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. . . I could imagine nothing (or so I thought then -- I grappled since with limited imagination) and I could imagine the world around me, and I could imagine time, endless time and a beginning. My mind thought ot infinity and its boundary in visual terms as a vast expanding sphere, and its beginnning, before the expansion, I imagined ever smaller, smaller, smaller and so small that it almost wasn't there. Why is there something (this world) rather than nothing (not this world)? When did it begin?

Imagination of an expanse is not imagination of nothing. An empty expanse is not nothing. An unbounded empty expanse is not nothing. (Newton took that very definite thing to be the one thing existing with God before the miraculous creation of the material world by God; such a pre-creation pair would not be nothing.) The universe contracted into a single point would not be nothing. And in general relativity, such a world in past time has mass-energy (a lot!).*

A child asking himself "What would it be like if there were nothing?" and meaning really, in exact terms, "What would it be like if there were nothing but void?" is not asking the former question. It is a further, more "advanced" philosophy question, of course, to ask "Why is there something, rather than nothing [meaning truly nothing]?".

Imagination of the passage of time is not possible without the tick-tock of consciousness and indeed the wondering, wondrous child. May the wonder never cease. Happy Birthday, William.

Stephen

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In indeterministic QM there is no identity. In de Broglie-Bohm deBB like QM theories [deterministic] the particles involved are those of classical mechanics [may have to add the work of Gregory S. Duane to make that point clear].

Don't buy the many myths describing quantum mechanics - if it sounds like BS you are most likely hearing a convoluted explanation from indeterminism lacking identity and causality and not the whole story.

Dennis

Why are the predictions so accurate and on point?

Why does your computer work as advertised?

Why do atomic clocks keep such good time?

Ba'al Chatzaf

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I stepped in here only to deal with my own stepped-on toes, with regard to the vacuous and pretentious question "Why is there something rather than nothing?"

Here is the standard O'ist reply to this question -- a reply that has also been given by atheists since the 18th century, in response the the First Cause Argument for the existence of God:

Why is there something rather than nothing? The why, in this context, asks for a causal explanation of existence, i.e.: What caused existence to exist? But a cause -- the what -- must first exist itself before it can cause anything.

The question is therefore nonsensical. It commits what O'ists call "the fallacy of the stolen concept." In other words, the concept cause presupposes the concept existence, so to ask for a cause of existence is to put the cart before the horse.

I would like to find that jerk or jerks who fucked me up but good at five, then, George, because I have been cursed by the vacuous and pretentious questions since.

Seriously, let me take this slowly so that I understand the grave epistemological blunder I may have made at age five and which may have impeded my understanding since.

Think of that five year old, George, and see if you can find the words to get him back on track with his inquiries.

Essentially the same point I made is illustrated by an old philosophy joke:

After listening to a lecture on Descartes and the problem of solipsism, a perplexed student asked the professor, "Do I really exist?"

The professor replied, "Who wants to know?"

:rolleyes:

Ghs

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I don't know what your comment is supposed to mean. If you mean a cosmology that is somehow derived from A is A, then no such cosmology exists or, with the possible exception of some 19th century absolute idealists, has ever been attempted. But if you mean a cosmology that is consistent with the Law of Identity, then any counter-cosmology is palpably incoherent. Indeed, no such theory can even be coherently stated or defended, for if a proposition can be both true and false at the same time and in the same respect, then no proposition can be demonstrated or even shown to be probable. Similarly, if a theory can supposedly mean x and non-X at the same time and in the same respect, then that theory cannot even be coherently formulated. The Law of Identity is a necessary presupposition of intelligibility. I don't think it is unreasonable to demand that physicists make sense. If they claim exemption from this fundamental requirement, then they fall into the same categorary as theologians who prattle on about the "mysteries" of the Trinity that supposedly transcend the rudimentary laws of logic. Ghs
My problem is with an over-abundance of what can only be described as philosophical arrogance. The universe is not compelled to comply with our common sense, and in fact demonstrably does not in many instances.
I said nothing about "common sense." I was talking about intelligibility, i.e., a proposition and/or theory that can be understood. If a physicist says, Twas brillig, and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe, then he has the cognitive responsibility to explain what he means in intelligible terms. It will not do for him to reply, "Well, I am a physicist, so the rules of intelligibility do not apply to me. I am a physicist, so I don't need to make sense."
"Similarly, if a theory can supposedly mean x and non-X at the same time" Well, two events can indeed both happen at the same time, and not at the same time. That much is more or less certain. If philosophy disagrees with this, it's philosophy that's wrong, not physics. Bob
You are here equivocating on the meaning of time. The Law of Identity specifies at the same time and in the same respect -- a crucial qualification that you conveniently snipped when quoting me. In this case, "in the same respect" would mean from the same perspective. Ghs
What is true and false at the same time and in the same respect applies if the Philosopher is asserting that time is absolute, while not being asserted now, this certainly was in the past. So, instead, the Philosopher is saying "Well, time isn't absolute I guess, but my idea of what I call causality still is unassailable." Seems to me that's a contradiction. It's seems rather obvious and rather likely that causality in reality is far from what Philosophy says it is. You wrote: "I am a physicist, so I don't need to make sense." This is the arrogance I refer to. What you really mean and clearly imply is "I'm a Philosopher, my logic must be correct". Well, we've been down that road before haven't we? But no, the physicist is saying "The world is not complying to what we would might expect to make "sense". I know this because I have data. Here's a theory that seems wacky, but it works (predicts accurately) so we must accept it until it is broken". However, there are attempts to explain these strange things in more conventional terms and maybe they'll prove to bear some fruit with data some time soon, but in the meantime arrogance is not a logical stance. Bob

It's very strange that you would call the insistence that physicists make sense "arrogance," and that you would say that my defense of logic "is not a logical stance."

