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Ch. 1 - The Mystery of Being 
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Mystery of Being
Suzanne wrote:
I can understand the statement “philosophy is dead” in regard to theories.

Actually, I disagree with the claim that physics somehow supplants philosophy. Even with modern physics, philosophy can provide insight into the world, just as biology, history, linguistics, and other areas of study can. Even if physics is a theory of everything, different areas of study with a different focus and perspective can still be valuable.

Some theoretical particle physicists tend to believe in the intrinsic superiority of physics over other areas of knowledge, but such people are often the ones who write books for a general audience. That arrogance isn't shared by most physicists.



Sat Oct 30, 2010 1:20 am
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Mystery of Being
I was looking for reviews from scientists, here's a critical review from Peter Woit, author of "Not Even Wrong: The Failure of String Theory and the Search for Unity in Physical Law"

It includes links to some other reviews

http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/?p=3141



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Sun Oct 31, 2010 10:37 am
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Mystery of Being
I like this book. I have finished reading it, and the good thing about it is that it provides a foundation for philosophical debate on empirical grounds, informed by the very latest astrophysics. It is difficult to refute any of Hawking's arguments, but then it is difficult to refute arguments about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, which is what some of his claims remind me of. He makes many quite silly comments which seem just slapdash and provocative. In this chapter, the worst comments are that "philosophy is dead" and that "as is well known one cannot show the whole of the earth's surface on a single map." I get the impression that these sort of stupid remarks are just trolling for debate, and that is probably a good thing. His question, why is there something rather than nothing?, was considered at length by Martin Heidegger in An Introduction to Metaphysics. However I suspect that the cultural parameters that Heidegger sees as enframing this question would have quite bewildered Hawking, and everyone else like him who has been indoctrinated into the religious view that there is no meaning outside science.



Mon Nov 01, 2010 5:08 am
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Mystery of Being
I think Hawking (short for Hawking and Mlodinow) makes a good case for "model-dependent realism" (p. 7), but don't you suspect that even he is really trying to explain what the underlying reality is? When you talk about quarks and other particles, for example, aren't scientists making an implicit claim that to the best of their knowledge, these things actually exist and are not just a convenient mathematical model?

Incidentally, it seems like there are some issues that a philosopher of science may be useful in shedding some light on, despite the claim that "philosophy is dead" (and in fact isn't he doing philosophy here?) Or does he exclude philosophy of science from his condemnation?



Mon Nov 01, 2010 4:56 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Mystery of Being
Robert Tulip wrote:
In this chapter, the worst comments are that "philosophy is dead" and that "as is well known one cannot show the whole of the earth's surface on a single map."

While I share your distaste of the first comment, the second comment corresponds to a rigorous statement in the mathematical branch of topology. However, it's entirely possible that Hawking doesn't provide enough context to make that statement comprensible to someone who hasn't heard it before.
Dexter wrote:
When you talk about quarks and other particles, for example, aren't scientists making an implicit claim that to the best of their knowledge, these things actually exist and are not just a convenient mathematical model?\

Actually, that's not clear. Even if you have a mathematical theory that accurately predicts experimental results, you can't know whether the components of that model correspond to real physical entities. While such predictions are evidence supporting the theory, physicists still argue about what the mathematics means.



Mon Nov 01, 2010 10:53 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Mystery of Being
JulianTheApostate wrote:
Robert Tulip wrote:
In this chapter, the worst comments are that "philosophy is dead" and that "as is well known one cannot show the whole of the earth's surface on a single map."

While I share your distaste of the first comment, the second comment corresponds to a rigorous statement in the mathematical branch of topology. However, it's entirely possible that Hawking doesn't provide enough context to make that statement comprensible to someone who hasn't heard it before.
Thanks Julian. The suggestion is that we cannot have a two dimensional representation of a sphere. Yes there are some projections that chop off the poles, and all projections involve distortion, but there are projections that show all parts of the globe, refuting Hawking's sloppy statement. Wiki on projections is at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Map_projection
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Dexter wrote:
When you talk about quarks and other particles, for example, aren't scientists making an implicit claim that to the best of their knowledge, these things actually exist and are not just a convenient mathematical model?\

Actually, that's not clear. Even if you have a mathematical theory that accurately predicts experimental results, you can't know whether the components of that model correspond to real physical entities. While such predictions are evidence supporting the theory, physicists still argue about what the mathematics means.
Here we zero in on the philosophical and epistemological flaws in the mainstream modern logic of physics as ably articulated by Hawking. We have to assume the universe exists. This assumption provides an axiomatic foundation for all knowledge. It is absurd to say we can't know that components of a model correspond to real entities when these entities are as obvious as planets and stars, in their features that are abundantly verified by consistency with observation.



Tue Nov 02, 2010 2:18 am
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Mystery of Being
JulianTheApostate wrote:
Dexter wrote:
When you talk about quarks and other particles, for example, aren't scientists making an implicit claim that to the best of their knowledge, these things actually exist and are not just a convenient mathematical model?\

Actually, that's not clear. Even if you have a mathematical theory that accurately predicts experimental results, you can't know whether the components of that model correspond to real physical entities. While such predictions are evidence supporting the theory, physicists still argue about what the mathematics means.


Maybe this is my naivete, and Hawking is trying to disabuse me of it, but although we can't know that a model corresponds to reality, it still seems like the goal of a physical theory is to try to infer the best we can something about an objective reality, and some modern theories do a better job than discarded ones. Is Hawking's claim that there really are other universes "out there" in some sense? If not, then what is he talking about? Is he just putting a poetic spin on some mathematical equations?



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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Mystery of Being
Everyone might want to take a look at this article--
http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/20 ... re-psychic

Then consider it in relation to multiple futures and histories. This does make sense in this relation.



