Philosophy and Science

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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby Serpent on December 28th, 2016, 1:29 am 

BadgerJelly » December 27th, 2016, 11:31 pm wrote:Serpent -

Don't promise, just promise to try please :) If you think something is unclear then before you assume anything more ask for clarity. That would help me a great deal.

When I don't understand, I say so. When it seems clear, I respond to what it seems to mean.

I guess the best and simpliest way I can put it is that the theoretical attitude is only concerned with theory wholly detached from the practical life-world. The thematic of theory becomes an interest within itself rather than as taken on as a technique directed at practical matters.

Well, that's fine. But this attitude and approach must be the property of a very small part of the population of any age - a few guys who can afford to inhabit ivory towers. To what extent do you think they influence or define the culture in which they don't participate? I imagine the influence of scholars depends very much on the attitude of the ruling class. When princes and bankers are curious, science makes great strides. When bishops and kings are conservative, it's stifled. Most of the people are not affected either way - but the next generation might be.

Also, beign illiterate in a literate world is not a fair comparison to being illiterate in an illiterate world. Do you see why?

I merely used that example to illustrate that the members of a society are not all imbued with the same capability or interests or opportunities or attainments. Plucking a random specimen out of 12,000 BC or 2016 AD, might have an equal chance of yielding an artist, a philosopher, a fisherman, a gambler, a criminal or a dunce. What I object to is a blanket characterization of whole ages or nations of people as thinking in certain ways or having certain attributes.

Also, "prescientific" is not a reference to modern scientific method in the way I have been expressing it.

Well, I asked, but you never clarified what you mean by modern science, or 'science in the modern sense'
I said, a few posts back, that "science" is inclusive of chemistry, biology, psychology, philosophy, etc.,.

And I would definitely exclude philosophy and put psychiatry on the soft outer edge. But you did exclude tool-making, even though all our modern tools are the fruits of scientific research.

So, no I am most definitively not saying prescientific man waa incapable of reason of problem solving. Neither would I say they were incapable of learning to read and write or do anything that you or I or anyone else today can do (that is my assumption amd I even said what could possibily contradict such as assumption).

So, then, what sets him apart from science-era man? I've been saying there is no big, sudden change in the nature or thinking ability of humans. What's on the post side of pre-science?

What I meant by groups of people sitting around was that if in lesuire time someone decided to invent writing and take such a task and no one paid any interest then it would fail to survive. If we had a community of people all possessing a theoretical attitude (non-practical) then a they would begin to lay down the ground for a scientific attitude.

By making a list of sacks of barley? Before writing, the storehouse foreman made hash-marks on the wall as the barley was carried in. Then a very bright foreman makes the marks in a damp clay tablet and impresses a pattern of barley ears next to them. Then some other guy says, Hey, cool! and impresses a fish shape next to the number of dried cod being hung up in the loft.
Nobody decides to invent writing - it's a gradual, collaborative, cumulative effort. Nothing to do with Science or theory: all about practical application; efficient resource allocation.

What happened in ancient Greece happened around the globe at about the same time, but the extent of theoretical use was not the same elsewhere due to various political factors. What seems to have propelled Greek thought forwards is how it was institutionalised by large and differing bodies of thought all taking on a theoretical attitude (an interest in the theory for theories sake not for a direct practical use - meaning doing math for the sake of doing math not with an intentiom of putting it to practical worldly use).

Cloistered scholarship. We covered this early on. What I'm contesting is that it makes any significant difference to the development of civilization. Civilization had already happened: it's what created the conditions for a class with the leisure and physical security to indulge itself in this way. (By using the labour of a far more numerous class - or three - that would never have a chance at such institutions or leisure.)
One of the significant things that happens here is that you quite severely diminish the pool of intellectual productivity. But it's soon made up for by a population explosion: lots of surplus people.

The point beinf when I talk about "prescientific man" I am not assuming no singular person could take up a theoretcial attitude. What I am.saying is that if their attitude was not communalised enough it would gain no social purchase and fall away.

Unless it resulted in a technological advancement, or other advantage to the community. When it did, that community was far more likely to survive than one that didn't contain a scientific thinker.

Writing would ssem to be an obvious hurdle to bridge this gap an literacy and exchnage of thoughts on a larger communal level would also suggets this (not to mention in regard to linguistics and semantics how this would allow people to more directly, and literally, view language itself apart from is daiky usage and as a subject matter unto itself, as a theoretcical pursuit).

It would - eventually. But for the first 5000 years, it was limited to a quite small segment of any population and didn't come anywhere close to including the whole nation, let alone the whole species. It still doesn't.
What it did do was preserve knowledge for later people to build on. The other important thing it did was liberate a lot of brain-capacity: you no longer had to memorize all the pre-existing facts of your subject, which left you free to think new thoughts. That's the biggie.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby wolfhnd on December 28th, 2016, 1:57 am 

Brain power is not limited to the individual but is a collective enterprise. The brain evolved because of culture not the other way around which bring into question the vary idea of native intelligence.

No one ever invented anything more complicated than a stick to dig out termites that wasn't a collective effort. The fact that so many people do not appreciate the contributions made by the people that have gone before them is disturbing in the same way people do not appreciate that they would starve if it were not for the work preformed by what Hillary Clinton labeled as the deplorables. The labor of all people contribute to the advancement of society often despite their undesirable philosophies. Philosophies produce ideologies and ideologies produce ideologues. If chaos and order are out of balance then philosophers can try to bring order to the chaos scientist may create but the world does not need more ideologies.

It seems to me that there is a dissociative mental illness that revolves around the idea that we are individuals not colonies of individual cells competing with each other that can only live effective in colonies of individual organisms with competing ideas. That does not mean that we should not compete because we are collective creatures or that equality is a worthy goal it just means we should all make ourselves as useful as possible and stop creating artificial categories of people and ideas. Philosophy and science would smell as sweet by any other name.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby BadgerJelly on December 28th, 2016, 2:11 am 

Serpent -

I have to ask. Are you trying to purposefully argue with every point I make rather than trying to understand it in some way? Am I really that bad at expressing myself? :(

I don't think I can be bothered to continue if you persist it making remarks about how you assume I think writing began from an analogy I tried to use to express what you simply either refuse or fail to understand. I am only concerned if you understand the basis of what I am saying not if you agree with it or not. If you understand it generally then offer argumentation. It appears you are arguing more and more against things that I either have not said (making assumptions) or have little to no connection to what I am talking about.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby TLK on December 28th, 2016, 8:47 am 

An interesting place to look for notions about the relationship between philosophy and science might be to see what philosophers of science have to say. Wikipedia articles tend to be very uneven in quality but I think the article in Wikipedia on "Philosophy of science" is pretty good:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_science

Here are some excerpts:

"Philosophy of science is a branch of philosophy concerned with the foundations, methods, and implications of science. The central questions of this study concern what qualifies as science, the reliability of scientific theories, and the ultimate purpose of science. This discipline overlaps with metaphysics, ontology, and epistemology, for example, when it explores the relationship between science and truth.

There is no consensus among philosophers about many of the central problems concerned with the philosophy of science, including whether science can reveal the truth about unobservable things and whether scientific reasoning can be justified at all. In addition to these general questions about science as a whole, philosophers of science consider problems that apply to particular sciences (such as biology or physics). Some philosophers of science also use contemporary results in science to reach conclusions about philosophy itself."


"Defining science
Main article: Demarcation problem

Distinguishing between science and non-science is referred to as the demarcation problem. For example, should psychoanalysis be considered science? How about so-called creation science, the inflationary multiverse hypothesis, or macroeconomics? Karl Popper called this the central question in the philosophy of science.[2] However, no unified account of the problem has won acceptance among philosophers, and some regard the problem as unsolvable or uninteresting.[3][4] Martin Gardner has argued for the use of a Potter Stewart standard ("I know it when I see it") for recognizing pseudoscience.[5]"


"Scientific explanation
Main article: Scientific explanation

A closely related question is what counts as a good scientific explanation. In addition to providing predictions about future events, society often takes scientific theories to provide explanations for events that occur regularly or have already occurred. Philosophers have investigated the criteria by which a scientific theory can be said to have successfully explained a phenomenon, as well as what it means to say a scientific theory has explanatory power.

