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"Theoretical physics is not an autonomous science; it is subordinate to metaphysics..." 
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Post "Theoretical physics is not an autonomous science; it is subordinate to metaphysics..."
Quote:
The first question we should face is:
What is the aim of a physical theory?
To this question diverse answers have been made, but all of them may be reduced to two main principles:
"A physical theory," certain logicians have replied, "has for its object the explanation of a group of laws experimentally established."

"A physical theory," other thinkers have said, "is an abstract system whose aim is to summarize and classify logically a group of experimental laws without claiming to explain these laws...

Now these two questions — Does there exist a material reality distinct from sensible appearances? and What is the nature of reality? — do not have their source in experimental method, which is acquainted only with sensible appearances and can discover nothing beyond them. The resolution of these questions transcends the methods used by physics; it is the object of metaphysics.

Therefore, if the aim of physical theories is to explain experimental laws, theoretical physics is not an autonomous science; it is subordinate to metaphysics...

Now, to make physical theories depend on metaphysics is surely not the way to let them enjoy the privilege of universal consent."

Pierre Maurice Marie Duhem, translated by Philip P. Wiener (1991). The Aim and Structure of Physical Theory. Princeton University Press. p. 10. ISBN 069102524X.


We just added another scientist to the group. Has a PhD in chemistry 1999 from Penn State University.


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Sat Jan 11, 2014 1:44 pm
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Post Re: "Theoretical physics is not an autonomous science; it is subordinate to metaphysics..."
When you say you just added another scientist to our group. What group are you talking about? Those who believe physics isn't an "autonomous science"? Well count me in!
But in fact, does the opposite group, that which supports the idea that physics is free of philosophical underpinnings, have any valid support? I don't think anyone can argue that point without eventually realizing their mistake.

In any case, can you point me toward a field of intellectual inquiry that can justifiably be called an "autonomous science" by the definition you have given? That is to say, one that has no philosophical premise?
Every form of intellectual inquiry presupposes a model for the recollection and organization of evidence and the structuring and comparing of the resulting arguments. Every form of intellectual inquiry previously defines what constitutes "evidence" and the axiomatic rules by which this evidence and the resulting arguments can be evaluated to be either valid or invalid.

It isn't always explicitly, intelligently or deliberately done, but it must be done before any meaningful inquiry can be accomplished. If you have no way to form an inquiry, model an argument, or you are unsure as to what constitutes evidence for those arguments, at most all you are doing is randomly sampling thoughts and experiences without forming a coherent understanding in the process.

...Is the implication that physics is no better than, say, theology? That's not really a valid comparison, is it? Each has their field of inquiry, and each should be kept within the bounds of its field in order to remain valid models of inquiry. It's meaningless to apply theology as a model for explaining physical phenomena, just as it is meaningless to apply physics as a model for interpreting a specific religious text. If you do wish to apply a model to a new field of inquiry, you have to first prove that its premises validly allow it to ask meaningful questions and form reasonable answers within said field.

...Are you saying that physics is just philosophy? As I see it physics is to philosophy as calculus is to algebra. They're both based on the same consistent principles, and one is based on the other; but they have different purposes and one is better suited to explain certain things, because that's what it was made for. Is it possible there's a better way to inquire into the nature of reality? Certainly, but the only way we'll ever know if our current model is insufficient is if it's proven logically, or if our inquiry results in findings we can't adequately explain through the current model. In other words, let's keep using physics until we break it, and then ask why it broke.

...Is your point that physics shouldn't be used to inquire into morality or spirituality? If that's your argument, I definitely agree.



Last edited by VMLM on Sat Jan 11, 2014 8:12 pm, edited 2 times in total.



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Post Re: "Theoretical physics is not an autonomous science; it is subordinate to metaphysics..."
Quote:
Therefore, if the aim of physical theories is to explain experimental laws, theoretical physics is not an autonomous science; it is subordinate to metaphysics...


I've always thought that science was subordinate to philosophy. Or at least under the umbrella of philosophy. The philosophy of science.


