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Mathematical physics, natural science, and philosophy of science

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#26 goodricke1

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Posted 11 January 2020 - 06:15 PM

"the phenomena of the physical world collectively, including plants, animals, the landscape, and other features and products of the earth, as opposed to humans or human creations"

 

How is science silent on nature? Science describes much of nature.

 

Philosophical discussions are just that Philosophical.  Conjoining Philosophy and Science is not very malleable, and to me should be avoided.

 

But what describes science? Does science describe itself? Where does science come from? These seem like reasonable questions to me. Whether we use the word science, or philosophy, or essence, they are all just words, words invented by humans. Which can also be applied to the word 'question' of course. And every word gets its context from its implied relationship with other words - the philosophical view known as nominalism.



#27 Jim_V

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Posted 11 January 2020 - 07:16 PM

But what describes science? Does science describe itself? Where does science come from? These seem like reasonable questions to me. Whether we use the word science, or philosophy, or essence, they are all just words, words invented by humans. Which can also be applied to the word 'question' of course. And every word gets its context from its implied relationship with other words - the philosophical view known as nominalism.

It is the modern meaning behind the word. As well as the development of the language. Words are not static, meanings are not static languages are not static. Words are invented to describe something ( look to Shakespeare), but once invented, and added into the lexicon, meanings of words can change, even n how they are used in modern language.

 

The word "Science" does have a modern meaning, so to does the word Philosophy in the modern context. Both words are very broad based, and may be used to encompass many subjects, but I cannot see where there is any confusion on either of the words meanings.



#28 llanitedave

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Posted 11 January 2020 - 08:00 PM

Otto, this 'essence' stuff is hundreds of years out of date.

I think this is key to the whole discussion.

 

 

And why there is really so little to discuss.


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#29 EJN

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Posted 11 January 2020 - 08:19 PM

Words are not static, meanings are not static languages are not static. Words are invented to describe something ( look to Shakespeare), but once invented, and added into the lexicon, meanings of words can change, even how they are used in modern language.

 
"Gay" means something radically different than what it meant 100 years ago.

#30 Jim_V

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Posted 11 January 2020 - 08:51 PM

 
"Gay" means something radically different than what it meant 100 years ago.

I had a whole list, such as Gay, or Fag or even Cool, etc. Not to mentions words that have dropped from the regular lexicon such as Uhtceare and Expergefactor, or one of my favorites Vomitorium.


Edited by Jim_V, 11 January 2020 - 08:52 PM.

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#31 mountain monk

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Posted 11 January 2020 - 09:01 PM

Mathematical physics is the language of nature. English, Chinese, etc., are translations of mathematical physics and like all translations into different languages are inexact and often confusing. Best stick to the equations. Does "essence" appear in any equation (or line of symbols) anyone is aware of? If not, then...

 

Dark skies

 

Jack


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#32 EJN

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Posted 11 January 2020 - 09:44 PM

Almost forgot about this one:

 

purity.png


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#33 mountain monk

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Posted 11 January 2020 - 09:46 PM

A story:

 

When I was an undergraduate I took an honors course entitled Modern Physics for Non-physicists taught by George Gamow--yes, I'm that old. He mainly told wonderful stories about his life, his work, and his various famous acquaintances. Invariably, it got technical, let's say about relativity. He would try to explain, we would look blank. He would rush to the blackboard and draw pictures to help explain his point (you can see some of them in his various books), we would look blank. Frustrated, he would begin to write equations, trying, I suppose, to find hints for pictures or prose. He would become quite lost in his equations...and we remained beyond lost. 

 

"Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darĂ¼ber muss man shweigen." Ludwig the Great

 

Dark skies.

 

Jack


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#34 DaveC2042

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Posted 11 January 2020 - 10:08 PM

A story:

When I was an undergraduate I took an honors course entitled Modern Physics for Non-physicists taught by George Gamow--yes, I'm that old. He mainly told wonderful stories about his life, his work, and his various famous acquaintances. Invariably, it got technical, let's say about relativity. He would try to explain, we would look blank. He would rush to the blackboard and draw pictures to help explain his point (you can see some of them in his various books), we would look blank. Frustrated, he would begin to write equations, trying, I suppose, to find hints for pictures or prose. He would become quite lost in his equations...and we remained beyond lost.

"Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darĂ¼ber muss man shweigen." Ludwig the Great

Dark skies.

Jack


Explaining mathematical science to a lay audience is very difficult, and a very different skill set to actually doing the maths.

There are people who have both, but not a lot of them in my experience.

I'm pretty good at the explaining, which has made for a pretty good career in finance. But I've always been a decidedly second-rate mathematician.
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#35 Jim_V

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Posted 11 January 2020 - 10:42 PM

Explaining mathematical science to a lay audience is very difficult, and a very different skill set to actually doing the maths.

There are people who have both, but not a lot of them in my experience.

I'm pretty good at the explaining, which has made for a pretty good career in finance. But I've always been a decidedly second-rate mathematician.

When I was in college for my Electronics degree  Physics was part of the curriculum the professor had a unique ability to do both, explain, yet show the Math. While the course curriculum didn't approach any where near Relativity theory etc. Myself and a few others often spent time after his class, discussing just that.   Which happened a lot due to the class's positions on our course schedule.

 

He liked to use rail grain cars, as illustrations ( following Einstein I presume). Such as, if you are in a rail car with the door closed, traveling at the speed of light, parallel to a beam of light, if you open the rail car door, what should you expect to see? What would an observe see watching the train and the light beam. If the beam of light is turned on, or off.That sort of stuff, then of course if time would permit, he would begin the math to prove, or disprove our answers.

 

I don't pretend to understand the math proofs that well then, or now, but even with rudimentary Trigonometry math skills one can learn and appreciate relativity and special relativity.

 

I do attribute that course to leading me on to self learning as much as could then, and still try and do this very day.


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#36 llanitedave

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Posted 12 January 2020 - 01:18 AM

Almost forgot about this one:

 

purity.png

None of that compares to the purity of geology:

 

https://pbs.twimg.co...LMZCUAAYBSt.jpg

 

BP8rLMZCUAAYBSt.jpg


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#37 MikiSJ

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Posted 12 January 2020 - 01:51 AM

Nature doesn't care about our math. She does her own thing and we just try and keep up. 

I think that is what Niels Bohr was saying in the post made by EJN.

 

 

 
It is wrong to think that the task of physics is to find out how nature is. Physics concerns what we can say about Nature.


Edited by MikiSJ, 12 January 2020 - 01:53 AM.


#38 Mister T

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Posted 12 January 2020 - 08:14 AM

Otto, this 'essence' stuff is hundreds of years out of date.

Don't get him started on 'phlogiston'...



#39 DaveC2042

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Posted 12 January 2020 - 04:10 PM

At the risk of veering off science and into philosophy, I thought it would be worthwhile to set out clearly what I feel the underlying problem with these kinds of discussion is.

I think there is a 3-stage thought process at play.

1. There is the observation that science fails to answer some questions or answers them imperfectly. This observation is entirely correct, and is not news to scientists. Firstly, science has a scope. It can't answer questions of music theory, or literary analysis, or morality, beyond sometimes contributing background facts. Secondly, science acknowledges that we experience reality intermediated by observation, and so science cannot answer questions about what is 'really' going on. Newton explicitly acknowledged this centuries ago.

2. The conclusion is drawn that this means there is something wrong with science. This is getting dodgy. To the scope point, would we say there is something wrong with music theory because it fails to explain economics? To the reality point, this is a difficulty inherent to reality itself, not a problem with science.

3. Having concluded there is something wrong with science, we then assert that our particular philosophy (generally construed) can answer such questions perfectly (if we only put in enough effort) and is therefore superior to science. Now we are completely off the rails. The game now is to parade imponderable questions, and claim that science's failure to answer them is a genuine failure, but philosophy's failure to answer them merely indicates work in progress. I find this highly disingenuous.
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#40 jdk

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Posted 12 January 2020 - 04:51 PM

At the risk of veering off science and into philosophy, I thought it would be worthwhile to set out clearly what I feel the underlying problem with these kinds of discussion is.

I think there is a 3-stage thought process at play.

