Category Archives: History of Physics

Distinguishing between Types of Science: Unmixing Metaphysics and Pragmatic Science

I get questions regularly about the bizarre nature of contemporary physics.  I am sure practicing physicists with PhDs get these more regularly than I, yet I occupy an interesting and rare position in the academic disciplinary landscape: I’ve studied science, particularly physics, into the graduate level, and I am actively developing my expertise in the history and philosophy of science, particularly physics, as well as being a lifelong student of more traditional philosophy (e.g., analytic, contemporary, and Eastern).  The question most regularly asked of late has been: What are physicists talking about with all of this “non-verifiable” theory; it sounds like philosophy?  By this, they mean the fact that there is this apparent post-empirical turn, and the lack of requirement of empirical data to substantiate proposed theory.  I’d like to spend some length explaining my thoughts on this, including a suggestion to all practicing scientists, regardless of discipline.

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Filed under Cosmology, Epistemology, History and Philosophy of Science, History of Physics, History of Science, Natural Philosophy, Philosophy, Philosophy of Physics, Philosophy of Science, Physics, Popular Science, Science

Teleology and Immaterial Substance after the Physico-Chemical Turn in the Life Sciences

I am posting a paper (click here) I have been playing with for a little while.  I generally don’t post anything that I might publish, but, with some added input and further vision in formulating it, I may be able to turn this into something worth publishing.  The essence of the paper is on vitalism and how teleology has not been stripped out of the original nascent formation (i.e., romantische Naturphilosophie) of the biological discipline.  The paper grew out of my reading of Timothy Lenoir’s The Strategy of Life: Teleology and Mechanics in nineteenth-Century German Biology. Continue reading

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Filed under History and Philosophy of Science, History of Physics, History of Science, Natural Philosophy, Philosophy, Philosophy of Physics, Philosophy of Science, Physics

Einstein at Leyden (1920): Making Sense of His Reversion to Ether

Einstein is often touted as the physicist to annihilate the idea of the ether.  This is peculiar, because it is as though the world stopped listening to his opinion on the matter prior to his reflections on general relativity (GR).  Einstein never got too excited about proclaiming that an ether, after the conception of GR, is necessary; but he did, nonetheless, make clear arguments, the details, philosophical and historical, I will try to fill in —if only even a few of them.  Continue reading

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Filed under History of Physics, History of Science, Philosophy, Philosophy of Physics, Philosophy of Science, Physics