I whole-heartedly believe a number of their “interpretations” in the paper are correct. However, I also find some of their thoughts extremely puzzling, in light of drawing certain interpretations to their logical conclusion, as one philosopher, Kant, has hundreds of years ago. I will give a little technical breakdown of the paper —just bear with me through the math/math-speak, which I only include for the sake of the clarity that my colleagues in the sciences would prefer—, and then discuss issues I see. Given that I have been, for a long time, working with another philosopher of physics on a scientifically-technical philosophical paper that forcefully argues some of the same points, I will not comment on those items I agree with, so as not to give anything away from unpublished work.
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.
Serendipity often leads to some of our most fruitful realizations, creative ideas, and understanding —and are even responsible for our most citation-worthy bits of supporting information. Such is the case to be discussed here. It so happened that, just after writing the blog in response to Neil deGrasse Tyson’s ignorant position on philosophy, I read Richard P. Feynman’s The Character of Physical Law to unwind. The Nobel laureate was always notoriously, even devilishly, anti-philosophy. Continue reading →
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 →
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 →
There was a very nice turnout at Duquesne University’s 7th Annual graduate conference in philosophy (themed “Nomos and Physis”). A big thanks goes to the Duquesne Department of philosophy and Matt Lovett for running such a well-organized event. The spread of papers presented was diverse array of subtopics: Phenomenology and Nature; Nature In Itself, Nature for Us; Nature in Ancient Philosophy; Contemporary Ontologies and Nature. The general sentiment around the room seemed to be that the questions, discussion, and commentary was productive. Probably the most fascinating element of the conference —I know not if it was by design or happenstance— was that the papers reflected holistic approaches to philosophical considerations pertaining to Nature. Continue reading →
I recently read an article by Jesus Mosterin, called “The Unity of Particle Physics and Cosmology?” (pg. 165-176 in The Problem of the Unity of Science edited by Agazzi and Faye). The article is very interesting, because it proposes something I hadn’t heard before, namely, that the Casimir effect might be the phenomenon that is the conceptual key to unifying quantum and cosmological scales. The idea is that vacuum energies associated with a cosmological constant, Λ, might be the cause of the effect (there are numerous interpretations); but there is/are a problem(s), which has been noted by Steven Weinberg, Alan Guth, and others. In particular, the one that immediately comes to the fore is the problematic nature of the consequences of a varying cosmological constant. (Keep in mind that the early universe seemed to have an enormous vacuum energy present, while, now, all we have is this rinky-dink Casimir effect of quantum mechanical origin.) Continue reading →
Kant had a pretty trippy and extremely fascinating view of time. (The Hstorical Dictionary of Kant and Kantianism says “innovative,” which I gladly grant.) For Kant, time is a “pure form of sensible intuition” (Critique of Pure Reason, N. K. Smith trans., 2003, pg. 75), and “[t]ime is nothing but the form of internal sense, that is, of the intuition of ourselves and of our inner senses. It cannot be a determination of outer appearances; it has to do neither with shape nor position, but with the relation of representations in our inner state” (ibid. pg. 77). Continue reading →
This is a paper I am preparing for a graduate conference at Duquesne, whose theme is “physis and nomos.” The paper is to be sent in on December 1, 2012, so any comments before then are especially welcome, but comments afterword are also welcome.
The intention of this post is plural: to illustrate how patently unqualified Lawrence M. Krauss is to make any kind of philosophical statement; to convince the reader of how bad his book, The Universe from Nothing: Why There is Something Rather Than Nothing, is; and to provide a moral about what happens when someone’s thought is so ideologically driven that the individual becomes set at all costs to demonstrate a particular result, even if it means affirming the consequent. Having now read the book, my opinion has changed of Krauss (see my related post), and I can say that I no longer have any sympathy for him. Perhaps the most interesting point about my take on the book is that I actually agree with what he is arguing for, so much so that I am preparing a paper for a graduate conference on just this topic: the universe from nothing. Therefore, it should be clear from the outset that there is certainly no clash in ultimate beliefs between us. Continue reading →