Hawking contra Philosophy

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Philosophy Now
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Hawking contra Philosophy

Post by Philosophy Now »

Christopher Norris presents a case for the defence.

http://philosophynow.org/issues/82/Hawk ... Philosophy
Typist
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Re: Hawking contra Philosophy

Post by Typist »

I thought this bit was interesting.
True, science has achieved some of its most notable advances precisely by venturing beyond the furthest limits of evidential proof. It has often broken new ground by following some speculative line of thought that involves a readiness, at least for the time being, to make do without the props and securities of ‘good’ scientific method.
I read it to suggest there is a limit to the usefulness of being a logic tight ass, and a prisoner of the known.

Adamant atheists seem an example we might all be familiar with. They demand that reason be a mechanical machine, where you push a button, and the correct answer pops out. They are in a big hurry to rush from a lack of evidence of God, to the conclusion God does not exist. It's like they've put their quarter in the vending machine, and then demand their candy bar, right now.

Such a state of mind will usually be limited to refining the details of the known. "Notable advances" would seem to require a state of mind that is lighter on it's feet, carrying less baggage, eager to go where it hasn't been before.

For logic nerds like us, that may involve exploring other abilities of the human mind beyond a manipulation of abstract concepts.
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Arising_uk
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Re: Hawking contra Philosophy

Post by Arising_uk »

Typist wrote:I thought this bit was interesting.
True, science has achieved some of its most notable advances precisely by venturing beyond the furthest limits of evidential proof. It has often broken new ground by following some speculative line of thought that involves a readiness, at least for the time being, to make do without the props and securities of ‘good’ scientific method.
I read it to suggest there is a limit to the usefulness of being a logic tight ass, and a prisoner of the known.
You would as you want to introduce your pet subject. Although what the fuck is a "logic tight ass, and a prisoner of the known."? :roll:
And Ta! DA!
Adamant atheists seem an example we might all be familiar with. They demand that reason be a mechanical machine, where you push a button, and the correct answer pops out. They are in a big hurry to rush from a lack of evidence of God, to the conclusion God does not exist. It's like they've put their quarter in the vending machine, and then demand their candy bar, right now. ...
You're talking about the theist, as all atheists are adamant about is that they are in no big hurry to believe the conclusion that 'God' exists due to a lack of evidence.
As has been pointed out to Typist many times, all godbotherers are atheists, just not about their own 'god/s', but he can't get his head around this.
Such a state of mind will usually be limited to refining the details of the known. "Notable advances" would seem to require a state of mind that is lighter on it's feet, carrying less baggage, eager to go where it hasn't been before. ...
The article said less 'good' scientific method, not none. Personally I think it means that they have to turn to philosophising every now and then.
For logic nerds like us, that may involve exploring other abilities of the human mind beyond a manipulation of abstract concepts.
Thus showing you are not a 'logic nerd'. What do you mean by "manipulation of abstract concepts"? What are these "other abilities of the human mind"?
artisticsolution
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Re: Hawking contra Philosophy

Post by artisticsolution »

Arising_uk wrote:
Typist wrote:I thought this bit was interesting.
True, science has achieved some of its most notable advances precisely by venturing beyond the furthest limits of evidential proof. It has often broken new ground by following some speculative line of thought that involves a readiness, at least for the time being, to make do without the props and securities of ‘good’ scientific method.
I read it to suggest there is a limit to the usefulness of being a logic tight ass, and a prisoner of the known.
You would as you want to introduce your pet subject. Although what the fuck is a "logic tight ass, and a prisoner of the known."? :roll:
And Ta! DA!
Adamant atheists seem an example we might all be familiar with. They demand that reason be a mechanical machine, where you push a button, and the correct answer pops out. They are in a big hurry to rush from a lack of evidence of God, to the conclusion God does not exist. It's like they've put their quarter in the vending machine, and then demand their candy bar, right now. ...
You're talking about the theist, as all atheists are adamant about is that they are in no big hurry to believe the conclusion that 'God' exists due to a lack of evidence.
As has been pointed out to Typist many times, all godbotherers are atheists, just not about their own 'god/s', but he can't get his head around this.

Maybe he can understand it put in Rick Gervais terms:

"Since the beginning of recorded history, which is defined by the invention of writing by the Sumerians around 6,000 years ago, historians have cataloged over 3700 supernatural beings, of which 2870 can be considered deities.