One early and influential theory of scientific explanation is the deductive-nomological model. It says that a successful scientific explanation must deduce the occurrence of the phenomena in question from a scientific law.[10] This view has been subjected to substantial criticism, resulting in several widely acknowledged counterexamples to the theory.[11] It is especially challenging to characterize what is meant by an explanation when the thing to be explained cannot be deduced from any law because it is a matter of chance, or otherwise cannot be perfectly predicted from what is known. Wesley Salmon developed a model in which a good scientific explanation must be statistically relevant to the outcome to be explained.[12][13] Others have argued that the key to a good explanation is unifying disparate phenomena or providing a causal mechanism.[13]"


"The purpose of science
See also: Scientific realism and Instrumentalism

Should science aim to determine ultimate truth, or are there questions that science cannot answer? Scientific realists claim that science aims at truth and that one ought to regard scientific theories as true, approximately true, or likely true. Conversely, scientific anti-realists argue that science does not aim (or at least does not succeed) at truth, especially truth about unobservables like electrons or other universes.[17] Instrumentalists argue that scientific theories should only be evaluated on whether they are useful. In their view, whether theories are true or not is beside the point, because the purpose of science is to make predictions and enable effective technology.

Realists often point to the success of recent scientific theories as evidence for the truth (or near truth) of current theories.[18][19] Antirealists point to either the many false theories in the history of science,[20][21] epistemic morals,[22] the success of false modeling assumptions,[23] or widely termed postmodern criticisms of objectivity as evidence against scientific realism.[18] Antirealists attempt to explain the success of scientific theories without reference to truth.[24] Some antirealists claim that scientific theories aim at being accurate only about observable objects and argue that their success is primarily judged by that criterion.[22]"


There are many links to other good articles. Here's one:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wesley_C._Salmon

"Causal mechanism
As conventionally conceived by philosophers of science, scientific explanation of a phenomenon was simply epistemic (concerning knowledge), and centered on the phenomenon's counterfactual[18] derivability from initial conditions plus natural laws (Hempel's covering law model).[19] Yet Salmon found causality ubiquitous in scientific explanation,[20] which identifies not only natural laws (empirical regularities), but accounts for them via nature's structure and thereby involves the ontic (concerning reality),[19] how the phenomenon "fits into the causal nexus" of the world (Salmon's causal/mechanical explanation).[7] For instance, Boyle's law relates temperature, pressure, and volume of an ideal gas (epistemic), but this was later reduced to laws of statistical mechanics via average kinetic energy of colliding molecules composing the gas (ontic).[7] Thus, Salmon finds scientific explanation to be not merely nomological—that is, lawlike—but rather ontological, or causal/mechanical.[7] Though asserting the primacy of causal/mechanical explanation, Salmon was vague as to how scientists can attain it.[1] Still, consensus among philosophers of science is that causation is central in scientific explanation."
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby Forest_Dump on December 28th, 2016, 9:09 am 

I would have to admit that at the moment I am not as focused on this as I would like to be but also that after a lot of years of reading and thinking about what science is, I am still not solidly happy with any definition of science (and please bear in mind that when I started off in archaeology, philosophy of science was a HUGE topic and that followed many years of dealing with creationsim due to my personal religious background). But I will try to address a couple of points.

Serpent wrote:I have two problems with this. The second is the rest of the sentence, and that its contents were in the same sentence to begin with.


Not sure I get this.

Serpent wrote:If it's not a mental tool-box, what is it?


More accurate would be that I don't think science is SOLELY the application of techniques. If science is solely or only or even primarily about the application of techniques (i.e., systematic observation, logic, forming and testing of hypotheses, etc.) then a lot of topics would be included as science including Creationsim and ID. Now I admit to some personal bias here (I don't think these and others should be included) but do want to understand that myself because maybe I am wrong here - I would try to hold it open that Biblical (Young Earth, etc.) Creationism could be included in science (with the further implication that it be taught in schools as such). However, what would be closer to a working definition of science would exclude these topics if the definition was more than technique but a consideration of the subject matter i.e., what is being investigated by ITS very definition is beyond what could be included in science.

Let me try to clarify with an analogy. I describe what I do as being an archaeologist but I also am aware of weaknesses there. First, many including people from Foucault to the late Carrie Fisher have used the term inappropriately IMHO as purely a mental process. But "archaeology" is also a set of techniques that can and has been applied to numerous other disciplines (variably successfully but I would have to say perhaps all legitimately) including studies of modern garbage and landfills, palaeontology, history and the history of art (the latter probably the classical origins of archaeology) as well as what I do which is more along the lines of anthropology, itself having undergone tremendous change in definition in the last few decades both because 1) the subject matter has changed due to the impacts of globalization (there are no "pristine" peoples left to study - although again I have issues there) and 2) due to critiques about what anthropology was in the first place, i.e., anthropology and ethnography/ethnology as the handmaiden of colonialism and/or as the handmaiden or Marxist or other resistance (barefoot ethnography). So, with tons of room for sometimes uncomfortable debate, I prefer the more clumsy term "archaeological anthropologist" to describe what I do and know that sometimes I will also have to add on a few more adjectives as needed.

Back to "science", if it too is just a description of technique, then "science" does indeed become very broad and inclusive. If we are to argue that animals (or ancient Greeks) do science then I do not see how we would be able to exclude Creationists and IDers, ghost hunters or UFO hunters, or even employees of tobacco companies, big oil, etc. Where and how do you draw the line? Or do you? We do know that many Christians and advocates of other religions would li8ke to include their faiths in public school education (where I live there is more pressure for and acceptance of "Native" science which I am not comfortable with). Is that acceptable?

Serpent wrote:My definition of science actually makes it explicitely a "western" invention of probably the 19th century.
Why? Because the Chinese pottery glaze and silk and dynamite are too technological to qualify?


Actually, knowing something of the history here, specifically regarding the incorporation of mystic rituals in the preparation, etc., it would not take much to make these a case study for why these should NOT be included within science even though there is definitely plenty of good reasons to include them within histories of engineering and/or technology. In other words, while there was certainly successful development of technology referred to here, in my definition, etc., BECAUSE the mystical elements were not isolated and removed from the thought process, it would not count as being within my definition of science and that would make it a more interesting line of argument for me.

Serpent wrote:What, then, happens to Webseter's knowledge acquired by careful observation, by deduction of laws which govern changes and conditions, and by testing these deductions by experiment; a branch of study, esp. one concerned with facts, principles and methods?
Why are Volta and Kepler disqualified?


I will note that I immediately cringed at both the terms "deduction" and "laws". I am not a positivist nor do I believe in the nomothetical deinition of science - I am far too agnostic to believe in laws (which imply law makers, universal application which I think is far, far beyond our limits of knowledge, etc.).

And I had wondered about my own temporal limits about when "real" science emerged (my own uncertainty goes back to the question of Galileo, etc.) but, as with how I superficially addressed your point about Chinese technology, the at least recognition of cultural/ideological influences and then the attempt to acknowledge and step outside them (and thus at least try to gain a truly objective perspective) is what led me to lean towards a much more recent origin of science.

As a P.S., I think there is also much value to be had in looking at when and why boxing, the "sweet science" was originally included in science (and that has a literal truth) but when and why the definition of science changed to leave boxing out (but I think move chemistry in - can't remember all the details here).
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby TLK on December 28th, 2016, 9:25 am 

It seems intuitive that scientific explanations ought to include causal explanations, but with some reflection on the matter, it isn't as clear as it seems:

https://aeon.co/essays/could-we-explain ... and-effect

[excerpt]

"The 20th-century English philosopher Bertrand Russell concluded from these considerations that, since cause and effect play no fundamental role in physics, they should be removed from the philosophical vocabulary altogether. ‘The law of causality,’ he said with a flourish, ‘like much that passes muster among philosophers, is a relic of a bygone age, surviving, like the monarchy, only because it is erroneously supposed not to do harm.’

Neo-Russellians in the 21st century express their rejection of causes with no less rhetorical vigour. The philosopher of science John Earman of the University of Pittsburgh maintains that the wooliness of causal notions makes them inappropriate for physics: ‘A putative fundamental law of physics must be stated as a mathematical relation without the use of escape clauses or words that require a PhD in philosophy to apply (and two other PhDs to referee the application, and a third referee to break the tie of the inevitable disagreement of the first two).’

This is all very puzzling. Is it OK to think in terms of causes or not? If so, why, given the apparent hostility to causes in the underlying laws? And if not, why does it seem to work so well?"
[The author then goes on to express his analysis of those questions.]


Here is an interesting wrinkle on the issue of causal explanations in science:

http://phys.org/news/2012-10-quantum-causal.html

[excerpt]

"One of the most deeply rooted concepts in science and in our everyday life is causality; the idea that events in the present are caused by events in the past and, in turn, act as causes for what happens in the future. If an event A is a cause of an effect B, then B cannot be a cause of A. Now theoretical physicists from the University of Vienna and the Université Libre de Bruxelles have shown that in quantum mechanics it is possible to conceive situations in which a single event can be both, a cause and an effect of another one. The findings will be published this week in Nature Communications.

Although it is still not known if such situations can be actually found in nature, the sheer possibility that they could exist may have far-reaching implications for the foundations of quantum mechanics, quantum gravity and quantum computing."
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby Forest_Dump on December 28th, 2016, 10:38 am 

TLK wrote:This is all very puzzling. Is it OK to think in terms of causes or not? If so, why, given the apparent hostility to causes in the underlying laws? And if not, why does it seem to work so well?"


