybernetics & Human Knowing 2001.

http://www2.math.uic.edu/~kauffman/Peirce.pdf

Joedawg would probably benefit from reading a modern view of these things by a top theorist. :smile:

And about always wanting to reduce things to one. Could this duality you speak of have implications about uniting GR with QM? That maybe they can't be united to one.

I definitely see this as the story. And also the reason why the two have proved so resistant to being collapsed into a monism - one kind of stuff.

Modern science has stared the universe in the face and discoved it divides crisply into a local and a global description. The local view has yielded QM and the global view has yielded GR. So they form a dichotomy - QM~GR.

Except the way they are currently framed in technical detail is not a dichotomy. So the natural complementarity remains hidden.

Furthermore, following from the principles of dichotomies (systems thinking) we can see that the mixing of QM and GR gives us the thirdness, the third thing of a middle ground, that is classical newtonian physics. This is in effect the decoherence view of QM.

So QM, GR and their mixing as a flatly classical realm gives us a hierarchy.

Then this all has to be wedded to the notion of vagueness, the axis of description we would use to model the development of a system.

So what would be predicted to be the case is that when we attempt to fold GR and QM back into each other, we will find they jointly go vague.

The quantum gravity project has a different expectation. It thinks that GR (a globally continuous view) can successfully be atomised or reduced to a QM locally discrete view. Broken up crisply...along with any observers who might be hanging around.

When you examine the QG approaches, they in fact start resorting to fields, to dispersion factors, to higher dimensions. These are in fact ways of introducing the necessary vagueness IMHO.

So yes, all this is directly about the current state of physics and cosmology as well. I am interested in making explicit the logic that is only really implicit in the approaches making progress.

Which is why I am interested in what happened to Bohr's metaphysics. It seems an opportunity that was not taken. And it is instructive to consider the cultural reasons why.

He called for a paradigm shift that would make our ideas clear. Pre-WW2 science, Euro-centric and with a Hegelian tradition, was reasonably receptive to this holistic and systems based approach.

But world science then became dominated by anglo-US funding, anglo-US technologic goals and thus ultimately anglo-US intellectual biases. We all had to learn to think their way.

Interestingly, I have always found that Canada has taken a more European line. Lots of good systems thinkers based there.

There have been great systems thinkers in the US as well - not all of them imported from war-torn Europe. But, as with Peirce, they have no honour in their own land. Intellectual xenophobia abounds.
 
  • #27
So you're basically saying that the Anglo-Americans are not philosophical enough. When compared to the continentals. The anglo-americans are more rigid/wooden. Not as much into metaphysics. Though this obviously has some benefit. Nobody can argue with the success of American and Anglo science in the recent past. I've seen you kind of hint at this in other posts. That there isnt enough philosophy in science these days. Nothing like the almost mystical figures of Bohr and Einstein. These guys were not only great scientist but incredibly deep men. I feel we don't have many, if any, of them in the modern age. Which is why I like Dyson so much. I think he is kind of a throwback to the old school.
 
  • #28
apeiron
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So you're basically saying that the Anglo-Americans are not philosophical enough.

Not being philosophical is still a philosophy - not-A, of course. :devil:

No, the widest take on this would have to be dichotomistic if I were being consistent. In the old days, I used to think that standard issue anglo-saxon reductionism was just wrong and some form of holism must be the "truth".

So I framed the situation as either/or. And one side had to be "right". This is the natural monadism that arises from binary dual thinking and is itself a symptom of what I was feeling critical of.

Now I take the inclusive view where our modelling of reality would naturally exhibit two poles of thought - the analytic and the synthetic, the reductionist and the holistic, the atomistic and the contextual.

Each completes the other. Together they are a total approach to epistemology.

So it is not east good, west bad, or anything so crude. Just aligning the two sides of the one system correctly.

Reductionism is your scalpel if you want to build machines. Holism is your canvas if you want to paint pictures of the whole. A rough analogy but I hope you get what I mean.

Reductionism does have its philosophy (even if a lot of the time it does sound like an anti-philosophy, as when there was a vogue for logical positivism).

But what I really object to is what we see a lot of the time on anglo-saxon dominated forums like this one - where the "other" is automatically wrong.

My position is fundamentally inclusive. Saying that, it is the wholeness of holism that includes the mere part that is anglo-saxon reductionism. So holism does win I guess. :cool:

As I also say, this talk of euro vs anglo is broad generalisation. But it should at least alert people to the fact that there are other coherent and long-developing views out there.
 

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