Seems to me that's a contradiction, you say. I ask, so what's wrong with a contradiction, if we throw out the Law of Identity? After all, a corollary of the Law of Identity is the Law of Non-Contradiction, viz: A proposition cannot be both true and not-true at the same time and in the same respect. Thus, if we dispense with these arrogant rules of logic, contradictions are fine and dandy.

George, I illustrated with a historical reference I might add, quite clearly that things that were once though to be contradictory are no longer so. The arrogance comes from (and I'm quite sure you understand this) the a priori dismissal of a theory or a model based on what philosopher's decision of what the logic must be. We should damn well know by now that reality can throw us a curve ball, and what we once thought was all nice and logical and air-tight can turn out to be wrong. It's not necessarily the case that the logic is wrong per se (perhaps incomplete), but often the argument is wrong because an axiom simply isn't true. So a simple axiom like the standard causality axiom is highly suspect and in my opinion, as currently stated, is most likely wrong. This comes from a Physics undergrad education (but maybe I've been poisoned by sloppy physics thought), and enough study of QM to understand how fundamentally freaky it is.

The standard causality axiom, and Physics (or at least so far) cannot both be correct. Problem is, it's Physics making accurate predictions all the while philosophers dismissing it as nonsense.

But hey, you're in good company. Aristotle did this and only held up science for a couple thousand years with this approach, so no biggie.

Bob

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I don't know what your comment is supposed to mean. If you mean a cosmology that is somehow derived from A is A, then no such cosmology exists or, with the possible exception of some 19th century absolute idealists, has ever been attempted. But if you mean a cosmology that is consistent with the Law of Identity, then any counter-cosmology is palpably incoherent. Indeed, no such theory can even be coherently stated or defended, for if a proposition can be both true and false at the same time and in the same respect, then no proposition can be demonstrated or even shown to be probable. Similarly, if a theory can supposedly mean x and non-X at the same time and in the same respect, then that theory cannot even be coherently formulated. The Law of Identity is a necessary presupposition of intelligibility. I don't think it is unreasonable to demand that physicists make sense. If they claim exemption from this fundamental requirement, then they fall into the same categorary as theologians who prattle on about the "mysteries" of the Trinity that supposedly transcend the rudimentary laws of logic. Ghs
My problem is with an over-abundance of what can only be described as philosophical arrogance. The universe is not compelled to comply with our common sense, and in fact demonstrably does not in many instances.
I said nothing about "common sense." I was talking about intelligibility, i.e., a proposition and/or theory that can be understood. If a physicist says, Twas brillig, and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe, then he has the cognitive responsibility to explain what he means in intelligible terms. It will not do for him to reply, "Well, I am a physicist, so the rules of intelligibility do not apply to me. I am a physicist, so I don't need to make sense."
"Similarly, if a theory can supposedly mean x and non-X at the same time" Well, two events can indeed both happen at the same time, and not at the same time. That much is more or less certain. If philosophy disagrees with this, it's philosophy that's wrong, not physics. Bob
You are here equivocating on the meaning of time. The Law of Identity specifies at the same time and in the same respect -- a crucial qualification that you conveniently snipped when quoting me. In this case, "in the same respect" would mean from the same perspective. Ghs
What is true and false at the same time and in the same respect applies if the Philosopher is asserting that time is absolute, while not being asserted now, this certainly was in the past. So, instead, the Philosopher is saying "Well, time isn't absolute I guess, but my idea of what I call causality still is unassailable." Seems to me that's a contradiction. It's seems rather obvious and rather likely that causality in reality is far from what Philosophy says it is. You wrote: "I am a physicist, so I don't need to make sense." This is the arrogance I refer to. What you really mean and clearly imply is "I'm a Philosopher, my logic must be correct". Well, we've been down that road before haven't we? But no, the physicist is saying "The world is not complying to what we would might expect to make "sense". I know this because I have data. Here's a theory that seems wacky, but it works (predicts accurately) so we must accept it until it is broken". However, there are attempts to explain these strange things in more conventional terms and maybe they'll prove to bear some fruit with data some time soon, but in the meantime arrogance is not a logical stance. Bob
It's very strange that you would call the insistence that physicists make sense "arrogance," and that you would say that my defense of logic "is not a logical stance." Seems to me that's a contradiction, you say. I ask, so what's wrong with a contradiction, if we throw out the Law of Identity? After all, a corollary of the Law of Identity is the Law of Non-Contradiction, viz: A proposition cannot be both true and not-true at the same time and in the same respect. Thus, if we dispense with these arrogant rules of logic, contradictions are fine and dandy.
George, I illustrated with a historical reference I might add, quite clearly that things that were once though to be contradictory are no longer so. The arrogance comes from (and I'm quite sure you understand this) the a priori dismissal of a theory or a model based on what philosopher's decision of what the logic must be. We should damn well know by now that reality can throw us a curve ball, and what we once thought was all nice and logical and air-tight can turn out to be wrong. It's not necessarily the case that the logic is wrong per se (perhaps incomplete), but often the argument is wrong because an axiom simply isn't true. So a simple axiom like the standard causality axiom is highly suspect and in my opinion, as currently stated, is most likely wrong. This comes from a Physics undergrad education (but maybe I've been poisoned by sloppy physics thought), and enough study of QM to understand how fundamentally freaky it is. The standard causality axiom, and Physics (or at least so far) cannot both be correct. Problem is, it's Physics making accurate predictions all the while philosophers dismissing it as nonsense. But hey, you're in good company. Aristotle did this and only held up science for a couple thousand years with this approach, so no biggie. Bob