Definitely an interesting and important question, IMHO, and one that goes to the heart of some of my questions. First, I think exploring causality calls into question whether scientists are actually doing the science in that if causality is not being explored, are scientists merely thinking about spurious correlations? In this thread, I think we would be able to explore and define a difference between kinds of causal connections that distinguish between (IMHO) "real" sciences like in chemistry, physics or (some) medicine vs. (IMHO) "bogus" science like Creationism or ID (etc.). While important, I am still not convinced this is sufficient either.

Second, I think we also need to look at the state of physics through time (i.e., since Russel) to get further into the value of some of this. It may well be that physics at the time was not able to explicitely get into causality due to the state of technological requirements, social and political demands for alternate goals, etc., and these limitations are not the same as what is going on now (I look hopefully at what might be coming out of the CERN, etc., experiments here). And this, of course, brings to mind what Kuhn, for example, was talking about with the dichotomy of the puzzle solving of "normal" science vs. what happens with paradigm shifts. I do not talk it as gospel, for example, (and the play on words is deliberate and intentionally provocational) that all physics and even physics research, is necessarily "real" science and a lot of it might be better described as engineering or technology development (plus a lot of mystical quackery) rather than pure science in my clumsy definitions of the terms.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby TLK on December 28th, 2016, 10:51 am 

Forest_Dump » Wed Dec 28, 2016 6:09 am wrote:
Serpent wrote:What, then, happens to Webseter's knowledge acquired by careful observation, by deduction of laws which govern changes and conditions, and by testing these deductions by experiment; a branch of study, esp. one concerned with facts, principles and methods?
Why are Volta and Kepler disqualified?


I will note that I immediately cringed at both the terms "deduction" and "laws". I am not a positivist nor do I believe in the nomothetical deinition of science - I am far too agnostic to believe in laws (which imply law makers, universal application which I think is far, far beyond our limits of knowledge, etc.).




I'm not sure why you think that using the term "scientific law" implies that there must be law makers. Dictionary.com defines "scientific law" as: "a phenomenon of nature that has been proven to invariably occur whenever certain conditions exist or are met; also, a formal statement about such a phenomenon..." That is, scientific laws are statements (often in the form of equations) of regular patterns in the things we observe. It is possible that a law maker made those patterns, but I don't see that the term "law" necessarily implies that the regular patterns are made by a law maker.

But I agree with you that deriving scientific laws doesn't seem to be a deductive process. I think the derivation of scientific laws is actually inductive:

http://www.livescience.com/21569-deduct ... ction.html

"Deductive reasoning is a basic form of valid reasoning. Deductive reasoning, or deduction, starts out with a general statement, or hypothesis, and examines the possibilities to reach a specific, logical conclusion, according to the University of California. The scientific method uses deduction to test hypotheses and theories. "In deductive inference, we hold a theory and based on it we make a prediction of its consequences. That is, we predict what the observations should be if the theory were correct. We go from the general — the theory — to the specific — the observations," said Dr. Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, a researcher and professor emerita at Albert Einstein College of Medicine."

"'In inductive inference, we go from the specific to the general. We make many observations, discern a pattern, make a generalization, and infer an explanation or a theory [or law*],' Wassertheil-Smoller told Live Science."

*I added "or law", but I'm sure it fits with what Wassertheil-Smoller said.

I think scientific laws are inductively derived because we examine many specific examples of observations of a particular kind of phenomenon and generalize a pattern from those multiple specific observations.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby Forest_Dump on December 28th, 2016, 10:53 am 

wolfhnd wrote:Honestly creationist are no more irrational to me than Marxist, they look at the evidence and find a million reasons why the evidence doesn't support their theory. They then concoct and alternative reality to support their theory. We all do this a thousand time a day it's called cognitive dissonance. It happens to scientists every day.


In fact, I am not a priori sure Creationists are necessarily any less rational than the besy scientists. Following from my earlier posts, I think one (but only one) important point is that I am definitely not sure we ever objecively select data to study because we only select data or observations that we find some interest or value in and therefore it follows that anything and everything in science becomes culturally subjective which is why I do confine science to be a recent western invention. I am actually happy with minimizing science as being a way of my people (however that would or should be defined) but then immediately/simultaneously reify it as a way of MY people (while trying to not disrespect other cultural traditions. Including Creationists and other toxic exploiters of religion? political ideology? How is all that for PC gyrations?)
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby Forest_Dump on December 28th, 2016, 11:41 am 

TLK wrote:But I agree with you that deriving scientific laws doesn't seem to be a deductive process. I think the derivation of scientific laws is actually inductive:


Before getting into "laws" I will put into my own words how one philosopher of science I liked (Alexander Bird in his book on the Philosophy of Science) defned deduction vs. induction - if and when we ever have to go out into the world and make observations or perform experiments, etc., then it is not deduction but induction.

TLK wrote:I'm not sure why you think that using the term "scientific law" implies that there must be law makers. Dictionary.com defines "scientific law" as: "a phenomenon of nature that has been proven to invariably occur whenever certain conditions exist or are met; also, a formal statement about such a phenomenon..." That is, scientific laws are statements (often in the form of equations) of regular patterns in the things we observe. It is possible that a law maker made those patterns, but I don't see that the term "law" necessarily implies that the regular patterns are made by a law maker.


There is a big fuzzy exploding can of worms here which is why I don't like the terms "laws". First, I do know that when Comte introduced the term he did very much mean there was a law giver and law enforcer. But further, the very idea of laws themselves are specific to a kind of culture (state-level) and are therefore dependent upon a degree of linguistic determinism as well as political/religious ideology. The very notion or idea of "laws" then, is not and therefore cannot be universal.

But then we also know this from different and I would say independent angles. One "law" most often cited might be the law of gravity. We have certainly seen that gravity appears to apply in all circumstances we have been able to observe. But does that imply that we have seen enough to extrapolate it to a universal all places and all times? I always questioned the hubris of some humans to claim they have enough knowledge to extend this idea beyond its known limits (I escribe myself as being agnostic here). Not long ago I noted that in discussing voids in deep space, some astronomers are now referring to "alternate gravity theories" (sure I am quote mining here). It does appear to me that there are some anomalies appearing in the statistical generalizations that were used to posit a law of gravity.

And, following comments on the question of the role of the pursuit of causality in science, I think one possible reason why "laws" were posited was implicitely, at least, to put those pursuits aside as "givens". Given that, in fact, (as one physicist put it a couple of years ago) we really don't know how and why things like gravity actually work but hopfully (thanks to CERN, etc.) we may now be able to resume the exploration of that kind of question. So i do think in some ways at least "laws" were a useful kind of heuristic (albeit culturally, historically, etc., specific) but that value is now declining. For this kind of reason, perhaps now, in addition to the above, the idea of laws may well be standing in the way of scientific progress by assuming or asserting those things that should be the subject of investigation.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby Forest_Dump on December 28th, 2016, 12:30 pm 

Ironically and coincidentally, as I was trying to break my thoughts from this thread and move towards what I want to do this morning, I picked up a book I am reading and immediately happened upon the following paragraph:

"Objectively, (social) scientists should recognize that research is seldom, if ever, really value neutral. After all, the selection of a research topic typically erives from some researcher-oriented position. As previously mplied in this chapter, topic selection occurs because of an interest in the subject matter, or because it is a politically advantageous area to receive grant monies, becaue of some inner humanistic drive towards some social problems, or because one has personal experiences or what Lofland (1996, p. 44) calls "deep familiariety" with the subject area. The fact is, research is seldom undertaken for a neutral reason. Furthermore, all humans residing in and among social groups are the product of those social groups. This means that various values, moral attitudes, and beliefs orient people in a particular manner." (Bruce Berg (2001) "Qualitative Research Methods for the Social Sciences" p. 140.)

I put the second word in parentheses because I think this entire paragraph could be applied to any science including physics, math, etc.,often considered the most "objective" sciences. But we never even begin to go into any of these fields purely objectively. We go into them because of education (or other programming which could also be called propaganda) from parents, peers, the educational system that places value on certain kinds of questions with additional values on the results or products of thee fields, etc. which f course brings us smack dab into the middle of phenomenology (i.e., Hussurl, etc.), historicity, etc. If you don't recognize the drives, values, morals, individual history, etc., that led you to want to learn math, physics, or art history as oposed to any of the alternatives and why you ended up adopting th further values, morals, ethics, etc. that came with joining that particular "club", what makes you think you are doing more than being an automaton or dupe and are even as self-aware as any religius zealot?
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby Serpent on December 28th, 2016, 12:44 pm 

BadgerJelly » December 28th, 2016, 1:11 am wrote:Serpent -

I have to ask. Are you trying to purposefully argue with every point I make rather than trying to understand it in some way? Am I really that bad at expressing myself? :(

I don't think I can be bothered to continue if you persist it making remarks about how you assume I think writing began from an analogy I tried to use to express what you simply either refuse or fail to understand. I am only concerned if you understand the basis of what I am saying not if you agree with it or not. If you understand it generally then offer argumentation. It appears you are arguing more and more against things that I either have not said (making assumptions) or have little to no connection to what I am talking about.