1. There is the observation that science fails to answer some questions or answers them imperfectly. This observation is entirely correct, and is not news to scientists. Firstly, science has a scope. It can't answer questions of music theory, or literary analysis, or morality, beyond sometimes contributing background facts. Secondly, science acknowledges that we experience reality intermediated by observation, and so science cannot answer questions about what is 'really' going on. Newton explicitly acknowledged this centuries ago.

2. The conclusion is drawn that this means there is something wrong with science. This is getting dodgy. To the scope point, would we say there is something wrong with music theory because it fails to explain economics? To the reality point, this is a difficulty inherent to reality itself, not a problem with science.

3. Having concluded there is something wrong with science, we then assert that our particular philosophy (generally construed) can answer such questions perfectly (if we only put in enough effort) and is therefore superior to science. Now we are completely off the rails. The game now is to parade imponderable questions, and claim that science's failure to answer them is a genuine failure, but philosophy's failure to answer them merely indicates work in progress. I find this highly disingenuous.

That's pretty much it, even if I don't entirely agree with some of the technical bits of the underlying syllogism you've constructed. The enterprise of natural law as a philosophy is entirely dependent on things having "natures" or "essences" or whatever, and since science is not able to give us any of that, it then justifies some excursion into finding other rubrics (religious, cultural, economic, etc) for evaluating observed behavior. 

 

And since it's pretty much impossible to change anyone's mind about things at this level of analysis...these discussions persist... tongue2.gif



#41 MikiSJ

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Posted 12 January 2020 - 05:02 PM

And since it's pretty much impossible to change anyone's mind about things at this level of analysis...these discussions persist... tongue2.gif

Science deals with opinions developed using falsifiable information. Beliefs, on the other hand, does not need falsifiable information - it simply needs information from any source to be used to make a belief.

 

No one can develop an honest opinion in a god as there is no falsifiable information to support an opinion. No one can challenge a belief in a god for the same reason.



#42 Otto Piechowski

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Posted 13 January 2020 - 02:47 PM

The closing sentence of the quote found in the opening post was "...difficult problems of interpretation are increasingly becoming the domain of the philosopher of science."

 

It seems to me that some, perhaps many, of the comments made so far in this thread have been philosophical comments.  Does it seem that way to you as well; or no?

 

Otto



#43 llanitedave

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 03:13 PM

The closing sentence of the quote found in the opening post was "...difficult problems of interpretation are increasingly becoming the domain of the philosopher of science."

 

It seems to me that some, perhaps many, of the comments made so far in this thread have been philosophical comments.  Does it seem that way to you as well; or no?

 

Otto

Well, we're talking about the meaning of science.  Can't get more philosophical than that, can you?



#44 B l a k S t a r

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 04:38 PM

Well, we're talking about the meaning of science.  Can't get more philosophical than that, can you?

If I may stick my toe in here, science is not a thing, it's a way of understanding nature. Way I see it. 


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#45 llanitedave

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 07:23 PM

If I may stick my toe in here, science is not a thing, it's a way of understanding nature. Way I see it. 

That's kind of a philosophical point of view, don't you think?


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#46 B l a k S t a r

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 08:02 PM

That's kind of a philosophical point of view, don't you think?

 

Refining then, I'd say science is a methodology to understanding nature.  I'm not sure I could begin to describe or even define what philosophy is.  I may be in the wrong room though, based on the waxing eloquent frequently on display. 



#47 DaveC2042

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 08:31 PM

Refining then, I'd say science is a methodology to understanding nature.  I'm not sure I could begin to describe or even define what philosophy is.  I may be in the wrong room though, based on the waxing eloquent frequently on display. 

Wikipedia's definition is pretty good.

 

Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental questions about existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language.

 

To which, I'd add that there should be intellectual rigor involved, or it's just rambling.

 

I'd agree that much of this thread is in the rambling bucket.



#48 jdk

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 10:49 PM

I'd agree that much of this thread is in the rambling bucket.

bro that's why we here

 

lol.gif


Edited by jdk, 14 January 2020 - 10:55 PM.

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#49 Mister T

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 06:00 AM

That's kind of a philosophical point of view, don't you think?

philosophy is the science of understanding our beliefs.confused1.gif


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#50 llanitedave

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 10:10 AM

philosophy is the science of understanding our beliefs.confused1.gif

Heh, I thought it was the belief of understanding science!




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