So next time someone tells me they believe in God, I’ll say “Oh which one? Zeus? Hades? Jupiter? Mars? Odin? Thor? Krishna? Vishnu? Ra?…” If they say “Just God. I only believe in the one God,” I’ll point out that they are nearly as atheistic as me. I don’t believe in 2,870 gods, and they don’t believe in 2,869."

What I don't understand why Typist calls himself an atheist? I mean if he thinks there is no proof either way then why choose sides? Also, another thing I don't understand about atheists and theists is why do they insist on defining particular Gods and then go about believing or not believing? Is it possible that God doesn't have a definition? Is it possible that any being that created the universe would not be like us or not even think of us as anything other than a few cells in comparison to the entire universe? What I am trying to say is what if we nixed the image in our minds of the human based God of lore and instead replaced the idea with a scientist type God who simply liked creating shit? What if the big bang was just a really cool experiment in a science laboratory of Gods? Seems as plausible as any physicists string theory, ect. Albeit on a larger scale...where the string/membrane theory was actually smaller than a cell relative to the God scientists world.
Such a state of mind will usually be limited to refining the details of the known. "Notable advances" would seem to require a state of mind that is lighter on it's feet, carrying less baggage, eager to go where it hasn't been before. ...
The article said less 'good' scientific method, not none. Personally I think it means that they have to turn to philosophising every now and then.
For logic nerds like us, that may involve exploring other abilities of the human mind beyond a manipulation of abstract concepts.
Thus showing you are not a 'logic nerd'. What do you mean by "manipulation of abstract concepts"? What are these "other abilities of the human mind"?
yakaboo
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Re: Hawking contra Philosophy

Post by yakaboo »

Atheism and logic / rationality don't mix. And it doesn't matter how many different names for God that humans have invented. Either there's an intelligence behind existence or there isn't, and humans don't know, can't know, and don't really understand the question. So atheism is a faith, just as much as any particular, or general theism. And faith and philosophy don't mix either.
RupertRead
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Re: Hawking contra Philosophy

Post by RupertRead »

This article by Norris includes a disastrous misinterpretation of Thomas Kuhn, as a relativist. For rebuttal, see for instance my book, KUHN.
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Rortabend
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Re: Hawking contra Philosophy

Post by Rortabend »

RupertRead wrote:This article by Norris includes a disastrous misinterpretation of Thomas Kuhn, as a relativist. For rebuttal, see for instance my book, KUHN.
Perhaps. But he is not alone in this reading of Kuhn. One only has to think of his influence on SSK. This is also Rorty's idiosyncratic interpretation of Kuhn.

When asked if a particular interpretation of The Wasteland had discovered its true meaning he simply replied 'I meant what I wrote'. It seems that Kuhn spent a lot of his time after Structure saying 'I didn't mean what I wrote'.
keithprosser2
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Re: Hawking contra Philosophy

Post by keithprosser2 »

Why are scientists dismissive of philosophy? I don't think they are. They are however dismissive of philosophers! It would be easier for scientists to take philosophy seriously if philosophers would take time out to think about issues collaboratively (as scientists are accustomed) to rather than trying to score points off each other. Should I pick up book by scientist A and scientist B is will not be a case of B showing where A is wrong. Philosophers discuss other philosophers, not issues.

And philosophy is the slave of science, not the other way around! No philosopher predicted quantum physics or general relativity. Ever since they had been discovered by scientists, philosophers have been scrambling to catch up, and have (quite frankly) failed to do so. Discoveries in neuro-science have made the philosophising on consciousness fashionable, but no philosopher has contributed to its understanding. Philosophers base their pontification on what science has revealed and even a great philosophers like Kant or Descartes can end up looking silly when their so-sure conclusions fall in the in the light of changing knowledge.

A philosopher - writing from his armchair for a reader also in an armchair - might write "Is it not immediately obvious the earth is still and the sun moves across the sky", and it is obvious. Had not science - not philosophy - determined the opposite is the case I could well believe the sun, not the earth was moving. Of course, when the truth is revealed philosophers will adapt to it!

So in what way is philosophy necessary to science? In the sense that philosophy is not the collected works of philosophers, but a 'state of mind', literally 'the love of truth'. In that sense, scientists are true 'philosophers'. An undergraduate course in philosophy contains very little chemistry and physics but lots about philosophers, so what does that qualify them to comment on? But a science undergraduate learns the necessity of clear thinking, the value of truth, the limitation and strengths of intuition and induction. Scientists have to be faithful 'lovers of truth', but philosophers do not have to be scientists.