I can't say I absolutely understand your central thesis, but believe I have a pretty good idea of what it is. Only, I disagree with it, as I attempted to show by countering your arguments and examples with my own. Or bungee-jumping into fantasy-land.
I believe the thematic interpretation is ... not flawed, so much as involuted, circumscribed, self-limiting. I mean - If you're right: Okay. Science is a pure impractical pursuit of theoretical absolutes regarding the physical world. Everything that doesn't meet this criterion is non-science. All of mankind is supposed to share this attitude or mind-set.
But you know it doesn't. So, that leaves most of us with neither science nor philosophy, to muddle through as best we can with mere engineering and politics. Which is what we've been doing all along.
So how is that esoteric Science relevant to us?

Obviously, my concept of science is inclusive* rather than strictly academic. I don't seek an absolute demarcation of science itself from other modes of thought, nor of disciplines one from another: I see all areas of study continuous and overlapping. I feel quite comfortable picturing physics in the hard center of science and a gradual softening in biology, medicine, archeology; with anthropology, sociology and psychology on the spongy margins and economics hanging on for dear life to the fringes.

*But it cannot possibly, by any stretch, include creationism, or any other religious dogma. Those topics do not readily submit to the methods of careful observation, hypothesis, testing or experimentation that I have previously outlined.

If Webster doesn't know what it's talking about, then I suppose Oxford's version
the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment
is also unacceptable, and Newton's laws are as cringe-worthy as Moses'. Archimedes might get to keep his principle, but he's pre-19th century, and an engineer, so doesn't count. Or maybe he does, being Greek and of the right period. I can't follow all of the reasons for exclusion .

If all that is so, then I'm completely out of my depth and possibly in the whole wrong medium. I'm a product of the 20th century; that's where my vocabulary and world-view were formed. I suppose that's where I'm stuck.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby Braininvat on December 28th, 2016, 12:45 pm 

I think semantics can take over, at some point. Call it a principle, call it a law, call it whatever gives you the least number of teleological qualms -- it does seem clear we can observe patterns and correlations in what we observe and poke and prod, and that there are sufficient instances of invariance in such patterns that we derive, with great resulting success in our predictions and applications, a principle of uniformity in nature. That principle of uniformity may have some limitations in its scope, sure, the physical constants could be different in some hypothetical alternate universe or need a bit of tweaking over very large scales of time and distance (Lee Smolin offers example, IIRC), but this doesn't seem to undermine the success of the principle and our willingness to step aboard a jet and cast a vote of confidence in Bernoulli's principle and its uniform application throughout our airspace. Philosophy may not want to take on the burden of a Principle of Uniformity, but science does, and reaps the benefits in having that small and highly warranted leap of faith. And, of course, we all (regardless of our avocations) make that leap of faith, embracing the principle of uniformity as we interact with out external environment, indeed it's coded into our DNA. In that respect, I would agree with those who suggest that we and our ancestors have been adopting and following a basic principle of science for hundreds of thousands of years or longer. If I drop this rock on that peccary from this tree branch, it will fall at the same rate as the thousands of other rocks we have been dropping on peccaries, so I'm going to release the rock in advance using the same rough calculation, etc.

So, at least in the hard sciences, I think there is a venerable legacy of presuming the Principle of Uniformity and having great success with it. In social sciences, yeah, the universe might be different looking in different directions and all bets are off! :-)
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby Forest_Dump on December 28th, 2016, 1:07 pm 

Braininvat wrote:That principle of uniformity may have some limitations in its scope, sure, the physical constants could be different in some hypothetical alternate universe or need a bit of tweaking over very large scales of time and distance (Lee Smolin offers example, IIRC), but this doesn't seem to undermine the success of the principle and our willingness to step aboard a jet and cast a vote of confidence in Bernoulli's principle and its uniform application throughout our airspace. Philosophy may not want to take on the burden of a Principle of Uniformity, but science does, and reaps the benefits in having that small and highly warranted leap of faith. And, of course, we all (regardless of our avocations) make that leap of faith, embracing the principle of uniformity as we interact with out external environment, indeed it's coded into our DNA. In that respect, I would agree with those who suggest that we and our ancestors have been adopting and following a basic principle of science for hundreds of thousands of years or longer. If I drop this rock on that peccary from this tree branch, it will fall at the same rate as the thousands of other rocks we have been dropping on peccaries, so I'm going to release the rock in advance using the same rough calculation, etc.


By this kind of reasoning, our current model of the solar system and an earlier one that is geocentric with the stars resulting from gods and heros going up to the sky, etc., could be equally scientific as both allow equal predictions and explanations, etc., up to a certain point. And further, that point of difference where these two equally scientific theories depart, is purely a product of accidental differences in (cultural evolutionary) time, technology, etc., which in turn are the products of economic and ideological evolution (and I avoid implying progress here). Correct?
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby Braininvat on December 28th, 2016, 1:15 pm 

Hi, Forest. Was progress in the methods of astronomy a matter of "accidental differences" ? Seems to me you've made my point about the principle of Uniformity: it was the assumption that the heavens were somehow a different realm from ours, ruled over by ethereal beings, that allowed the erroneous geocentric system to blossom into epicyclic madness. It wasn't ideology that improved astronomy, it was better observing instruments, wasn't it? Sure, some with ideological hangups refused to look, but eventually the better and more parsimonious account caught on. That sure sounds like progress to me - not sure what else to call it.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby Forest_Dump on December 28th, 2016, 1:48 pm 

Braininvat wrote:Hi, Forest. Was progress in the methods of astronomy a matter of "accidental differences" ? Seems to me you've made my point about the principle of Uniformity: it was the assumption that the heavens were somehow a different realm from ours, ruled over by ethereal beings, that allowed the erroneous geocentric system to blossom into epicyclic madness. It wasn't ideology that improved astronomy, it was better observing instruments, wasn't it? Sure, some with ideological hangups refused to look, but eventually the better and more parsimonious account caught on. That sure sounds like progress to me - not sure what else to call it.


In part I would focus on why we would actually wonder if it was progress. As far as the observations, etc., being made, for the vast majority of us, I am not sure there has even been any real change. When I go outside and look at the night sky, I see the same lights, etc., as anyone 2000 or more years ago anywhere in the northern hemisphere. The only practical improvements I can think of are in GPS, satelites for Google maps, watching TV, etc. but then I take it on faith that these metal birds called satelites (that actually make some of those moving lights in the night sky) are what they tell me they are and that it is not some tiny ghosts that make the noises in my ear buds, lights on my cell phone, etc. Bottom line here is that your principle of uniformity is not giving me much of a difference between the geocentric models of the Greeks or Mayans and our own 21st century models. For the same reason, you aren't giving me any reason to say that YE Creationism is any less scientific than evolution. What evidence do you or I have from every day life that dinosaur fossils aren't simply critters that missed Noah's boat?
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby TLK on December 28th, 2016, 1:52 pm 

Forest_Dump » Wed Dec 28, 2016 8:41 am wrote:
TLK wrote:But I agree with you that deriving scientific laws doesn't seem to be a deductive process. I think the derivation of scientific laws is actually inductive:


Before getting into "laws" I will put into my own words how one philosopher of science I liked (Alexander Bird in his book on the Philosophy of Science) defned deduction vs. induction - if and when we ever have to go out into the world and make observations or perform experiments, etc., then it is not deduction but induction.


I'm not too keen on too loosely using induction to describe experimentation. There may be some inductive elements to the interpretation of data gathered in an experiment, but the purpose of an experiment is to test whether or not a prediction derived from a hypothesis is "correct". And deriving a prediction from a hypothesis is a deductive process.

TLK wrote:I'm not sure why you think that using the term "scientific law" implies that there must be law makers. Dictionary.com defines "scientific law" as: "a phenomenon of nature that has been proven to invariably occur whenever certain conditions exist or are met; also, a formal statement about such a phenomenon..." That is, scientific laws are statements (often in the form of equations) of regular patterns in the things we observe. It is possible that a law maker made those patterns, but I don't see that the term "law" necessarily implies that the regular patterns are made by a law maker.


Forest_Dump » Wed Dec 28, 2016 8:41 am wrote:There is a big fuzzy exploding can of worms here which is why I don't like the terms "laws". First, I do know that when Comte introduced the term he did very much mean there was a law giver and law enforcer. But further, the very idea of laws themselves are specific to a kind of culture (state-level) and are therefore dependent upon a degree of linguistic determinism as well as political/religious ideology. The very notion or idea of "laws" then, is not and therefore cannot be universal.