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Fri Nov 12, 2010 11:39 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Mystery of Being
Psychic powers would presume that the human mind can sense things before they happen without any preceding indicators, which I find to be baloney.

However, after giving a few dollars to a bum, I was in line a a gas station to buy soda and the woman in front of me bought some lottery tickets. Suddenly I had an overwhelming strange exciting feeling that filled me like never before and I bought one lottery ticket which ended up winning $5565 for 5 out of 6 numbers. (I had 22 instead of 44 - I could have won $10M as no one won the jackpot.) I contributed this the God (1 in 87,000 chance of winning 5 out of 6). Perhaps Christians' realities\Universes are watched over by a creator?

Image

On 10/10/10, my grandmother was in the hospital doing much better than she had all week. She was eating, drinking, talking and laughing. The pastor that Sunday was about to play ball with his kids when he says something came over him and he instead drove to the hospital to pray with my grandmother. Usually my grandmother prayed for "patience", but this time she prayed with the pastor that God would take the pain away. 2 hours later she had a massive heart attack and died.

Do we create our own Universe? Do people en mass create a Universe/reality by all believing in something?



Sat Nov 13, 2010 12:33 am
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Mystery of Being
WONK wrote:
Everyone might want to take a look at this article--
http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/20 ... re-psychic

Then consider it in relation to multiple futures and histories. This does make sense in this relation.


Until we see some replication of this study, I think the proper response is skepticism.



Sat Nov 13, 2010 3:46 am
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Mystery of Being
Given Hawking's statement about philosophy, I thought this was an interesting description of philosophy from Peter Hacker, a Wittgenstein expert who is apparently a critic of neuroscience:

Quote:
“Philosophy does not contribute to our knowledge of the world we live in after the manner of any of the natural sciences. You can ask any scientist to show you the achievements of science over the past millennium, and they have much to show: libraries full of well-established facts and well-confirmed theories. If you ask a philosopher to produce a handbook of well-established and unchallengeable philosophical truths, there’s nothing to show. I think that is because philosophy is not a quest for knowledge about the world, but rather a quest for understanding the conceptual scheme in terms of which we conceive of the knowledge we achieve about the world. One of the rewards of doing philosophy is a clearer understanding of the way we think about ourselves and about the world we live in, not fresh facts about reality.”


http://www.philosophypress.co.uk/?p=1583



Tue Nov 16, 2010 7:58 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Mystery of Being
Robert Tulip wrote:
Here we zero in on the philosophical and epistemological flaws in the mainstream modern logic of physics as ably articulated by Hawking. We have to assume the universe exists. This assumption provides an axiomatic foundation for all knowledge. It is absurd to say we can't know that components of a model correspond to real entities when these entities are as obvious as planets and stars, in their features that are abundantly verified by consistency with observation.

When considering a scientific theory, there are two questions you can ask. Does the theory accurately predict experimental results? What does the theory mean; for example, are the components of the theory real? It's entirely possible for a theory to be predictive even though its components are dubious.

Ptolemaic Astronomy is a good example of that. Its ideas seem rather ridiculous to anyone alive today, who believe that the Earth revolves around the sun. However, it did a pretty good job of predicting the movement of planets and the timing of eclipses.



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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Mystery of Being
Dexter wrote:
Until we see some replication of this study, I think the proper response is skepticism.


What I was pointing out isn't if the study is correct but that the study mimics the alternate histories of quantum mechanics. It reflects the idea that the oddness of quantum might not be so odd. For example: The uncertainty principle is not unique to quantum but goes through most mathematics but is called something else in various disciplines. You can even get it with driving a car. You can't know exactly your speed or location in the road when driving. When you glance down to the speedometer you have taken your eyes off the road and will travel up to hundreds of feet before you can look up and find out your location again.

Robert Tulip wrote:
but there are projections that show all parts of the globe


Yes but every projection produces distortions and it is impossible to get a non-distorted 2-d map of a sphere.



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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Mystery of Being
I noticed that Brian Greene is coming out with his own "multiverse" book:
http://www.amazon.com/Hidden-Reality-Pa ... N014EEF6D6

I would like to hear some of the scientist dissenters on this view, I found a few comments in looking for reviews of Hawking. I guess essentially the criticism is that, at this point (and possibly forever) it is all unfalsifiable speculation.



Last edited by Dexter on Sat Nov 27, 2010 4:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Mystery of Being
Dexter wrote:
I would like to hear some of the scientist dissenters on this view, I found a few comments in looking for reviews of Hawking. I guess essentially the criticism is that, at this point (and possibly forever) it is all unfalsifiable speculation.


The answer is yes and no as speculation. The problem is how you define proving. Physicists are getting to the point in understanding that what is uncertain is just as important as what is. M-theory and even String theory will possibly always have big unknowns, possibly bigger unknowns than what is known. But just because you don't have an exact answer doesn't mean that they are incorrect. Consider your typical CSI TV show. You find someone with a bullet hole in them and dead. After investigating the possibilities you can give the result that the person was shot by someone. You might not have a who or why--you might even have to leave in the possibility that the person was shot by an animal or a robot. If you want the level of proof that is frequently used in mathematics and science you will never be able to say that another person shot the dead one but you have to have a logical starting point and in this case M-theory is holding this starting point open. Because you have M-theory holding open the door to understanding the universe, you are left with a whole set of options and things to look for and consider. Just like in the CSI show, you start investigating the people who knew the dead person because of the logical assumption that a person was doing the shooting. M-theory puts you on the track in finding answers that without it you are just left with a dead person and no where to go. It is very possible that at some future time M-theory will be replaced but at this monent in the universe nothing else is there to frame the question on what to look for next but M-theory.



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