I do however think that philosophers have a real role to play in the area of moral and ethics, an area that science is not able to contribute much if anything to. But in relation to science, Hawking is right. As far as science is concerned, philosophers are the ultimate kibbitzers.
Typist
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Re: Hawking contra Philosophy

Post by Typist »

Nice post!

I see philosophers as those who focus on the analytic process itself, while scientists are those who put the analytic process to practical use.

If this is true, then we shouldn't be expecting philosophers to be coming up with discoveries, unless it is in discovering ways the analytic process might be improved, discovering the limitations of the analytic process, and so on.
It would be easier for scientists to take philosophy seriously if philosophers would take time out to think about issues collaboratively (as scientists are accustomed) to rather than trying to score points off each other.
Imho, if scientists have this attitude, it demonstrates that they are not very sophisticated in their understanding of the analytic process. Perhaps they are using the analytic process they have inherited from philosophers somewhat blindly, without really reflecting upon it's nature?

If we wanted to know the nature of a chair, we would ask, what is the chair made of? If the chair is made of metal or wood, we would then expect the chair to be fixed, rigid. If the chair was a plastic bag filled with water, we would expect the chair's form to be fluid, adaptable.

That is, we use simple common sense, and assume the object will take on the characteristics of whatever physical substance the object is made of. Nothing tricky about this, right?

However, we seem to neglect to take this simple of an approach when considering the nature of the analytic process. This is perhaps a flaw in the philosophic personality, which seems to seek to create complications where ever possible.

The analytic process is of course made of thought. Division is a fundamental quality of thought. An easy example is the noun, which conceptually divides one piece of reality from everything else.

If the analytic process is made of a physical substance whose nature is fundamentally divisive, we should expect the analytic process to also be divisive. We should expect ideas to be conceptually divided from one another, and then put in to conflict.

Further, what are people made of? More precisely, what is "me" made of? "Me" is made of thought. Thus, because me is made of a substance that is divisive in nature, we should expect this "me" to divide itself from that "me" and then come in to conflict.

Imho, this failure to reflect simply upon the nature of what the analytic process is literally physically made of is an example of over thinking. We get so caught up in all the little details, that we fail to see simple fundamental facts which are essential to a full understanding.
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Rortabend
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Re: Hawking contra Philosophy

Post by Rortabend »

keithprosser2 wrote:Why are scientists dismissive of philosophy? I don't think they are. They are however dismissive of philosophers! It would be easier for scientists to take philosophy seriously if philosophers would take time out to think about issues collaboratively (as scientists are accustomed) to rather than trying to score points off each other. Should I pick up book by scientist A and scientist B is will not be a case of B showing where A is wrong. Philosophers discuss other philosophers, not issues.

And philosophy is the slave of science, not the other way around! No philosopher predicted quantum physics or general relativity. Ever since they had been discovered by scientists, philosophers have been scrambling to catch up, and have (quite frankly) failed to do so. Discoveries in neuro-science have made the philosophising on consciousness fashionable, but no philosopher has contributed to its understanding. Philosophers base their pontification on what science has revealed and even a great philosophers like Kant or Descartes can end up looking silly when their so-sure conclusions fall in the in the light of changing knowledge.

A philosopher - writing from his armchair for a reader also in an armchair - might write "Is it not immediately obvious the earth is still and the sun moves across the sky", and it is obvious. Had not science - not philosophy - determined the opposite is the case I could well believe the sun, not the earth was moving. Of course, when the truth is revealed philosophers will adapt to it!

So in what way is philosophy necessary to science? In the sense that philosophy is not the collected works of philosophers, but a 'state of mind', literally 'the love of truth'. In that sense, scientists are true 'philosophers'. An undergraduate course in philosophy contains very little chemistry and physics but lots about philosophers, so what does that qualify them to comment on? But a science undergraduate learns the necessity of clear thinking, the value of truth, the limitation and strengths of intuition and induction. Scientists have to be faithful 'lovers of truth', but philosophers do not have to be scientists.

I do however think that philosophers have a real role to play in the area of moral and ethics, an area that science is not able to contribute much if anything to. But in relation to science, Hawking is right. As far as science is concerned, philosophers are the ultimate kibbitzers.
I'd like to point out what's wrong with this post but I don't know where to start!
Impenitent
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Re: Hawking contra Philosophy

Post by Impenitent »

begging the question? where?

the billiard ball must move...

-Imp
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