But then we also know this from different and I would say independent angles. One "law" most often cited might be the law of gravity. We have certainly seen that gravity appears to apply in all circumstances we have been able to observe. But does that imply that we have seen enough to extrapolate it to a universal all places and all times? I always questioned the hubris of some humans to claim they have enough knowledge to extend this idea beyond its known limits (I escribe myself as being agnostic here). Not long ago I noted that in discussing voids in deep space, some astronomers are now referring to "alternate gravity theories" (sure I am quote mining here). It does appear to me that there are some anomalies appearing in the statistical generalizations that were used to posit a law of gravity.

And, following comments on the question of the role of the pursuit of causality in science, I think one possible reason why "laws" were posited was implicitely, at least, to put those pursuits aside as "givens". Given that, in fact, (as one physicist put it a couple of years ago) we really don't know how and why things like gravity actually work but hopfully (thanks to CERN, etc.) we may now be able to resume the exploration of that kind of question. So i do think in some ways at least "laws" were a useful kind of heuristic (albeit culturally, historically, etc., specific) but that value is now declining. For this kind of reason, perhaps now, in addition to the above, the idea of laws may well be standing in the way of scientific progress by assuming or asserting those things that should be the subject of investigation.


The meaning of words evolve over time and can take on different denotations and connotations depending on the community of people using the word and the context of its usage. The term "law" does tend to carry a connotation of something being absolute or universal (in time as well as in social location) in many contexts but within the current scientific community it is not intended to convey a meaning of something being utterly and completely universal and/or absolute:

http://www.livescience.com/21457-what-i ... c-law.html

Just because an idea becomes a law, doesn't mean that it can't be changed through scientific research in the future. The use of the word "law" by laymen and scientists differ. When most people talk about a law, they mean something that is absolute. A scientific law is much more flexible. It can have exceptions, be proven wrong or evolve over time, according to the University of California.

"A good scientist is one who always asks the question, 'How can I show myself wrong?'" Coppinger said. "In regards to the Law of Gravity or the Law of Independent Assortment, continual testing and observations have 'tweaked' these laws. Exceptions have been found. For example, Newton’s Law of Gravity breaks down when looking at the quantum (sub-atomic) level. Mendel’s Law of Independent Assortment breaks down when traits are “linked” on the same chromosome."
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby TLK on December 28th, 2016, 2:11 pm 

Braininvat » Wed Dec 28, 2016 9:45 am wrote:I think semantics can take over, at some point. Call it a principle, call it a law, call it whatever gives you the least number of teleological qualms -- it does seem clear we can observe patterns and correlations in what we observe and poke and prod, and that there are sufficient instances of invariance in such patterns that we derive, with great resulting success in our predictions and applications, a principle of uniformity in nature. That principle of uniformity may have some limitations in its scope, sure, the physical constants could be different in some hypothetical alternate universe or need a bit of tweaking over very large scales of time and distance (Lee Smolin offers example, IIRC), but this doesn't seem to undermine the success of the principle and our willingness to step aboard a jet and cast a vote of confidence in Bernoulli's principle and its uniform application throughout our airspace. Philosophy may not want to take on the burden of a Principle of Uniformity, but science does, and reaps the benefits in having that small and highly warranted leap of faith. And, of course, we all (regardless of our avocations) make that leap of faith, embracing the principle of uniformity as we interact with out external environment, indeed it's coded into our DNA. In that respect, I would agree with those who suggest that we and our ancestors have been adopting and following a basic principle of science for hundreds of thousands of years or longer. If I drop this rock on that peccary from this tree branch, it will fall at the same rate as the thousands of other rocks we have been dropping on peccaries, so I'm going to release the rock in advance using the same rough calculation, etc.

So, at least in the hard sciences, I think there is a venerable legacy of presuming the Principle of Uniformity and having great success with it. In social sciences, yeah, the universe might be different looking in different directions and all bets are off! :-)


I agree with pretty much all of this. There is no sense in trying to use particular kinds of observations of particular kinds of events to try to find a pattern and then use the proposed pattern to predict similar types of events in the future unless you assume that the events in the future will "unfold" like events in the past. As I said in a previous post, the current manifestation of the scientific method as it is most often applied is a refinement of the thinking that goes into trying to establish if a proposed pattern of events is an actual pattern of events or is not actually a pattern after all. People have been trying discern actual patterns from not actual patterns going way back in prehistory. The current scientific method is just using the same basic testing of hypotheses idea but with some refinements to try to achieve a greater degree of confidence in determining whether or not a proposed pattern is an actual pattern.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby BadgerJelly on December 28th, 2016, 2:13 pm 

Serpent -

I was trying to make a purposeful distinction about the "arrival" of "science" (science and philosophy), as a separating from a mythical-religious attitude. Someone studying math for sake of math is not concerned with its practical use. This is what I was trying to frame as the "theoretical attitude", meaning an interest pursued for its own sake. You could perhaps that the artist takes up a similar attitude. The difference there being the physical product brought about through techniques, which is more equivalent to craftsmanship and/or engineering. None of this I am saying to suggets that this "theoretical attitude" is wholly useless to practical life. All the achievements of philosophies/science have shown this already.

Science also used to be called "experimental philosophy". My personal view about the distinct today has changed a little and will most probably continue to change depending on how I alter my approach or what particular view I happen to have interest in atvany given time. I do not see "science" or "philosophy" as not sharing a very common "theoretical attitude" and how this attitude has become specialised over humanities history in differing threads.

Since my teenage years I have always considered physics to be the "purest" of the sciences and hold pretty much the same view as you do regarding movement towards "softer" sciences. That is a whole other topic though. Either way mathematics (as pure logical form) is essential to physics, is the intuitionalised language of physics ... yet the humanist descriptive understanding of such physics has to have a hand in the "philosophical" somewhere ir seems to me. I do have a rather strong view of philosophy in todays world be more than just a profession of studying the history of other philosophers. I see it, to.am unknown degree, as being about humanistic language and communal understanding. Yet within philosophies there are some also, much like within sciences "harder" and "softer" versions. The confusion for myself in attempts to delineate such things it the draw of philosophies towards "measuring" each philosophy against another. If physics is the "hardest" science then is logic the "hardest" philosophy? And what are soft philosophies? Is science merely a method? If so then is not philosophy also a mere method? ... These kind of questions show the overwillingness of the human mind to cross reference anything close at hand.

Could we really even say something as bizarre as hard philosophy is soft science or soft philosophy is hard science? Too many dichotic traps to fall into here, but I think they are worth mentioning.

Regardless of all this I cannot see a way beyond reason today being the heart of both science and philosophy. Science has a mathematical language, an ideal absolute language. Whilst philosophy deals with word concepts and forms of such variety that it often fall prey to numerous sporadic interests that, much like science, reach towards their "infinite task".

I am not saying science is an impractical pursuit at its heart. I am saying philosophy/science comes from an initial impractical pursuit. This is where I have failed to express terms such as life-world or my The World, "horizons" etc,. It is my fault because I was hoping to not have to refer to Husserl to bring clarity to these terms.

I honestly don't think we're on the same page. Readin the same subject though so I guess we'll both have to be more patient, or me at least! Hahaha!

I can only thank you. You have helped me refine my wording a little and given me a better understanding of what I need to say better if not how to say it (that is my problem though).
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby Athena on December 28th, 2016, 2:28 pm 

dandelion » December 27th, 2016, 5:09 am wrote:I’m very pleased it triggered some thoughts of interest, Athena, and I liked Forrest’s discussion of music very much too. I like the way Athena wrote of how some language use may be restrictive. This aspect of language may be used to hinder inquiry and possible improvement. Possibly, language may be considered more open or may be considered more restricted.

Athena (possibly earlier, Atana Potnia), also mentioned religion. An article linked in this thread linked with some similarities, includes discussion about belief and change-
http://www.sciencechatforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=129&t=27635 .

I'll add, the term “scientist” was introduced by someone involved in scientific and philosophical fields in discussion (Whewell) with someone involved with artistic and philosophical fields (Coleridge e.g., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Taylor_Coleridge#/media/File:KublaKhan.jpeg). As mentioned in the thread linked, views there are communicated from someone with professional credentials in science and philosophy of science.