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Post Re: "Theoretical physics is not an autonomous science; it is subordinate to metaphysics..."
the thread title

Theoretical physics is not an autonomous science; it is subordinate to metaphysics...

contains

Theoretical physics is subordinate to metaphysics...

from

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/metaphysics/

Quote:
It is not easy to say what metaphysics is. Ancient and Medieval philosophers might have said that metaphysics was, like chemistry or astrology, to be defined by its subject matter: metaphysics was the “science” that studied “being as such” or “the first causes of things” or “things that do not change.” It is no longer possible to define metaphysics that way, and for two reasons.


subordinate

Quote:
subordinate
adjective
adjective: subordinate
səˈbɔːdɪnət/

1.
lower in rank or position.
"his subordinate officers"
synonyms: lower-ranking, junior, lower, lesser, inferior, lowly, minor, supporting; More
second-fiddle
"she kept her distance from subordinate staff"
antonyms: superior, senior
of less or secondary importance.
"in adventure stories, character must be subordinate to action"
synonyms: secondary, lesser, minor, subsidiary, subservient, ancillary, auxiliary, attendant, peripheral, marginal, of little account/importance; More
second-class, second-rate, second-fiddle;
supplementary, accessory, additional, extra
"a subordinate rule"
antonyms: central, major, chief

noun
noun: subordinate; plural noun: subordinates
səˈbɔːdɪnət/

1.
a person under the authority or control of another within an organization.
"he was mild-mannered, especially with his subordinates"
synonyms: junior, assistant, second, second in command, number two, right-hand man/woman, deputy, aide, adjutant, subaltern, apprentice, underling, flunkey, minion, lackey, mate, inferior; More
informalsidekick, henchman, second fiddle, man/girl Friday
"the manager and his or her subordinate jointly review performance"
antonyms: superior, senior

verb
verb: subordinate; 3rd person present: subordinates; past tense: subordinated; past participle: subordinated; gerund or present participle: subordinating
səˈbɔːdɪneɪt/

1.
treat or regard as of lesser importance than something else.
"practical considerations were subordinated to political expediency"
make subservient to or dependent on something else.
"to define life would be to subordinate it to reason"

Origin



now theoretical physics

Quote:
Theoretical physics is a branch of physics which employs mathematical models and abstractions of physical objects and systems to rationalize, explain and predict natural phenomena.


you see how this thread title is frustrating.

it reads

Quote:
a branch of physics which employs mathematical models and abstractions of physical objects and systems to rationalize, explain and predict natural phenomena is lower in rank or position than metaphysics, It is not easy to say what metaphysics is.


subordinate in which mind? subordinate is a very onerous concept, a very "christian" word, military, authoritarian, it makes me think of monarchs, priesthoods and submission to the tyranny of monied fools.

but i must say i am looking forward to the initial release of the group stahwre.



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Post Re: "Theoretical physics is not an autonomous science; it is subordinate to metaphysics..."
Quote:
What is the aim of a physical theory? To this question diverse answers have been made, but all of them may be reduced to two main principles:
"A physical theory," certain logicians have replied, "has for its object the explanation of a group of laws experimentally established."
"A physical theory," other thinkers have said, "is an abstract system whose aim is to summarize and classify logically a group of experimental laws without claiming to explain these laws...

Wrong - the aim of physics is not to explain, summarize, or classify a group of "laws"! Take the theory called the standard model of particle physics - it is a model that does not explain all experimental results and is subject to change; it is not a group of laws.

A bit of context: the date of the translation up top is misleading, the book was actually written in 1906.

I'm also looking forward to the report from stahwre's group, but with waning enthusiasm. If this thread is any example - is this "physics is subordinate to metaphysics" really supposed to be a compelling argument?



Last edited by LanDroid on Sun Jan 12, 2014 7:27 am, edited 1 time in total.



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Post Re: "Theoretical physics is not an autonomous science; it is subordinate to metaphysics..."
Oh, so this is an actual group, and you're going to publish something. Sorry for assuming you where using the expression, "our group" metaphorically.
That actually gives this whole thread a different meaning. That's great news stahrwe. I'll be on the lookout for your publication. Best of luck.

Can I ask what the purpose of the group is, and on what they're reporting?



Last edited by VMLM on Mon Jan 13, 2014 1:58 pm, edited 4 times in total.



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Post Re: "Theoretical physics is not an autonomous science; it is subordinate to metaphysics..."
While this post included an update on the group it is not related to the focus of the group per se.


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Post Re: "Theoretical physics is not an autonomous science; it is subordinate to metaphysics..."
The group will show how atheist celebrities violate the fundamental principles of logic.


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Post Re: "Theoretical physics is not an autonomous science; it is subordinate to metaphysics..."
LanDroid wrote:
Quote:
What is the aim of a physical theory? To this question diverse answers have been made, but all of them may be reduced to two main principles:
"A physical theory," certain logicians have replied, "has for its object the explanation of a group of laws experimentally established."
"A physical theory," other thinkers have said, "is an abstract system whose aim is to summarize and classify logically a group of experimental laws without claiming to explain these laws...