What was thought to be an air tight argument for indeterminism in QM [ von Neumann's proof of 1932 ] died when J.S. Bell proved he had made a mistake. There is not nor has there ever been a legitiate proof supporting claims of priority in an indeterministic view of QM. In fact the works of de Broglie, Bohm, Bell and now G. S. Duane show there are deterministic alternative solutions to every indeterministic claim in QM. Will you hear that in the classroom - most likely not since they still implicitly claim von Neumann's dead proof. Who is holding up physics now except physicists who rely on incorrect proofs? In a similar fashion a close examination of Special Relativity NEVER claimed to prove there was no ether - only that it is unnecessary as an assumption as long as preferred reference frames are never violated. If violated - a version of Relativity similar to Lorentz Ether Theory will be the default since Special Relativity will have been disproved. If the Neutrino results hold up the proof has been found and SR needs to be replaced. In all liklihood a failure of SR will lead to non-linear QM which means the replacement of conventional QM with a non-linear deterministic version similar to deBB - de Broglie-Bohm QM.

Don't assume physics has gotten past identity, causality, and basic logic - sloppy physics with bad assumptions and hidden philosophical agendas is much more likely. When you have to bury alternatives under appeals to authority you are in the political science realm - not physics.

Dennis

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Don't assume physics has gotten past identity, causality, and basic logic - sloppy physics with bad assumptions and hidden philosophical agendas is much more likely. When you have to bury alternatives under appeals to authority you are in the political science realm - not physics.

Dennis

There is only one Appeal To Authority :: Experimental corroboration. Anything else is nonsense. The main question: Does the theory predict correctly? Anything else is of lesser importance.

The secondary questions are: what are the symmetries of the laws. What is conserved? and such like. Any theory that leads to nonconservation of energy, momentum and angular momentum has be be considered with great, great caution. A theory that produces a Free Lunch is suspect.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Don't assume physics has gotten past identity, causality, and basic logic - sloppy physics with bad assumptions and hidden philosophical agendas is much more likely. When you have to bury alternatives under appeals to authority you are in the political science realm - not physics.

Dennis

There is only one Appeal To Authority :: Experimental corroboration. Anything else is nonsense. The main question: Does the theory predict correctly? Anything else is of lesser importance.

The secondary questions are: what are the symmetries of the laws. What is conserved? and such like. Any theory that leads to nonconservation of energy, momentum and angular momentum has be be considered with great, great caution. A theory that produces a Free Lunch is suspect.

Ba'al Chatzaf

A free lunch like the Big Bang - something from nothing based on indeterministic QM? How do probability wave functions collapse across all of space? - just probability being conserved? Whatever the indeterministic QM answer [today] it only leads to more unanswered [unanswerable] questions.

Dennis

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What was thought to be an air tight argument for indeterminism in QM [ von Neumann's proof of 1932 ] died when J.S. Bell proved he had made a mistake. There is not nor has there ever been a legitiate proof supporting claims of priority in an indeterministic view of QM. In fact the works of de Broglie, Bohm, Bell and now G. S. Duane show there are deterministic alternative solutions to every indeterministic claim in QM. Will you hear that in the classroom - most likely not since they still implicitly claim von Neumann's dead proof. Who is holding up physics now except physicists who rely on incorrect proofs? In a similar fashion a close examination of Special Relativity NEVER claimed to prove there was no ether - only that it is unnecessary as an assumption as long as preferred reference frames are never violated. If violated - a version of Relativity similar to Lorentz Ether Theory will be the default since Special Relativity will have been disproved. If the Neutrino results hold up the proof has been found and SR needs to be replaced. In all liklihood a failure of SR will lead to non-linear QM which means the replacement of conventional QM with a non-linear deterministic version similar to deBB - de Broglie-Bohm QM.

Don't assume physics has gotten past identity, causality, and basic logic - sloppy physics with bad assumptions and hidden philosophical agendas is much more likely. When you have to bury alternatives under appeals to authority you are in the political science realm - not physics.

Dennis

It's an exciting time in the physics world and sometimes I wish I was more plugged in and up to date in this area.