Thank you for the acknowledgment, which I see as an invitation to say more along the line that interest me. It was Edward T Hall, an anthropologist, and his book "Beyond Culture" that made me aware of how languages and cultures limit not only what we know, but also what we can know. And fundamentally the logic of the East and West are different. This needs to be understood if the minds of the East and West are to open and do anything other than argue against each other. Quantum physics is cracking the box that holds the western mind in a closed space, and some in this field have turned to eastern logic to wrap their heads around quantum physics.

http://webpages.charter.net/lrsmith/eastwest.htm

What concerns me is if the west does not move fast enough in adjusting its mind set, China will surpass us technologically and if this happens with space war technology, the US will not be the dominant power on earth. I say that because our arrogance could lead to serious problems, as did in fact, China's arrogance lead to the serious problem, of being left technologically behind.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby Athena on December 28th, 2016, 2:48 pm 

BadgerJelly » December 28th, 2016, 12:13 pm wrote:Serpent -

I was trying to make a purposeful distinction about the "arrival" of "science" (science and philosophy), as a separating from a mythical-religious attitude. Someone studying math for sake of math is not concerned with its practical use. This is what I was trying to frame as the "theoretical attitude", meaning an interest pursued for its own sake. You could perhaps that the artist takes up a similar attitude. The difference there being the physical product brought about through techniques, which is more equivalent to craftsmanship and/or engineering. None of this I am saying to suggets that this "theoretical attitude" is wholly useless to practical life. All the achievements of philosophies/science have shown this already.

Science also used to be called "experimental philosophy". My personal view about the distinct today has changed a little and will most probably continue to change depending on how I alter my approach or what particular view I happen to have interest in atvany given time. I do not see "science" or "philosophy" as not sharing a very common "theoretical attitude" and how this attitude has become specialised over humanities history in differing threads.

Since my teenage years I have always considered physics to be the "purest" of the sciences and hold pretty much the same view as you do regarding movement towards "softer" sciences. That is a whole other topic though. Either way mathematics (as pure logical form) is essential to physics, is the intuitionalised language of physics ... yet the humanist descriptive understanding of such physics has to have a hand in the "philosophical" somewhere ir seems to me. I do have a rather strong view of philosophy in todays world be more than just a profession of studying the history of other philosophers. I see it, to.am unknown degree, as being about humanistic language and communal understanding. Yet within philosophies there are some also, much like within sciences "harder" and "softer" versions. The confusion for myself in attempts to delineate such things it the draw of philosophies towards "measuring" each philosophy against another. If physics is the "hardest" science then is logic the "hardest" philosophy? And what are soft philosophies? Is science merely a method? If so then is not philosophy also a mere method? ... These kind of questions show the overwillingness of the human mind to cross reference anything close at hand.

Could we really even say something as bizarre as hard philosophy is soft science or soft philosophy is hard science? Too many dichotic traps to fall into here, but I think they are worth mentioning.

Regardless of all this I cannot see a way beyond reason today being the heart of both science and philosophy. Science has a mathematical language, an ideal absolute language. Whilst philosophy deals with word concepts and forms of such variety that it often fall prey to numerous sporadic interests that, much like science, reach towards their "infinite task".

I am not saying science is an impractical pursuit at its heart. I am saying philosophy/science comes from an initial impractical pursuit. This is where I have failed to express terms such as life-world or my The World, "horizons" etc,. It is my fault because I was hoping to not have to refer to Husserl to bring clarity to these terms.

I honestly don't think we're on the same page. Readin the same subject though so I guess we'll both have to be more patient, or me at least! Hahaha!

I can only thank you. You have helped me refine my wording a little and given me a better understanding of what I need to say better if not how to say it (that is my problem though).


Newton, is called by some, the last of the magicians. This argument of where philosophy takes a separate path from science, lead to me finding this most interesting link. When did magic and alchemy and inventiveness become science?

https://www.neh.gov/humanities/2011/jan ... t-magician

Newton described such work as chymistry. And the word is a useful reminder—with its echo of modern “chemistry,” yet archaic spelling—of what alchemy meant to people in Newton’s time. Today, most people think of alchemists as either foolish necromancers or lowlifes obsessed with chrysopoeia—turning base metals into gold. That view comes down to us largely through the enemies of alchemy, Enlightenment thinkers, for example, who wanted to stamp out “magical” thinking and, ironically, install a mechanistic, “Newtonian” outlook instead. But alchemists were important for humankind’s intellectual development—the larvae that metamorphosed into Enlightenment philosophes and modern scientists. Especially important was the later alchemists’ willingness to test their theories with experiments, even theories that conflicted with accepted doctrines. Boyle was the primary example here, but John Locke, Gottfried Leibnitz, and others exchanged letters with and befriended alchemists, too, looking to chymistry for wisdom about the natural world.

Newton’s chymistry followed this tradition in many ways, Newman says, especially his view of nature as a riddle that only a gnostic brotherhood of alchemists could unravel. At the same time, Newton was unique among alchemists for uniting his chymistry with other, seemingly disconnected scientific obsessions of his, such as optics. Newman even argues that Newton’s famous demonstration that white light was merely a combination of colored light rays owes a significant debt to the alchemy of Boyle.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby Forest_Dump on December 28th, 2016, 2:49 pm 

TLK wrote:I'm not too keen on too loosely using induction to describe experimentation. There may be some inductive elements to the interpretation of data gathered in an experiment, but the purpose of an experiment is to test whether or not a prediction derived from a hypothesis is "correct". And deriving a prediction from a hypothesis is a deductive process.


True to a degree (perhaps). If the experiment confirms the hypothesis and conforms to it, then maybe. Unless of course you consider the possibility that some equifinality may have been involved. I may be breeding fruit flies for many generations under the hypothesis that only a mutation (or a hidden recessive trait as an alternative) will lead to change in the population. And then a variation appears after 100 generations. So, deductively my hypothesis would be deemed correct. Unless I take into account that the alternative was responsible. As long as I do not question an alternative, it would be deductively true. But is that really true?

Similarly, when an experiment is seen as departing from deductive predictions, did we do something wrong either in our deductions or in our execution? Or was there something else at play which would lead to the need for alternate approaches in which case it is now inductive.

TLK wrote:The meaning of words evolve over time and can take on different denotations and connotations depending on the community of people using the word and the context of its usage. The term "law" does tend to carry a connotation of something being absolute or universal (in time as well as in social location) in many contexts but within the current scientific community it is not intended to convey a meaning of something being utterly and completely universal and/or absolute:


Certainly true to a degree. So, thus, we do often need to clarify which definition of atom or evolution we are using in which context and what that means for the point we are making. So, now when I use the word atom it is probably not as first used by the Greeks, or the Bohr atom I learned in highschool but somehow now somehow takes into account all this Higgs-Boson stuff I barely understand. Which, by the way, now definitely gets us into this whole historicity and phenomenology thing because when I use terms like atom or evolution and it is different than your useage (whether or not either of us knows this) we also need to take into account either of us may be on the verge of being recognized as the next Darwin, Kepler or Comte or maybe we should be but won't because of some political or economic factor, etc. And of course another bottom line here is how do you or I know either of us is ever right? Conformity to some dictionairy?
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby dandelion on December 28th, 2016, 2:57 pm 

I haven't read more through the thread in order to discuss better, yet, but from taking a quick look, I think this-
Serpent » December 28th, 2016, 6:29 am wrote: -Nobody decides to invent writing - it's a gradual, collaborative, cumulative effort...
may be considered differently, being aware from various sources, including I think sources I’ve already used here, that there may be views that differ, involving arguments that deliberate adaptation may have been undertaken, but don’t remember which are the best examples. Here is a view I found quickly-

“Powell's study Homer and the Origin of the Greek Alphabet advances the thesis that a single man invented the Greek alphabet expressly in order to record the poems of Homer. This thesis is controversial. The book was the subject of an international conference in Berlin in 2002 and has been influential outside classical philology, especially in media studies.” - wiki
http://www.jstor.org/stable/270015?seq= ... b_contents
https://monoskop.org/images/c/c5/Powell ... phabet.pdf
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby BadgerJelly on December 28th, 2016, 3:08 pm 

Athena -

That is a whole other very interesting subject. Francis Yates work in regards to such is pretty solid stuff. I cannot say I have ever heard of Newton being associated with such stuff.

I personally equate the tradition of Magick as being something like an amalgam of psychology and a kind of psychonautic exploration. I do think a lot of the work done by practitioners of the those times was scientific to a degree, only a kind of science performed under a deep belief and bias toward a certain goal. A great deal of this persisted in medicine as Foucault shows in regards to such things as "nervous fibers", "hysterias" and "phobias".

Historically Yates argues for the importance of such a movement in the development of our modern sciences and put some solid scholary work into showing some of the influences these thinkers had on the time. It has been soemntime since I've read much on this subject. I'll have a look over the next few days. In the mean time you may find it interesting to look at John Dee or more famously Cornelius Agrippa.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby TLK on December 28th, 2016, 3:24 pm 

Forest_Dump » Wed Dec 28, 2016 7:53 am wrote:
wolfhnd wrote:Honestly creationist are no more irrational to me than Marxist, they look at the evidence and find a million reasons why the evidence doesn't support their theory. They then concoct and alternative reality to support their theory. We all do this a thousand time a day it's called cognitive dissonance. It happens to scientists every day.