Wrong - the aim of physics is not to explain, summarize, or classify a group of "laws"! Take the theory called the standard model of particle physics - it is a model that does not explain all experimental results and is subject to change; it is not a group of laws.

A bit of context: the date of the translation up top is misleading, the book was actually written in 1906.

I'm also looking forward to the report from stahwre's group, but with waning enthusiasm. If this thread is any example - is this "physics is subordinate to metaphysics" really supposed to be a compelling argument?


I hate to admit it, but I agree with nearly everything said above.
I'd say to make the distinction clear, quantum physics, in my opinion. toes the line considerably when speaking of philosophy and metaphysics. It's an overt admission by several prominent theoretical physicists.
QP is also highly counter intuitive. "Logic" essentially goes out of the window in the QP realm.

"Atheist Celebrities" is a good way of putting it.

Because of the recent flood of books which implicitly promote the worldview of atheism, atheism itself is in fashion for the moment. More accurately, it is the admissions taken from poll data that claim people are 1) steering away from organized religion, 2) are not traditionally religious, and 3) no longer wish to identify with any particular mainstream religion.This is not the same as saying people are professing Atheism per se.
Atheist war mongrels use these data to claim that the population is becoming more atheistic. We should not be distracted by these sorts of pathetic argumentative tactics.



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Post Re: "Theoretical physics is not an autonomous science; it is subordinate to metaphysics..."
Interbane wrote:
Quote:
Therefore, if the aim of physical theories is to explain experimental laws, theoretical physics is not an autonomous science; it is subordinate to metaphysics...


I've always thought that science was subordinate to philosophy. Or at least under the umbrella of philosophy. The philosophy of science.



Here's my response to the above:

Quote:
subordinate in which mind? subordinate is a very onerous concept, a very "christian" word, military, authoritarian, it makes me think of monarchs, priesthoods and submission to the tyranny of monied fools.



What's my point here, you ask?

Notice how the troll thanked you for your post, demonstrating appreciation for your thoughts on how you believe science is "subordinate" to philosophy minus the accusation that the very word itself is "very christian" that makes him think of priesthoods and submission to tyranny.
The word "subordinate" here is okay.
But then again, you aren't "infected" with Christianity.

When Stawrhe uses the word, out comes the bias in the vomitous implicit accusation that Stawrhe is using the word in a "very christian" manner.

Lesson learned here:
Let's attack the person whenever we get the chance.

This is great stuff.



Sun Jan 12, 2014 1:16 pm
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Post Re: "Theoretical physics is not an autonomous science; it is subordinate to metaphysics..."
youkrst wrote:
the thread title

Theoretical physics is not an autonomous science; it is subordinate to metaphysics...

contains

Theoretical physics is subordinate to metaphysics...

from

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/metaphysics/

Quote:
It is not easy to say what metaphysics is. Ancient and Medieval philosophers might have said that metaphysics was, like chemistry or astrology, to be defined by its subject matter: metaphysics was the “science” that studied “being as such” or “the first causes of things” or “things that do not change.” It is no longer possible to define metaphysics that way, and for two reasons.


subordinate

Quote:
subordinate
adjective
adjective: subordinate
səˈbɔːdɪnət/

1.
lower in rank or position.
"his subordinate officers"
synonyms: lower-ranking, junior, lower, lesser, inferior, lowly, minor, supporting; More
second-fiddle
"she kept her distance from subordinate staff"
antonyms: superior, senior
of less or secondary importance.
"in adventure stories, character must be subordinate to action"
synonyms: secondary, lesser, minor, subsidiary, subservient, ancillary, auxiliary, attendant, peripheral, marginal, of little account/importance; More
second-class, second-rate, second-fiddle;
supplementary, accessory, additional, extra
"a subordinate rule"
antonyms: central, major, chief

noun
noun: subordinate; plural noun: subordinates
səˈbɔːdɪnət/

1.
a person under the authority or control of another within an organization.
"he was mild-mannered, especially with his subordinates"
synonyms: junior, assistant, second, second in command, number two, right-hand man/woman, deputy, aide, adjutant, subaltern, apprentice, underling, flunkey, minion, lackey, mate, inferior; More
informalsidekick, henchman, second fiddle, man/girl Friday
"the manager and his or her subordinate jointly review performance"
antonyms: superior, senior

verb
verb: subordinate; 3rd person present: subordinates; past tense: subordinated; past participle: subordinated; gerund or present participle: subordinating
səˈbɔːdɪneɪt/