If SR fails, then the replacement theory then of course must include the SR's nice correlation with observation and also non-local phenomena too right? I must admit, that while I do have a good grasp of SR, that's about as far as it goes. Trying to begin to understand how a theory could possibly explain SR and the current neutrino results is beyond my current ability to even contemplate in a meaningful way right now. Any reading suggestions for someone with a (dusty) physics education?

The mass-market books are useless without the math, and the journal articles are too heavy for me.

Bob

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Don't assume physics has gotten past identity, causality, and basic logic - sloppy physics with bad assumptions and hidden philosophical agendas is much more likely. When you have to bury alternatives under appeals to authority you are in the political science realm - not physics.

Dennis

There is only one Appeal To Authority :: Experimental corroboration. Anything else is nonsense. The main question: Does the theory predict correctly? Anything else is of lesser importance.

The secondary questions are: what are the symmetries of the laws. What is conserved? and such like. Any theory that leads to nonconservation of energy, momentum and angular momentum has be be considered with great, great caution. A theory that produces a Free Lunch is suspect.

Ba'al Chatzaf

A free lunch like the Big Bang - something from nothing based on indeterministic QM? How do probability wave functions collapse across all of space? - just probability being conserved? Whatever the indeterministic QM answer [today] it only leads to more unanswered [unanswerable] questions.

Dennis

Steinhardt and Turok have proposed a theory that provides a cause for the B.B. Not everyone buys Something from Nothing.

It is a variation of the Cyclic Forever model. Some form of the cosmos has always exists. The B.B. is just an intermediate step in the cycle.

The problem with Cosmology is that we can't really test the theory empirically. That is why I take cosmology with a grain of salt.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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What was thought to be an air tight argument for indeterminism in QM [ von Neumann's proof of 1932 ] died when J.S. Bell proved he had made a mistake. There is not nor has there ever been a legitiate proof supporting claims of priority in an indeterministic view of QM. In fact the works of de Broglie, Bohm, Bell and now G. S. Duane show there are deterministic alternative solutions to every indeterministic claim in QM. Will you hear that in the classroom - most likely not since they still implicitly claim von Neumann's dead proof. Who is holding up physics now except physicists who rely on incorrect proofs? In a similar fashion a close examination of Special Relativity NEVER claimed to prove there was no ether - only that it is unnecessary as an assumption as long as preferred reference frames are never violated. If violated - a version of Relativity similar to Lorentz Ether Theory will be the default since Special Relativity will have been disproved. If the Neutrino results hold up the proof has been found and SR needs to be replaced. In all liklihood a failure of SR will lead to non-linear QM which means the replacement of conventional QM with a non-linear deterministic version similar to deBB - de Broglie-Bohm QM.

Don't assume physics has gotten past identity, causality, and basic logic - sloppy physics with bad assumptions and hidden philosophical agendas is much more likely. When you have to bury alternatives under appeals to authority you are in the political science realm - not physics.

Dennis

It's an exciting time in the physics world and sometimes I wish I was more plugged in and up to date in this area.

If SR fails, then the replacement theory then of course must include the SR's nice correlation with observation and also non-local phenomena too right? I must admit, that while I do have a good grasp of SR, that's about as far as it goes. Trying to begin to understand how a theory could possibly explain SR and the current neutrino results is beyond my current ability to even contemplate in a meaningful way right now. Any reading suggestions for someone with a (dusty) physics education?

The mass-market books are useless without the math, and the journal articles are too heavy for me.

Bob

It is indeed an exciting time in physics - comparable to the 1899-1925 time frame I would say.

The Wikipedia article is a good place to start on Lorentz Ether Theory. Don't get caught up too much

on the old ether views involving vibration in stiff media and such. The math is the same until

preferred reference frames are introduced then new interpretations, additional math, and a new

theory will be needed. That new theory will still contain elements of LET.

Dennis

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Don't assume physics has gotten past identity, causality, and basic logic - sloppy physics with bad assumptions and hidden philosophical agendas is much more likely. When you have to bury alternatives under appeals to authority you are in the political science realm - not physics.

Dennis

There is only one Appeal To Authority :: Experimental corroboration. Anything else is nonsense. The main question: Does the theory predict correctly? Anything else is of lesser importance.

The secondary questions are: what are the symmetries of the laws. What is conserved? and such like. Any theory that leads to nonconservation of energy, momentum and angular momentum has be be considered with great, great caution. A theory that produces a Free Lunch is suspect.

Ba'al Chatzaf

A free lunch like the Big Bang - something from nothing based on indeterministic QM? How do probability wave functions collapse across all of space? - just probability being conserved? Whatever the indeterministic QM answer [today] it only leads to more unanswered [unanswerable] questions.

Dennis

Steinhardt and Turok have proposed a theory that provides a cause for the B.B. Not everyone buys Something from Nothing.

It is a variation of the Cyclic Forever model. Some form of the cosmos has always exists. The B.B. is just an intermediate step in the cycle.

The problem with Cosmology is that we can't really test the theory empirically. That is why I take cosmology with a grain of salt.

