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Thread: Why are some physicists so bad at philosophy?

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    Why are some physicists so bad at philosophy?

    Interesting blog post here.

    Some physicists are clueless about philosophical issues and make nonsensical statements which an undergrad student in PHIL 101 can expose.

    Doing science does require some capability but some "scientists" should be more careful when making pronouncements when it comes to issues like the nature of consciousness (consciousness is reducible to material processes) or cosmology (something can come from nothing - for e.g. the laws of physics ) Better yet, to be taken seriously, they should go through an undergraduate philosophy course after a PhD in physics if they choose to run their mouths on such issues.

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    Re: Why are some physicists so bad at philosophy?

    Quote Originally Posted by wundermonk View Post
    Interesting blog post here.

    Some physicists are clueless about philosophical issues and make nonsensical statements which an undergrad student in PHIL 101 can expose.

    Doing science does require some capability but some "scientists" should be more careful when making pronouncements when it comes to issues like the nature of consciousness (consciousness is reducible to material processes) or cosmology (something can come from nothing - for e.g. the laws of physics ) Better yet, to be taken seriously, they should go through an undergraduate philosophy course after a PhD in physics if they choose to run their mouths on such issues.
    Really? Let us reverse positions and see if it works.

    Some philosophers are clueless about scientific issues and make nonsensical statements which an undergrad student in Science 101 can expose.

    Doing philosophy does require some capability but some "philosophers" should be more careful when making pronouncements when it comes to issues like the nature of consciousness or cosmology. Better yet, to be taken seriously, they should go through an undergraduate science course after a PhD in philosophy if they choose to run their mouths on such issues.

    Yes, it works the other way too.
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    Re: Why are some physicists so bad at philosophy?

    O yes, Really! Except we r talking about plato's philosophy 101 or ishwar krishana's theology 101 or some other theology. I am sure many physicists have studied why plato objected to creatio ex nihilo, but we know lot more now than plato did...but apparantly not everbody is convinced. Fortunately they can only go up to online forums to vent their frustation.

    Btw, there r lot of philosophy Phds too in top universities, but they probably studied more science so as not to bring up 2000 year old arguments to modern academics.
    Last edited by satay; 15 April 2013 at 02:37 PM.
    Why are you unhappy? Because 99.9 per cent Of everything you think, And of everything you do, Is for yourself —And there isn't one

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    Re: Why are some physicists so bad at philosophy?

    Would anyone like to actually read through the linked blog post and then discuss the substantive points within it?

    Here, let me make it easier for the patience and click-challenged:

    Quote Originally Posted by Physicist contradicting himself within the space of a sentence
    But given the laws of physics, it turns out that something can come from nothing.
    Does anyone care to defend this and argue that the above statement is not a contradiction?

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    Re: Why are some physicists so bad at philosophy?

    Why do physicists make grand pronouncements about philosophy? Because we are doctors of philosophy, of course! I say this mostly tongue-in-cheek, but the fact is that doing any kind of science results in a good deal of training in logical reasoning. We may not know all the philosophical terminologies or have read the works of Voltaire, but I think we're able to at least reason with the skill of an amateur philosopher.

    Quote Originally Posted by wundermonk View Post
    Would anyone like to actually read through the linked blog post and then discuss the substantive points within it?

    Here, let me make it easier for the patience and click-challenged:



    Does anyone care to defend this and argue that the above statement is not a contradiction?
    I did read the blog post. With all due respect Wundermonk, I was dismayed to see that the poster spoke highly of William Lane Craig, who is a Christian philosopher and thus not someone we Hindus want to take on as a role model. But it was interesting nonetheless.

    Defending the statement is difficult because I'm not an atheist in the slightest. But strictly speaking I'd agree with the statement that physics allows for a universe from nothing. In this context I'd have to say that "nothing" excludes Brahman itself, who I'd envison serves as a sort of foundation or scaffolding for the universe. But that's not saying much, and I like to think that Hinduism gives Brahman greater attributes than this. The laws of physics are formalisms that we invent to give the universe a sort of consistency. But they aren't a thing in their own right. I don't know that the existence of these laws alone is enough to say that science requires the universe to have a Creator.

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    Re: Why are some physicists so bad at philosophy?

    Quote Originally Posted by sanjaya View Post
    I did read the blog post. With all due respect Wundermonk, I was dismayed to see that the poster spoke highly of William Lane Craig, who is a Christian philosopher and thus not someone we Hindus want to take on as a role model. But it was interesting nonetheless.
    WLC practises sophistry of the worst kind. Even though I personally dislike his argumentation, there are certain areas where Hindu philosophy is going to overlap with Xian philosophy simply because both are of a theistic nature. So, they are not mutually exclusive in every respect.

    The reason why I linked to that blog post is simply because the Xian philosophers are much better organized and much more articulate than Hindu philosophers (are there any who are visible and write passionately about the Hindu POV to a general audience? I am not aware of any) when it comes to issues surrounding philosophy and theology.

    But strictly speaking I'd agree with the statement that physics allows for a universe from nothing. In this context I'd have to say that "nothing" excludes Brahman itself, who I'd envison serves as a sort of foundation or scaffolding for the universe. But that's not saying much, and I like to think that Hinduism gives Brahman greater attributes than this. The laws of physics are formalisms that we invent to give the universe a sort of consistency. But they aren't a thing in their own right. I don't know that the existence of these laws alone is enough to say that science requires the universe to have a Creator.
    This is where the physicist needs to be very careful about her choice of words. If Brahman alone existed "prior" to creation, then creation is not from nothing. If the laws of physics alone existed "prior" to creation, then creation is not from nothing. The laws (I would like to know what these laws are - perhaps you are in a good position to let me know what equations represent these laws) have many objective referents and these are not nothing unless under the pain of having these laws refer to non-existent things.

    So, could you provide some details of what you meant by saying physics allows for a universe from nothing? What is this nothing? Is it the absence of space/time or is it space with no air, i.e. is it a vacuum? Did the laws of physics "cause" the Big Bang or did the laws of physics begin to exist along with the universe? In which case, the laws of physics can not be conceived as a cause of the universe.

    Also, how can the universe "begin" to exist? For something to "begin" to exist, what is necessary is antecedent non-existence. So, if time did NOT exist before the BB, in what meaningful way did the universe "begin" to exist? If you accept this definition of "beginning" to exist, would you agree that time itself can not "begin" to exist?

    Thank you!

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    Re: Why are some physicists so bad at philosophy?

    Quote Originally Posted by wundermonk View Post
    Did the laws of physics "cause" the Big Bang or did the laws of physics begin to exist along with the universe? In which case, the laws of physics can not be conceived as a cause of the universe.
    +1. I think that besides being careful, schools teachers should also give some ideas of probabilities and problems in such theories.For e.g. the theory on life having come from matter is taught as if it is such an obvious thing in schools.

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