1.
treat or regard as of lesser importance than something else.
"practical considerations were subordinated to political expediency"
make subservient to or dependent on something else.
"to define life would be to subordinate it to reason"

Origin



now theoretical physics

Quote:
Theoretical physics is a branch of physics which employs mathematical models and abstractions of physical objects and systems to rationalize, explain and predict natural phenomena.


you see how this thread title is frustrating.

it reads

Quote:
a branch of physics which employs mathematical models and abstractions of physical objects and systems to rationalize, explain and predict natural phenomena is lower in rank or position than metaphysics, It is not easy to say what metaphysics is.


subordinate in which mind? subordinate is a very onerous concept, a very "christian" word, military, authoritarian, it makes me think of monarchs, priesthoods and submission to the tyranny of monied fools.

but i must say i am looking forward to the initial release of the group stahwre.


I've thanked this post for its sheer entertainment value.
It was used as a billy club to hit "Christianity" on its head.

And let's not forget how the word "subordinate" sounds so "christian."

Here is the etymology of subordinate:




Quote:
mid-15c., "having an inferior rank," from Medieval Latin subordinatus "placed in a lower order, made subject," past participle of subordinare "place in a lower order," from Latin sub "under" (see sub-) + ordinare "arrange, set in order" (see ordain). Related: Subordinance; subordinant; subordinately. For "of or pertaining to the classificatory rank of a suborder," subordinal (1870) is used.
subordinate (v.) Look up subordinate at Dictionary.com
"to bring into a subordinate position to something else, to make of less value, to make auxiliary or dependent," 1590s, from Medieval Latin subordinatus (see subordinate (adj.)). Related: Subordinated; subordinating.
subordinate (n.) Look up subordinate at Dictionary.com
"one inferior in power, rank, office, etc.," 1630s, from subordinate (adj.).



Yes indeed! No one is or has been subordinate to anyone else in secular regimes!
The very word belongs to religion and medieval religious empires!
Except of course when it's used by a non believer!!


You can't make this kind of stuff up!



Sun Jan 12, 2014 1:28 pm
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Post Re: "Theoretical physics is not an autonomous science; it is subordinate to metaphysics..."
After reading a little bit into the philosophy of science, I have to thank you, stahrwe, for that quote from Pierre Duhem. I wish I had more solid bibliography on him right now. Alas I'm at home, not near a library where I can look into him.

When I read this phrase:
Quote:
Therefore, if the aim of physical theories is to explain experimental laws, theoretical physics is not an autonomous science; it is subordinate to metaphysics...

My gut reaction, much like ant's and LanDroid's, was to interpret this as an erred definition of what physics is. Why? Because it has been inculcated into me that physical theories are not laws, since they must be, by definition, temporary and falsifiable.
However, in the context of what is being discussed, I understood the phrase to be referring not to physical theories, but to the nature of theoretical physics itself. I came to rationalize the phrase to mean that theoretical physics was a study of natural laws (the "real" laws that exist independently of our understanding and which dictate the physical world), which it attempts to explain through mathematical models. To me this made sense.
To be more clear: What Duhem discusses isn't the validity of any single theoretical model, such as relativity or quantum mechanics, but the validity of the scientific method through which these models were conceived and validated in the first place.
A reading of Duhem's Wikipedia page will confirm that this interpretation is probably correct. I say probably because Wikipedia isn't entirely trustworthy as a source, and since this is the only thing I've read, my understanding is probably flawed.

In any case, this and Interbane's follow up made me curious about the Philosophy of Science. As well as existing criticism for the scientific method. Criticism 1, Critcism 2.

I already "knew" this. It had been hinted throughout my schooling that there were problems with the scientific method, that there were philosophical underpinnings for the practice of science and that, like any other intellectual pursuit, the practice of science isn't free of subjectivity. I have to admit I'd never actually read the commentary on these problems. The question persisted in the back of my mind but never really bothered me, since it doesn't seem very practical to worry about it.

To me it makes sense to subordinate science, and consequently theoretical physics, to philosophy. It makes sense because it's important to understand the subjective philosophical vantage point from which you are doing science. Failure to understand this vantage point doesn't mean it doesn't exist, it just means you are (more) ignorant of the consequences and presuppositions of your argument, and of the model of inquiry through which you are formulating your argument. (There's an underlying discussion here regarding the practicality of recursively contemplating the study of the study of the natural world, as opposed simply to doing science without worrying so much about the metaphysical.)