Ba'al Chatzaf

There are indeed some new cosmology models which avoid something from nothing - but replace it with hidden and can never be observed variables no different in kind than Ptolemy's epicycles. Those epicycles being too complex for anyone but the high priests to analyze - thus creating a permanent class of those who can use the appeal to authority to block competition.

Turok is surrounded by those with nearly identical views. The Perimeter Institute sounds noble but I suspect does more harm than good.

Dennis

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Sparse facts mean generous imaginings which may lead to investigations revealing more facts. The future looks back and laughs at the ignorance of the past all the while simply repeating for the problem continues--the problem of the scarcity of facts.

--Brant

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There are indeed some new cosmology models which avoid something from nothing - but replace it with hidden and can never be observed variables no different in kind than Ptolemy's epicycles. Those epicycles being too complex for anyone but the high priests to analyze - thus creating a permanent class of those who can use the appeal to authority to block competition.

Turok is surrounded by those with nearly identical views. The Perimeter Institute sounds noble but I suspect does more harm than good.

Dennis

All Beginnings are hard and many cloaked in darkness. Including the beginning of our own Cosmos. Since we cannot reproduce the Cosmos in our laboratories the best we can do is hazard guesses. The guesses which run into the least difficulty are the guesses believed. Cosmology can at best be falsified cannot be corroborated. Take your best guess. Match it to the known facts. The closest fit wins. Cosmology is also useless. We cannot use it to build a better Cosmos. Too bad about that.

In my gut (that is intuitively) I favor a Cyclic Forever kind of model. The best our physics can do is account for the current cycle or era of creation, from about 13.5 billion years ago to when all the stars go out.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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But hey, you're in good company. Aristotle did this and only held up science for a couple thousand years with this approach, so no biggie.

Bob

Aristotle did no such thing. From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

Aristotle is properly recognized as the originator of the scientific study of life. This is true despite the fact that many earlier Greek natural philosophers occasionally speculated on the origins of living things and much of the Hippocratic medical corpus, which was written before or during Aristotle's lifetime, displays a serious interest in human anatomy, physiology and pathology. Even Plato has Timaeus devote a considerable part of his speech to the human body and its functions (and malfunctions). Nevertheless, before Aristotle, only a few of the Hippocratic treatises are both systematic and empirical, and their focus is exclusively on human health and disease.

By contrast, Aristotle considered the investigation of living things, and especially animals, central to the theoretical study of nature. Constituting roughly 25% of the extant corpus, his zoological writings provide a theoretical defense of the proper methodfor biological investigation; and they provide a record of the first systematic and comprehensive study of animals. There was nothing of similar scope and sophistication again until the 16thcentury. In the nineteenth century the great anatomist Richard Owen introduced a two lecture survey of Aristotle's zoological studies by declaring that “Zoological Science sprang from his [Aristotle's] labours, we may almost say, like Minerva from the Head of Jove, in a state of noble and splendid maturity” (Owen 1992, 91).Before examining this remarkable achievement, a few words about its creator are in order....

http://plato.stanfor...stotle-biology/

I assume you regard biology as a type of science. Btw, did you know that William Harvey was inspired by Aristotle's work in biology?

You doubtless were thinking of Aristotle's theory of physics, Okay, suppose that Heisenberg had been born 2500 years ago. He would probably have considered it a great privilege to have studied under Aristotle, and he would have been lucky to accomplish a fraction of what Aristotle did in science.

What I object to is your treating QM as medieval scholastics treated Aristotle's physics. One doesn't need a church or a pope to have a religious frame of mind.

Ghs

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Aristle's "phusis" or -Physics- was about matter, motion and change. As a theory of material mechanics his was dead wrong when it was wrong and made little sense when it wasn't even wrong. His work on living things was a different issue entirely. He did as good a job of naked eye qualitative biology as anyone could. Given the total absence of visual magnifiers in Aristotle's time, that is as good as it gets. Charles Darwin, himself no minor naturalist, considered Aristotle a top notch qualitative biologist. In Darwin's time biology was still highly qualitative as chemistry had not yet caught up with living stuff and a thorough atomic and molecular theory had not quite emerged. So Aristotle and Darwin did biology the same way. Look at stuff, then slice and dice it and describe what one sees.

Aristotle was mistaken in many respects. He did not grasp inertia, which was the key to Newtonian mechanics. He did not distinguish rest from uniform motion. He denied the existence of a vacuum (or even near vacuum). He denied the granularity of matter. But his major shortcoming was that he did not carefully check his main conclusions empirically. In fact did not see that as necessary. The complete experimental approach to the mechanics of matter and motion had to wait for Galileo in the 17-th century c.e. nearly 2000 years afterward. Oddly, though, Aristotle was semi-right about motion through highly resisting media. Sure enough, when falling through sticky goo heavier bodies fall faster than lighter bodies because they overcome the resistance of the medium more. Air, however, is not that gooey or sticky and heavy dense bodies falling through the atmosphere short distance would not get anywhere near terminal velocity. At a height say, of the Leaning Tower, two heavy similarly shaped bodies would fall at nearly the same speed. Stevanius did such an experiment and showed Aristotle was incorrect (not that big a deal). What was the big deal is that Aristotle could have done that experiment but he did not (or we have no record that he did).

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Aristotle did no such thing.