In fact, I am not a priori sure Creationists are necessarily any less rational than the besy scientists. Following from my earlier posts, I think one (but only one) important point is that I am definitely not sure we ever objecively select data to study because we only select data or observations that we find some interest or value in and therefore it follows that anything and everything in science becomes culturally subjective which is why I do confine science to be a recent western invention. I am actually happy with minimizing science as being a way of my people (however that would or should be defined) but then immediately/simultaneously reify it as a way of MY people (while trying to not disrespect other cultural traditions. Including Creationists and other toxic exploiters of religion? political ideology? How is all that for PC gyrations?)



I just wanted to comment on what is rational and what is irrational. In some contexts "rational" is used in a manner that implies "sane", but in the context of competition of ideas I think "rational" should refer to using valid thinking processes. Of course, different people may have different notions in mind about what constitutes a valid thinking process so before characterizing something as rational or irrational I think it is important to spell out what one specifically means when the say "rational".

To me a solid grounding for the use of the word "rational" is found in notion of logic. Does the argument presented use valid logic? If so, I would say it was a rational argument. A valid use of logic may lead to wrong conclusions but that doesn't mean the argument was irrational - it very often just means that one or more of the assumptions of the argument are not true or correct (or maybe better to say "are assessed as not true or correct").

By that standard, a creationist may come to "false" conclusions but if they used valid logic in reaching their conclusions, then I would not say the creationist was being irrational. It could very well be that I just reject one or more of the assumptions they used to make their argument.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby Serpent on December 28th, 2016, 4:04 pm 

BadgerJelly » December 28th, 2016, 1:13 pm wrote:Serpent -

I was trying to make a purposeful distinction about the "arrival" of "science" (science and philosophy), as a separating from a mythical-religious attitude.

I know. That is our main point of contention. Mythology and superstution not only failed to go away with the advent of modern science; they actually subvert the language of science.

There is no separation of attitudes in time or place; there is only the sequestration or cloistering of specialized disciplines; their appropriation by a small, self-anointed elite.
Some of these little bands of scholars are religious, some are secular; their scholarship is sometimes in the service of monarchy, sometimes of capitalism or imperialism; some are openly cynical; some self-deluding; some enamoured of the idea of pure knowledge. Some need to make a living with their profession; some have an independent income; most do research as an adjunct to teaching. None are entirely free of emotion, prejudice, ambition and the philosophical climate of their time.

Someone studying math for sake of math is not concerned with its practical use. This is what I was trying to frame as the "theoretical attitude", meaning an interest pursued for its own sake.

I didn't dispute that. What I contend is that such an attitude is confined to an individual or school. That it has always been present in some individuals, but never pervaded an entire culture. While some cultures are more open to a scientific outlook while others are more suspicious of it, none have yet been free of unreason, mythology and magical thinking. None have yet been free - as far as i know - of rational apologetics for irrational beliefs - this is an activity of which philosophers shouldn't feel all that proud.

(BTW, I don't classify mathematics as a science. As you say, it is a language - at the most fanciful non-functional end, it's poetry; in the middle, it's a tool for sciences, engineering and crafts; stock-taking and banking at the practical end. I don't feel strongly drawn to maths, so won't defend this assessment if it's considered wrong.)

.... yet the humanist descriptive understanding of such physics has to have a hand in the "philosophical" somewhere ir seems to me.

I know many people have said this, but have yet to hear a convincing argument why it should be so.
Ethics, yes - that is the proper arena for philosophy. But i don't see any specialized scientific discipline as requiring its own specialized philosophy.
The guiding principles of a society ought to be comprehensive enough to include how science is applied, how justice is applied, how education is applied; how child-care, industry, research and government is expect to comport itself and to what ends. Elaborating those guiding principles is the province of philosophers.

Yet within philosophies there are some also, much like within sciences "harder" and "softer" versions.

I'm afraid that classification would line up along pragmatic lines. Utterly useless quibbles over logical gymnastics at one end; popular pap at the other. The most productive, likely in the middle section where it examines the belief-structure of its own current society and recommends improvements.
The confusion for myself in attempts to delineate such things it the draw of philosophies towards "measuring" each philosophy against another.

I can see only two ways of doing that. One is the historical perspective: compare how well a school or scholar had described the functioning of its own social structures and what - if any - improvements it percipitated. Of course, you would first have to have a strongly-held and self-consistent yardstick of values... which would necessarily be subjective or based on a chosen philosophical outlook.

Is science merely a method?

Merely? No: it is a system of thought; a way of looking at the material world.
If so then is not philosophy also a mere method?

No, it's a different system of thought: a way of looking at man-in-his-world.

Could we really even say something as bizarre as hard philosophy is soft science or soft philosophy is hard science? Too many dichotic traps to fall into here, but I think they are worth mentioning.

I certainly wouldn't say anything like that. The overlap of mental functions doesn't bother me unduly. Every scientist has a philosophical component (also a romantic one, an aesthetic one, a sexual one, a gullible one, a covetous one, etc. and very often, a religious one.) We don't need to dissect a person's entire brain to find out whether he's capable of carrying out the functions required for a given discipline. We don't have to throw away all our other human attributes, or even leave the other attributes on the coat-rack when we don a particular hat.
Indeed, a chef who brings science, romance and art into his work probably cooks better than one who attempts to keep food-making 'pure' from all other endeavours. Instinct, intuition, imagination, even whimsy may very well improve your work in science or philosophy.
So long as you have a guiding principle and stick to the rules of your discipline

I am not saying science is an impractical pursuit at its heart. I am saying philosophy/science comes from an initial impractical pursuit.

That looks like a contradiction to me. Unless it means that science began as impractical pursuit and later developed a practical heart, I don't understand it. (And here I thought I was finally following your drift!)

This is where I have failed to express terms such as life-world or my The World, "horizons" etc,.

You have expressed them very well in several instances.
I just don't believe it's true.

Wording can be an obstacle, for sure, but it can be overcome. Fundamentally different conceptions of humanness might prove insurmountable.

dandelion -- “Powell's study Homer and the Origin of the Greek Alphabet advances the thesis that a single man invented the Greek alphabet expressly in order to record the poems of Homer.

I have no problem with that (assuming that's how it happened.) It fits very nicely into the gradual, pragmatic development view. He didn't invent writing, just for the Hellenese. Writing of various kinds had already been in use for commerce and record-keeping long before that particular innovation was made for that particular purpose.
Once in a while, an adaptation proves so advantageous that it's very quickly adopted by the majority of users and becomes the new norm. Once in a while, a widely-used process or skill-set or database is so disparate as to become unwieldy; then a tidy-minded and influential user comes along and organizes, systematizes, classifies, collates or standardizes it. These big consolidating steps are more noticeable than the little steps which precede and follow them, but they do not constitute a whole new thing.
Last edited by Serpent on December 28th, 2016, 4:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby Forest_Dump on December 28th, 2016, 4:06 pm 

TLK wrote:I just wanted to comment on what is rational and what is irrational. In some contexts "rational" is used in a manner that implies "sane", but in the context of competition of ideas I think "rational" should refer to using valid thinking processes. Of course, different people may have different notions in mind about what constitutes a valid thinking process so before characterizing something as rational or irrational I think it is important to spell out what one specifically means when the say "rational".

To me a solid grounding for the use of the word "rational" is found in notion of logic. Does the argument presented use valid logic? If so, I would say it was a rational argument. A valid use of logic may lead to wrong conclusions but that doesn't mean the argument was irrational - it very often just means that one or more of the assumptions of the argument are not true or correct (or maybe better to say "are assessed as not true or correct").

By that standard, a creationist may come to "false" conclusions but if they used valid logic in reaching their conclusions, then I would not say the creationist was being irrational. It could very well be that I just reject one or more of the assumptions they used to make their argument.


Quite right and from here I can move back towards my specific definition/philosophy of science (implicitely acknowledging but side-slipping a whole package of historicity, etc.

A strict literalist (fundamentalist, etc.) religionist would say that (as a necessary premise) a supernatural (omniscient, omnipowerful) being is known (through other forms of knowledge such a devine revelation) to exist and acts as an ultimate origin, a scientific law maker and enforcer, etc., and is thus necessary to explain the world as we see it while perhaps an antithesis (Satan, etc?) acts as a deluder to obscure these truths, etc. (Sure there are a number of problems here but I think best to move on.)

A more scientific ID-type could argue (and I am deliberately putting more of a neutral rather than specifically Christian spin on this) that such a supernatural deity MIGHT play a role in the world we see and even that at least some evidence can be pointed to that would make such a supernatural being a more parsimoneous explanation. (IMHO this can be debated but it is a very tricky process.)