I don't think this critique of science invalidates scientific inquiry. Since an important aspect of scientific theory is its insistence on being falsifiable, the philosophy of science already admits that any explanation given through scientific inquiry is fundamentally divorced from the reality which it explains.
It does, however, question the value of the definition and practice of the scientific method as it exists, and whether or not it must be improved, and how.

These are deeply important questions... that none of us here could adequately answer without reading the extensive associated knowledge, body of discussion and contemporary arguments. It's still very interesting... and worth keeping an eye on and discussing.



Last edited by VMLM on Mon Jan 13, 2014 1:39 pm, edited 9 times in total.



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Post Re: "Theoretical physics is not an autonomous science; it is subordinate to metaphysics..."
VMLM:
Great thoughts there.

I agree with the statement (paraphrasing) subjectivity can not be divorced from the methods of science.
Eyes do not see. PEOPLE see.



In Kuhnian paradigm science the practicing community essentially has released itself from consistent falsification and has ossified and incubated itself from rigorous self examination and critique.
Only when science has begun to recognize its failure to explain anomalies that resist puzzle solving attempts by means of the current conceptual dogmas (Kuhn would call such dogmas nearly a necessary evil) does the practice of falsification again become a vital aspect of science.

A counter to the aforementioned claim might be stated in the following manner"
"But that's what peer review prevents. Hypothesis subjected to peer review is what keeps science "honest."

That is not entirely true.
Science is taught by scientists that adhere to the current paradigm and by the textbooks authored to teach what the paradigm requires to keep it "moving forward".
Here we have the logical fallacy "Circular Reasoning" in play:

Quote:
Circular reasoning and the problem of induction

Joel Feinberg and Russ Shafer-Landau note that "using the scientific method to judge the scientific method is circular reasoning". Scientists attempt to discover the laws of nature and to predict what will happen in the future, based on those laws. However, per David Hume's problem of induction, science cannot be proven inductively by empirical evidence, and thus science cannot be proven scientifically. An appeal to a principle of the uniformity of nature would be required to deductively necessitate the continued accuracy of predictions based on laws that have only succeeded in generalizing past observations. But as Bertrand Russell observed, "The method of 'postulating' what we want has many advantages; they are the same as the advantages of theft over honest toil".[7]


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circular_reasoning

The anomaly "dark matter" and "dark energy" may be the opening stages of a recognized need to once again seriously question our understanding of laws we have proclaimed to be Laws (cap "L") of Nature.

That is why I am a scientific skeptic in the true sense. I don't doubt the sun will come up in the morning, my hand will be burned if I stick it in hot water, I'll break my neck if I jump off a building, or my iPhone is super! What I am skeptical of is these outlandish claims that science is our oracle of great Truths.

Science as an explanatory tool and technological maker is to be praised.
Science as a consultant for purpose and meaning in a vast cosmos that does not conform or bend to our explanatory demands for absolute Laws and Truths is ultimately impotent.


I hope I was clear enough to understand.

Thanks



Mon Jan 13, 2014 1:20 pm
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Post Re: "Theoretical physics is not an autonomous science; it is subordinate to metaphysics..."
stahrwe wrote:
While this post included an update on the group it is not related to the focus of the group per se.



When will the group post its first discussion point.
It seems like this has been going on forever.



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Post Re: "Theoretical physics is not an autonomous science; it is subordinate to metaphysics..."
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That is why I am a scientific skeptic in the true sense. I don't doubt the sun will come up in the morning, my hand will be burned if I stick it in hot water, I'll break my neck if I jump off a building, or my iPhone is super! What I am skeptical of is these outlandish claims that science is our oracle of great Truths.


Perhaps your expectations were too high to begin with? I think most of us grow up under the assumption that figuring out what is true is an easy task. As it turns out, figuring out what is true is a devilishly difficult task. Which is why we need to be skeptical of every 'source' of the truth. With that said, the most abundant(if provisional) truths have been discovered by science. I'd say there has been tremendous progress in philosophy, but the progress is small when compared to science. What other enterprise has given us a comparable amount of knowledge?

If there is anything that should be labeled an oracle, science comes the closest. Such a claim isn't outlandish, even if it's exaggerated.


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In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.” - Douglas Adams


Mon Jan 13, 2014 5:16 pm
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