Aristotle's mistaken ideas killed progress in physics (the most basic of the sciences) for a couple of millenia. This is a fact, not an opinion.

What I object to is your treating QM as medieval scholastics treated Aristotle's physics. One doesn't need a church or a pope to have a religious frame of mind.

Ghs

Rather ironic because it's you who is clearly claiming the 'canonical' grip on logic and what 'makes sense'. All I'm doing is suspecting that there is likely a mistake somewhere in the logic or axiom(s) or both. You claim the "one true logic" (now of Aristotle of all people), yet accuse me of "a religious frame of mind".

Talk about not making sense...

Bob

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Aristotle did no such thing.

Aristotle's mistaken ideas killed progress in physics (the most basic of the sciences) for a couple of millenia. This is a fact, not an opinion.

What I object to is your treating QM as medieval scholastics treated Aristotle's physics. One doesn't need a church or a pope to have a religious frame of mind.

Ghs

Rather ironic because it's you who is clearly claiming the 'canonical' grip on logic and what 'makes sense'. All I'm doing is suspecting that there is likely a mistake somewhere in the logic or axiom(s) or both. You claim the "one true logic" (now of Aristotle of all people), yet accuse me of "a religious frame of mind".

Talk about not making sense...

Bob

All of this brings up the question - who is at fault or who should be praised for intellectual progress? Aristotle was one man who - like all men - did some things right and some things wrong. It is up to the individual to decide the validity of ideas presented by the orthodoxy of one’s time. It is never safe to take anything as gospel without rechecking the work or assumptions. It often is not easy to fight orthodoxy – in many cultures it can get you killed, in any case it takes extra work.

You can always go back to any period of time in hindsight and claim errors were made by one individual or another leading to a lack of subsequent progress. I have done so myself. Those errors generally have lasting power only in so far as others have not done the work to question orthodoxy.

Dennis

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Aristotle did no such thing.
Aristotle's mistaken ideas killed progress in physics (the most basic of the sciences) for a couple of millenia. This is a fact, not an opinion.
What I object to is your treating QM as medieval scholastics treated Aristotle's physics. One doesn't need a church or a pope to have a religious frame of mind. Ghs
Rather ironic because it's you who is clearly claiming the 'canonical' grip on logic and what 'makes sense'. All I'm doing is suspecting that there is likely a mistake somewhere in the logic or axiom(s) or both. You claim the "one true logic" (now of Aristotle of all people), yet accuse me of "a religious frame of mind". Talk about not making sense... Bob

An idea cannot "kill," or do, anything. What you mean to say is that some individuals who lived centuries after Aristotle and who accepted his ideas about physics did such-and-such. But this happened because Aristotle's metaphysics, which the church originally condemned as heretical, eventually became intertwined with Catholic religious dogma -- a development of which Aristotle would have thoroughly disapproved.

The fact is that the "Renaissance of the 12th Century" -- a revival of learning in science and other fields -- was almost wholly owing to the rediscovery of Aristotle's writings by Europeans. Aristotle's naturalistic perspective, which left no room for theological explanations, has long been recognized by historians as a pivotal event in the development of modern science. Your perspective on the history of science is at least 150 years out of date.

Ghs

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Aristotle's mistaken ideas killed progress in physics (the most basic of the sciences) for a couple of millenia. This is a fact, not an opinion.

As his work was lost for much of that time, how did that happen?

--Brant

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Aristotle did no such thing.

Aristotle's mistaken ideas killed progress in physics (the most basic of the sciences) for a couple of millenia. This is a fact, not an opinion.

What I object to is your treating QM as medieval scholastics treated Aristotle's physics. One doesn't need a church or a pope to have a religious frame of mind.

Ghs

Rather ironic because it's you who is clearly claiming the 'canonical' grip on logic and what 'makes sense'. All I'm doing is suspecting that there is likely a mistake somewhere in the logic or axiom(s) or both. You claim the "one true logic" (now of Aristotle of all people), yet accuse me of "a religious frame of mind".

Talk about not making sense...

Bob

All of this brings up the question - who is at fault or who should be praised for intellectual progress? Aristotle was one man who - like all men - did some things right and some things wrong. It is up to the individual to decide the validity of ideas presented by the orthodoxy of one’s time. It is never safe to take anything as gospel without rechecking the work or assumptions. It often is not easy to fight orthodoxy – in many cultures it can get you killed, in any case it takes extra work.

You can always go back to any period of time in hindsight and claim errors were made by one individual or another leading to a lack of subsequent progress. I have done so myself. Those errors generally have lasting power only in so far as others have not done the work to question orthodoxy.

Dennis

The role of Aristotle's physics in the later Middle Ages was nicely summarized by A.C. Crombie, in volume II of Medieval and Early Modern Science" (my italics):

The activity of mind and hand that showed itself in the additions of scientific fact and in the development of technology made in the 13th and 14th centuries is to be seen also in the purely theoretical criticisms of Aristotle's theory of science and fundamental principles that took place at the same time. The criticism was to lead later to the overthrow of the whole system of Aristotle's physics. Much of it developed from within Aristotle's scientific thought itself. Indeed can be seen as a sort of tragic hero striding through medieval science. From Grosseteste to Galileo he occupied the center of the stage, seducing men's minds by the magical promise of his concepts, exciting their passions and dividing their allegiances. In the end he forced them to turn against him as the real consequences of his undertakings gradually became clear; and yet, from the depths of his own system, he provided many of the weapons with which he was attacked.