A rigid athiest would likely say that we have no evidence of such a deity (with, of course, very rigid criteria for including some evidence but precluding other kinds) and therefore even the possibility must be ruled out. (This is an extreme position, to be sure, and one I find ranges between naive and perhaps even stupidly arrogant but I am foisting it as an extreme.)

My own agnostic stance is that whether or not there is a deity is irrelevant (I am actually somewhere on a scale between a weak agnostic to somewhat of an animist at times) because science can and should try to work perfectly well without reference to a supernatural deity and, more to the point, I need strong reasons that I have never satisfactorily seen to even want to try to invoke the actions of a deity. I don't preclude the possibility of a deity een acting as a law maker and enforcer but rather see absolutely no reason why I would want to bring it into anything I would call science.

I will even go further. I can't imagine anything that would make me happier than if something like ID or atheism could come up with something solid that would tell me one way or the other and, in fact, I could not imagine any result of scientific enquiry that could possibly have greater significance to the world and our species (how's that for hyperbola). So I have read many atheist and ID arguments and have found both to be ultimately flawed and unconvincing due to premises that can be challenged. Since hope springs eternal, I would prefer to read more ID stuff (more optimistic IMHO) but do get somehat embittered when the wheels fall off the cart (such as happened recently with the Belinski crap).
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby Scott Mayers on December 28th, 2016, 5:01 pm 

TLK,

I disagree with one point above you mentioned (but agree with most of your own understanding on the issues).

On "laws" of science, I think that the internal assumptions regarding nature DOES imply a 'law maker' if it is not based on absolute nothing as an origin. The word 'law' by many in science tends to act conveniently as ANY generalized assumptions based on experience AND the input assumptions of the Uniformity that Braininvat mentions. Even logic itself tends to assume consistency (identity), non-contradiction, and exclusive truth values as pre-ordained laws without justifying.

The unwillingness to take that step back to assuming NO LAWS initially is hard for many to accept due to RELIGIOUS thinking, regardless of whether one deems themselves as non-religious or not. You are correct about the induction factor as science and even logic are inferred by pattern seeking. However, science should either stick strictly with the practicality of the methods or accept philosophy as an essential part of it OPEN TO PUBLIC access. That is, it should 'shut up and calculate' and never speak authoritatively upon 'answers' OR it should allow a part of it to be approached by philosophy and logic in general.

What bothers me is how many of the practitioners of science tends to think they alone are privileged to speak authoritatively on INTERPRETATION of their observations and experimenting. You cannot REPEAT constant factors of nature that are reduced to purely physical descriptions to expect something different in all areas. So the theoretical aspects involved are actually not the PRACTICE of science but a privileged practice of the natural philosophy BY practitioners with scientific backgrounds. When this is not clearly understood, it falsely assumes that the scientist is credible to the logical authority on theory of their efforts. While it is a bonus to have such formal background, "science" actually belongs to ALL people's right to interpret philosophically unless philosophy is legitimately recognized within science also, something I personally prefer.

I don't think there would be a need to dismiss demarcation that distinguishes parts of science to require more strict requirements than the more haphazard philosophizing that enables religious or pseudo-scientific thinking into the discussion. But they can be 'legitimately' reflective of participation if it RESPECTS those coming in at some level WITH open philosophizing by the public. What tends to happen though is that those with different understandings contrary to the authoritative views are told to shut up and obey before they are privileged to think. Thinking though requires the reversed process: questioning, postulating, theorizing, then learning by their own means. So even the odd thinking that some think should be dismissed in science only alienates hypocritically those KINDS of thinkers needed to advance science on a theoretical level, not simply a practical one.

So forums for public participation in science MUST respect the novice to BE philosophical foremost BEFORE even expecting them to BE clerically 'fit' for the practice of science proper. That is, a philosophic intellect and 'degree' of experience should come FIRST, before the actual expectation to be 'good' at the practice of science. This has been reversed in institutions where the PH.D (Philosophical degree) is the domain of those who have proven their efficiency at the practice up front. Why should anyone require clerical skills before they are able to see the value of what they are entering into by FAITH when the very ideal of 'science' is to trust WITHOUT FAITH?



On the term, "rational".

I treat 'rational' as it derived similarly in math. It treats one concept in contrast to another in a finite (de-finite) way, as a ratio. What is 'rational' external to numbers is a comparison between two or more ideas or concepts that are understood as one clear idea with closure. A fraction like 1/2 means that to some finite idea, we have one part of two in some equal unit measure.

For all issues, what is 'rational', then, is to be able to clearly enunciate a comparison of one or more ideas with respect to one or more other finite ideas. If it is left open, like non-rational numbers, the lack of closure makes it hard for many to share in some common defined way. But just AS numbers, the rational are NOT all their is to the virtue of 'truth'. Take Quantum Mechanic's Copenhagen interpretation of entanglement and superpostions, for instance; these are irrational and even imaginary in parts; but they can be still practical means even without the acceptance of the interpretation to determine real truths.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby TLK on December 28th, 2016, 7:04 pm 

Forest_Dump » Wed Dec 28, 2016 11:49 am wrote:
TLK wrote:I'm not too keen on too loosely using induction to describe experimentation. There may be some inductive elements to the interpretation of data gathered in an experiment, but the purpose of an experiment is to test whether or not a prediction derived from a hypothesis is "correct". And deriving a prediction from a hypothesis is a deductive process.


True to a degree (perhaps). If the experiment confirms the hypothesis and conforms to it, then maybe. Unless of course you consider the possibility that some equifinality may have been involved. I may be breeding fruit flies for many generations under the hypothesis that only a mutation (or a hidden recessive trait as an alternative) will lead to change in the population. And then a variation appears after 100 generations. So, deductively my hypothesis would be deemed correct. Unless I take into account that the alternative was responsible. As long as I do not question an alternative, it would be deductively true. But is that really true?

Similarly, when an experiment is seen as departing from deductive predictions, did we do something wrong either in our deductions or in our execution? Or was there something else at play which would lead to the need for alternate approaches in which case it is now inductive.


I'm not sure about that it takes inductive inferences alone to develop alternate approaches if an experiment departs from the deductive predictions, but I'm going to address your earlier point about what it means to say an experiment can determine if a hypothesis is true. I didn't use the word "true". I deliberately used the word "correct" in parentheses because I knew that was an oversimplification. I was thinking in terms of all experimental results are ultimately tentative to some extent. There is always the possibility of more information coming forth that could change our conclusions (tentative conclusions). I used "correct" (in parentheses) rather than the word "true" because I wanted a word that could be taken a little more flexibly than "true". If there is sufficient rigor in the design and execution of the experiment and its repeated verification by others, I don't think we end up concluding that the hypothesis is "true" but rather that we can have more confidence in the conclusion than if the experimental design is not particularly rigorous or repeatedly verified by others. I should probably try to find a better word than "correct" to express that.

I definitely like your point about the possibility of equifinality in experiments. If someone does not rigorously contemplate the possibility of there being alternate hypotheses that can equally account for the patterns that we think we see in our observations, then it certainly is possible that they may end up concluding that a hypothesis is the "correct" hypothesis when a different hypothesis may be more of the actual reason for the experimental results than the tested hypthesis.

There is also the issue of how much confidence we can have in a conclusion of an experiment if we aren't completely sure that we have accounted for all of the control variables. This, I'm sure, is a much bigger problem with natural experiments like you find in anthropology. If an experimenter is not careful, that could also lead the experimenter to have more confidence in the conclusion of their experiment than is warranted. The possibility of unaccounted for control variables is one of the reasons that it makes sense to talk more in terms of confidence in experimental conclusions rather than the truth of those conclusions and to always keep open the possibility of other conclusions being more warranted.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby BadgerJelly on December 29th, 2016, 3:52 am 

Serpent -

I am going to have to cheat now. I am going to post two last bits of Husserl's, The Vienna Lecture. There you should hopefully get a better appreciation of thr admixture I've messily tried to present here.

Other than that I feel need to comment that the scientist is concerned with objectivity and, try as they might, the subjective elements of who they are are never going to be cut out. I would never suggest there is a black and white delineation between anything. I am simply trying to frame a particular weighted attitude that took place and allowed the way for reason to become a pursuit unto itself. It seems glaringly obvious to me that practical everyday interaction in the world would "stack up" certain successful activities and that this culmination of techniques would create a certain method within a cultural attitude. At some point there would be different methods and at some point the cultural attitude would turn towards looking at the method of method, the method to find the best method. I am saying nothing more than that!

Just like there was a seed of "science/philosophy" in the mythological-religious attitude, so there will remain a seed of mythological-religious attitude in "science". I would fear disregard for subjective matters, which is a strong part of generalised scientific politics (do disregard subjective view). In error we find social sciences takingnobjecyive data to try to understand subjectivity ... useful, but also in direct opposition to the matter at hand.
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