November 26th, 2012
In 1956 Hugh Everett III published his Ph.D. dissertation titled “The Theory of the Universal Wave Function.” In this paper Everett argued for the relative state formulation of quantum theory and a quantum philosophy, which denied wave collapse. (DOWNLOAD HERE)
Initially, this interpretation was highly criticized by the physics community and when Everett visited Niels Bohr in Copenhagen in 1959 Bohr was unimpressed with Everett’s most recent development. In 1957 Everett coined his theory as the Many Worlds Interpretation (MWI) of quantum mechanics. In an attempt to circumvent the problem of defining the mechanism for the state of collapse Everett suggested that all orthogonal relative states are equally valid ontologically. What this means is that all-possible states are true and exist simultaneously.
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October 15th, 2012
We’ve all probably heard of string theory. I’ve seen specials devoted to it on PBS, it in major science and philosophy books/papers, dialogues with skeptics, and even in [the greatest film of all time... ever] Good Will Hunting. It’s a very complex and confusing field of research. My hope is that my summation here will help give a introductory grasp of the material.
The spontaneous breakdown of symmetries in the early universe can produce linear discontinuities in fields, known as cosmic strings. Cosmic strings are also common in modern string theories in which the most fundamental reality are astronomically tiny vibrating strings (either closed or open depending on the interpretation of the mathematics). The combination of the string/scalar landscape with eternal inflation has in turn led to a markedly increased interest in anthropic reasoning. In this multiverse scenario life will evolve only in very rare regions where the local laws of physics just happen to have the properties needed for life, giving a simple explanation for why the observed universe appears to permit the evolutionary conditions for life.
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July 2nd, 2012
The Pre-Socratics were the first philosophers of science. They were known as the sophos (the wise ones). They were ecliplised by the British and German philosophers of science in the seventeenth century and were largely disconnected from science hence forth. Science sets the agenda, but philosophers bring philosophical reasons instead of scientific reasons. Science answers the questions. The Pre-Socratics were the first to deal with metaphysics and did so to provide a rational philosophy. This allowed for a rational and objective observation and the use of reason to systematize and order the content to make it coherent.
The Sophists were worldly-wise in contrast with the sophos–frustrated by the plurality of answers in the current philosophy. The Sophists were the original skeptics as evidenced in Pyrrho. They came out of the sixth century BC and broke away from religious dogma, which had never happened before. Their methods were pragmatic and subjective–rhetorical and fashionable. The phrase, “The One and the Many” became important. The One (reality) had everything related to it (Many). This is where we get Monism–the quality of oneness. We see Monism appear later in Leibniz’s monads, which take us to a single substance and leads to atomic theory.
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September 28th, 2011
How far can science take us and at what point does philosophy and metaphysics take over? Here is the general process of science and philosophy.
- METHOD. Science’s modus operandi is to observe the data while philosophy is examining the data and reasoning through it.
- MATERIAL. Science’s materials are facts. There are certain data that provide empirical fact to work with. Philosophy’s material are conceptual–concepts that are the basis for the rest of the process.
- PURPOSE. Science is descriptive. Empirical investigation can only observe what happens and the purpose of it is to describe the mechanism or process taking place. The purpose, in relation to philosophy, is to be able to construct an argument.
- GOAL. The goal of science is prediction. We will see this in the strength of a theory by principle of verification and falsification. The philosophical role is providing an explanation of the data. Explanation is philosophical and not scientific.
- OUTCOME. The end of science is the production of technology. The general history of science runs in the direction of greater efficiency in its function. Likewise, in the history of science, philosophy’s outcome is developing a worldview system. Consider the historical development of science with Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton. Copernicus changed the worldview system with the Copernican revolution as did Newton. I would actually argue that Newtonian physics may have made a greater philosophical impact than Copernicus in light of Kant (thanks Kant…).
- REASON. We’ve already touched on this briefly, but the reason for why one does science is for efficiency. The reason for philosophy is a search and understanding for meaning.