Ghs

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George,

I have heard the mantra that Aristotle stood in the way of science in several places, not just here on OL. And they all have the same characteristic of presentism and massivley dropping context. And the tone is always smug.

So I wonder where the original idea came from. The folks I have read who say it don't have the creativity to come up with an observation like that on their own. They had to have gotten it elsewhere.

I haven't been able to locate the origin, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Popper said it somewhere, or maybe Dawkins or Feynman. (At least someone semi-famous with a snooty British accent. :smile: ) Then it went into the popular culture of science-minded people as a meme and now they brainlessly repeat it as a form of looking down their nose at people.

But it goes even deeper. When you are accustomed to looking down your nose at mankind (because you think the common people are so gawdawful stoopid), if you can feel superior to an icon of reason and achievement like Aristotle without doing anything--and justify it by the words of a prestigious member of your own imagined "master race," the emotional payoff must be a zinger.

We're talking about a high that not even heroin or crack cocaine can hold a candle to.

So I'm interested in locating the first utterance of that pearl of wisdom. I notice that the sages who constantly ape it never source it.

Michael

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George,

I have heard the mantra that Aristotle stood in the way of science in several places, not just here on OL. And they all have the same characteristic of presentism and massivley dropping context. And the tone is always smug.

So I wonder where the original idea came from. The folks I have read who say it don't have the creativity to come up with an observation like that on their own. They had to have gotten it elsewhere.

I haven't been able to locate the origin, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Popper said it somewhere, or maybe Dawkins or Feynman. (At least someone semi-famous with a snooty British accent. :smile: ) Then it went into the popular culture of science-minded people as a meme and now they brainlessly repeat it as a form of looking down their nose at people.

But it goes even deeper. When you are accustomed to looking down your nose at mankind (because you think the common people are so gawdawful stoopid), if you can feel superior to an icon of reason and achievement like Aristotle without doing anything--and justify it by the words of a prestigious member of your own imagined "master race," the emotional payoff must be a zinger.

We're talking about a high that not even heroin or crack cocaine can hold a candle to.

So I'm interested in locating the first utterance of that pearl of wisdom. I notice that the sages who constantly ape it never source it.

Michael

I must admit guilt in attacking some current but primarily historical figures in physics for holding back physics. In my view they pushed incorrect philosophy and physics and have sabotaged discussion of alternative ideas using methods unsuitable to intellectual discussions in science. In the final analysis it was useful for me to identify the chain of errors across many branches of physics to come to a different point of view. Having things handed to you makes you think less about the deeper implications. It is like original design work versus copying. If you can come up with original designs you are more likely to understand the implications of all designs in the same subject area.

Dennis

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Aristotle's mistaken ideas killed progress in physics (the most basic of the sciences) for a couple of millenia. This is a fact, not an opinion.

As his work was lost for much of that time, how did that happen?

--Brant

It's a long story. A few of Aristotle's works were transmitted to early western European thinkers, but most had been lost during the centuries of turmoil that followed the collapse of the western Roman Empire and various invasions -- the so-called Dark Ages. Fortunately, Aristotle's works were preserved in Islamic culture -- which explains why Muslim philosophers, such as Averroes and Avicenna, were far more advanced than their Christian counterparts at the time.

It was during the Reconquista (Reconquest of Spain), and the mixing of Muslims and Christians that this lengthy process brought about, that western intellectuals gained access to a large number of Aristotle's writings. Many of these were available only in Arabic translations, however, so Jewish scholars who had lived in Spain under Islamic rule played a major role in translating Aristotle's works from Arabic into Latin. Not until later, e.g., during the 15th century, were Greek manuscripts of those works discovered.

The so-called Latin Averroists -- i.e., those Christians who accepted the highly secularized interpretation of Aristotle, as defended by Averroes -- illustrate how Aristotle's theories were fundamentally incompatible with Christianity. (Aristotle argued that the universe was eternal, for example, and this contradicted the Christian doctrine of creation). But this led to various heresies, so some Latin Averroists, such as Siger of Brabant, ended up in prison, or worse. J.M. Robertson and other historians of freethought have long regarded the Latin Averroists as predecessors of modern freethought and secularism, but it was the melding of Aristotelianism and Christianity, primarily via the writings of Thomas Aquinas, that dominated European thought for centuries.

The Latin Averroists were responsible for the doctrine of "double truth." This held that something can be true for reason but not for faith, and vice-versa. This doctrine was probably nothing more than a ruse devised by the Latin Averroists to avoid the medieval Inquisition, but it didn't fool many among the orthodox.

Ghs

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An idea cannot "kill," or do, anything. What you mean to say is that some individuals who lived centuries after Aristotle and who accepted his ideas about physics did such-and-such. But this happened because Aristotle's metaphysics, which the church originally condemned as heretical, eventually became intertwined with Catholic religious dogma -- a development of which Aristotle would have thoroughly disapproved.

