Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Physics and Philosophy - Thoughts on the Implications of Quantum Mechanics, and Other Matters #7

7. Although physics and philosophy travel different paths through the world of truth, an occasional intersection may be found. When physics reaches the furthest extant of its reach, which can often be a grey, uncertain area, then philosophy holds sway. Often the philosophical species encountered will manifest as metaphysics. Conceived forces, causes and effects can be useful tools for the scientist pushing the boundary of human knowledge. Possibilities may provide avenues worth exploring. Metaphysical musing lacking a basis in physical reality are little more than mysticism at best, or intellectual self-stimulation at least. Modern truth requires proof.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Physics and Philosophy - Thoughts on the Implications of Quantum Mechanics, and Other Matters #6

6. Physics is a science based on the study of the material world and associated phenomena. A combination of mathematics and observation form the basis for attempting to ascertain physical laws and the causes of certain occurrences. Its successes are apparent. Its failures are not illuminated by its limitations. The inability, to see where its questions are no longer answerable by its methods, is a flaw. Consciousness is a case in point. Why does it exist? “Explain the mind? How absurd.” Despite positivist pretensions, some questions have not even begun to be asked.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Physics and Philosophy - Thoughts on the Implications of Quantum Mechanics, and Other Matters #5ii

5ii. Postmodern “thought” is a large factor in the degeneration of academic humanities.[7] Meaninglessness taints anything contacted or connected to its advocates. If it were not so harmful to intellectual development, this utter garbage would be laughable. Among its crimes against intelligence,[8] postmodernism has made philosophy appear to be a waste of time. Mediocrity impoverishes everything.

[7] See Curtis White, The Middle Mind (2003) for further reading.

[8] Even the dullest Creationist is more respectable. At least regressive religious interpretations pretensions toward science are based on tradition. Brainless fools aren’t just found in church.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Physics and Philosophy - Thoughts on the Implications of Quantum Mechanics, and Other Matters #5i

5i. Hobbes stated that philosophy is “a knowledge of effects from causes, and causes from their effects.” A scientist attempts to observe the pattern of occurrences in his or her particular field of study, whereas a philosopher tries to observe the pattern of happenings as a whole.[6] Both approaches have merit. So why, in the modern era, do almost none attempt to do both? A specialist misses much, but is better paid (as opposed to not at all).

[6] As evidenced by the babbling of either a free market or Marxist ideologue. Determinism is determinism.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Physics and Philosophy - Thoughts on the Implications of Quantum Mechanics, and Other Matters #4

4. Science is a search for truth through facts. Philosophy is the search for truth through ideas. Those possessing neither facts nor ideas have no truth. The absence of truth is not necessarily a lie. The very young are innocent. Lies are not an unavoidable part of aging.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Monday, February 11, 2008

Physics and Philosophy - Thoughts on the Implications of Quantum Mechanics, and Other Matters #3

3. In the beginning of the human quest for reason, science and philosophy were indistinguishable. For want of a better term, this intertwining could be termed curiosity. As time went on, the abstract components of that curiosity evolved into philosophy and certain persuasions of mathematics. The more concrete elements grew into the various branches of science, engineering and the attendant mathematics. Currently, the sciences are demarcated into the broad categories of physical, biological and sociological sciences. In general, the older forks are more widely accepted. Mathematics is thought by many to be embedded in stone. Whereas sociology has found it necessary to develop the sub-field of demography to enjoy scientific legitimacy, and economics is often more akin to religious faith than science,[4] mathematics is thought to convey authority which often means better funding opportunities. Strangely, outside academia and teaching, mathematicians[5] have a difficult time finding work. Perhaps deep inquires are undesirable?

[4] As evidenced by the babbling of either a free market or Marxist ideologue. Determinism is determinism.

[5] Hence, “math, yes; math major, no.”

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Physics and Philosophy - Thoughts on the Implications of Quantum Mechanics, and Other Matters Section #2

2. Philosophy, having been developed to represent its contemporary reality, seems to often prove more hindrance than guide to scientific thought. Nevertheless, it can prove useful in demanding more rigor and a subsequent higher standard of proof. In addition, the subsequent new philosophy will serve the same (hopefully) healthy scepticism once its footings are threatened. Philosophy is a stage of life. Equally sightless, blind acceptance is no better than blind rejection. Too many idols last for too long. Their exposed hollowness must have meaning. The alternative is stagnation. Even rivers have islands.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Physics and Philosophy - Thoughts on the Implications of Quantum Mechanics, and Other Matters Section #1

This discourse is the author's draft introduction for an upcoming book project, entitled The Age of Mediocrity. (Postings will be more frequent than the previous few months; a review or two may be interjected between posts.)

1. The Twentieth Century brought about many revolutions. Broadly, the most fundamental are those changes regarding scientific insight. Although less publicly acknowledged,[1] of all those many scientific developments, the discoveries and insights that led to the formulation of the so-called Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, were among the most philosophically unsettling. Physics ceased to be, at least in principle, a deterministic science and became inherently uncertain. Of course, throughout history scientific revolutions have had ramifications beyond the intellectual and scientific domains preferred by scientists and philosophers alike. Although post-dating Aristarcus by about seventeen hundred years, Nicolaus Copernicus’ model of a heliocentric universe created much controversy, and even hostility as contrary to church doctrine, by suggesting that the Earth was not the center of the universe. However despite strong contrarian efforts, in part, its value at explaining and simplifying the seemingly complex movements of the planets led to its ultimate acceptance. Prediction is proof. Charles’ Darwin’s Origins of the Species is still not universally accepted. Too many hairless monkeys appear threatened by the idea that the multitude (if ever dwindling) of species seen upon the Earth did not always exist, but rather evolved over a period of time due to a process of natural selection. The idea of humanity as an accident has many penetrating and even threatening religious and philosophical implications. Evolution does not occur at the speed of light. As a contrast, in the case of Quantum Mechanics, its implications were generally accepted both less and more dramatically. In European scientific circles, even if world shaking, the debate was not nearly as hot as the two preceding examples. The interesting case of Albert Einstein will be discussed later.[2] However, the reactions against its political implications were harsher. Indeed, until the development of atomic weapons, the government of the Soviet Union suppressed the theory as something threatening to the Marxist dialectical materialism.[3] Ideology, not just religion, suppresses science.

[1] Perhaps quantum mechanics has less mass appeals because its history and development does not focus upon a single prominent scientist.

[2] See Timothy Ferris, Coming of Age in the Milky Way, for further reading.

[3] It’s hard to argue with the demonstrated reality of an atomic bomb in the hands of an opposing power. The USSR caught up rapidly.