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Why is philosophy looked down upon?

  1. Mar 23, 2015 #1
    Now, I do not wish to make the generalization to all physicists as it is not true, but I have seen a general trend of philosophy being looked down upon by my peers and some professors. While it is a subjective subject, it stems from the same "tree" of reasoning: trying to understand what is currently not explainable by using logic. Is philosophy looked down upon because it falls within liberal arts and is subjective despite using logic to formulate arguments?
     
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  3. Mar 23, 2015 #2

    phinds

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    I think it's because STEM type folks prefer studies and discussions that lead to answers over ones that just lead to more arguments.
     
  4. Mar 23, 2015 #3

    Evo

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    The reason "philosophy" doesn't work here is that we have non-scientists, spouting misinformation about subjects they don't know, but thinking it's ok to do so if they call it "Philosophy".

    As Feynman put it
    Science and philosophy split a long time ago, IMO, with one branch pursuing actual science and the other just wondering about things.
     
  5. Mar 23, 2015 #4

    russ_watters

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    Philosophy is fine for unknowable/illogical musings(what is love?), but whenever it delves into logic on topics that overlap with science it tends to do very poorly. Worse, many people use philosophy to improperly skirt the rules of science.
     
  6. Mar 23, 2015 #5
    I agree with this. I personally enjoy both physics, and philosophy; but prefer to keep the topics of discussion/consideration fairly separate...
     
  7. Mar 23, 2015 #6

    dx

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    I think its mainly because of the signal to noise ratio. Its not that philosophy is bad in itself, but just that a large percentage of what is called "philosophy" is nonsense.
     
  8. Mar 23, 2015 #7

    Doug Huffman

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    Karl Popper answered the Problem of Demarcation of science from nonsense with falsificationism in his The Logic of Scientific Discovery. Unfortunately, much of modern "science" (scare-quotes) falls on the wrong side of that boundary.
     
  9. Mar 23, 2015 #8
    I feel like the signal to noise analogy could go both ways.
     
  10. Mar 23, 2015 #9

    dx

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    That's definitely true. That's why we need moderators here, to keep the noise down. Although I think the problem is much bigger with philosophy, because there are no checks. There are no experiments.
     
  11. Mar 23, 2015 #10

    dx

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    I think it essentially comes down to the fact that the really important problems and questions in philosophy are so difficult and elevated that the idea of a "professional philosopher" doesn't really make sense. There will only be a handful of people per century who really say anything important or new philosophically. Science is built on established principles and firmly laid down rules of logic, which enables incremental and "normal science" to go on and be kept on track.
     
  12. Mar 23, 2015 #11
    I would tend to agree, I think part of the problem comes from undergraduate level university classes with titles like "Philosophy of Science" that mislead people into thinking they are learning science, when they are actually learning philosophy.... Although to philosophy's credit, logic, rationality, and critical thinking are all very important abilities (and are sadly growing ever more rare in society).

    Interestingly, I saw a college (can't remember which one) that offered an undergraduate degree in "philosophical physics".... Nothing to say about that, just found it interesting.
     
  13. Mar 23, 2015 #12

    Doug Huffman

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    Might philosophical physics be metaphysics?
     
  14. Mar 23, 2015 #13

    Professional Philosopher in today's times would require a level of intellect that I personally have not witnessed (in my generation at least).
     
  15. Mar 23, 2015 #14

    symbolipoint

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    Regarless of the fine statements made in this thread so far, one of my best Mathematics teacher earned his major degree in Philosophy and minored in Mathematics.
     
  16. Mar 23, 2015 #15
    That was my initial thought, but for some reason I feel like it was a degree dedicated to learning physics, without rigorous mathematics... I'm going to try to locate the university again.
     
  17. Mar 23, 2015 #16

    epenguin

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    Which rules and principles are perfectly certain and may not be questioned or enquired into. And indeed it is perfectly certain and universally agreed what these principles actually are. How they are applied to every case and question is automatic and will never occasion any doubts or disagreements. As with other belief systems Scientists tend to proclaim these principles more especially out of their working hours, e.g. here in the evenings, or on Sundays. We need not wonder what they do on weekdays since, just as much as with other belief systems, their practice then must obviously and necessarily be totally what they proclaim on Sundays. Oh, and there is just one thing that is absolutely excluded by Science and Scientists - dogmatism and the pretentions of certainty that go with it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2015
  18. Mar 23, 2015 #17
    I can understand the frustration expressed by Evo

    But I don't think the problem here lies with philosophy. I think the problem lies with people ignorant of the details of both philosophy and science asking questions to those who have a better understanding.

    I think that anyone studying physics should have a background in philosophy. Not a formal background necessarily, but one fluent in the sciences should at least be semiliterate about ancient Greek philosophy and the philosophy of the Enlightenment (and it wouldn't hurt to have also read Popper and Kuhn at the very least). I echo the sentiments expressed by CP Snow that one who chooses the humanities exclusively over science or vise versa is 'self-impoverished.'

    I doubt anybody here would downplay the historical significance of the connection between science and philosophy, but I would also respectfully disagree with the sentiment that

    Certainly there are some fundamental scientific values that have not changed since the Enlightenment. For example, Newton's 'rules for reasoning in natural philosophy' align well with current practice but these rules were disputed by other greats around the same time, perhaps most notably Descartes. Now I realize that this is perhaps 'a long time ago' so a famous, more recent example would be Mach's rejection of Newton's conception of absolute space and time as defined at the beginning of the Principia. You are probably aware that it was Einstein's reading of Mach that led him to develop his theory of relativity.

    Perhaps one of the most intriguing examples of how philosophical principles have aided in the development of physics is Maupertuis principle of least action. Maupertuis conception of the principle of least action was metaphysically motivated and, although it has undergone significant revision, this is arguably the most important and far-reaching principle in all of physics.
     
  19. Mar 23, 2015 #18

    Evo

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    This supposrts what I said, *philosophy* split off at least a few hundred years ago, one branch became science, the other stayed philosophy. We do science here, not philosophy.

    Hawking on philosophy.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technolo...-Hawking-tells-Google-philosophy-is-dead.html

    If you want to shoot the breeze, philosophy is fine, if you want to discuss real science, then philosophy is not appropriate. People tend to feel that not knowing a subject is ok as long as you pretend it's "philosophy", uhm, no, you need to know the science. There is no excuse for "discussing" the science if you don't actually know it.
     
  20. Mar 23, 2015 #19

    epenguin

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    This thread might benefit if contributors stated what they have read or studied of philosophy (In the eminent cases of Hawking and Feynman, it seems safe to say, very little) and then compare that with the amount of knowledge of Science they would require a philosopher to have before they would admit him qualified to make any pronouncements on Science.
     
  21. Mar 23, 2015 #20

    Evo

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    They would need to have degrees in the science they wish to discuss, then it wouldn't be philosophy, it would be discussion of the actual science.
     
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