The fact is that the "Renaissance of the 12th Century" -- a revival of learning in science and other fields -- was almost wholly owing to the rediscovery of Aristotle's writings by Europeans. Aristotle's naturalistic perspective, which left no room for theological explanations, has long been recognized by historians as a pivotal event in the development of modern science. Your perspective on the history of science is at least 150 years out of date.

Ghs

Really?

Well let's look at a couple of 'facts' that you conveniently leave out of your perpetual half-truths.

Aristotle's views were intertwined with Church dogma - problem, and agreed.

However, your view of the Church/Galileo interaction as stated here isn't even out of date, it's deliberately misleading. I'm sure you're aware, with your vast historical knowledge, that forces within the Church at the time were simultaneously arguably his strongest supporters . Who were among the first (or I think maybe were actually first) to repeat his observations and sympathize with his viewpoint? Jesuits. What happend on 13th of May 1611 at the Roman College? Big Jesuit Galileo party, that's what. Sure the Jesuits were pressured to tow the Church line, but the Church was simultaneously Galileo's foe and ally. Your simplistic view doesn't fly. Who refused to even look through the telescope because Galileo HAD to be wrong because it was anti-Aristotle (or perhaps an Identity violation)? Brain-dead philosophers, that's who.

We don't have the simplistic 'Galileo the good vs. Aristotle's ideas polluted by Church' nonsense as you would have us believe. We have 'Galileo the correct vs the Aristotle-infected Church, the Aristotle-infected contemporary scientists, AND the Aristotle-infected Philosophers'.

"Aristotle's naturalistic perspective, which left no room for theological explanations, has long been recognized by historians as a pivotal event in the development of modern science."

Yes, however, it can still be true that his physics did immeasurable damage to the development of modern science. Basically, it comes down to whether or not what he did right was ultimately more important that what he did wrong. What do you think Galileo would say?

I also strongly object to what I can only assume is your deliberate and calculated omissions. If your integrity was only the smallest fraction of the strength your historical knowledge. At least when I omit someting, I can legitmately blame ignorance...

Bob

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Dennis,

I haven't read enough of your writing to judge, but you come off to me as a person on a mission because you have a vision of truth you see being stifled.

So let's break it down. I don't know all that much about science, but I do know about politics and vanity and human nature in general. There are actually two topics involved, not one, in the point I am trying to make.

The first is when a scientist actively pursues and promotes a theory in light of a reasonable alternative (or alternatives), or at least something that needs to be probed and discussed, but he ferociously works against any idea but his own. Say, a scientist who believes in Intelligent Design (or vice-versa, but let's stick with this one as this is controversial and gets people riled up). And he goes about life trying to block consideration of any theory but his own, fudges a bit when needed, mocks people, plays up to politicians, and so on. Is that science? I say it is not. But he is a scientist. One thing is for sure. He tries to make it impossible for anyone to have contact with any other way of thinking than his own.

Depending on how far he manages to gain influence in politics (note well, I said politics, not science), he can be guilty of stifling scientific progress. There is quite a lot of politics to be had in formal scientific organizations, educational organizations, publishing houses, places that offer grants and funding, and so forth.

(Note that many on both sides of that particular ID debate would prefer censorship to persuasion through open discussion. I mention this not because of the merits of the issue, but because of the irrational behavior of the actors--the political nature of it.)

If a person is such a scientist, even if he's right, he will end up stifling the progress of science in some form. Stifle is his manner of dealing with opposition. His main problem is vanity and he seeks political means to enforce his vain ends.

The second topic is a scientist who gives it all his honest best shot. Then his work is picked up by others and used for political ends. The science that actually works from such a scientist is merely a prop for the politicians to exercise their power. And exercise it they do as they use such work to clobber independent thinkers to death with it.

To blame that scientist for standing in the way of scientific progress is an upside-down mind game.

I say the villain is ALWAYS politics (and vanity), never science.

Here's a mind experiment. Suppose an unpopular but provable idea is exposed to a bunch of men and women who have a habit of using their rational faculty to the limit, but they live in an oppressive environment. Some of them will end up adopting it even against enormous odds and at considerable pain. Or they will try to escape their environment and promote the idea wherever they can find conditions to do so. History is full of efforts like this. And science has progressed from these efforts. (Science also progresses from other things, but that is another discussion.)

The only pure mind control system that works 100% with people like that (i.e., in stopping the progress of science for real) is to deny such people access to the information. Because once they get it, some of them will absorb it and some of those will act on it. So what's a stifler to do if the information comes out and you want it stopped? You only have one other path. You have to try to beat the thinkers into silence through pure thuggery, threats, sticks and carrots. And all that stuff belongs to the realm of politics, not science.

It is practically impossible to stop seeing something once you have seen it. You need a hell of a lot of beatings and killing for that to happen.

In my view, blaming Aristotle for intellectually damaging mankind because of the acts of politicians who lived centuries after his death is the height of irrationality. It is vanity on steroids.

This is almost a Mozart and Salieri thing where a bunch of modern-day Salieris try to poison the master because they know they will never be able to write such beautiful music themselves.

This is my point. It has nothing to do with analyzing the errors of other scientists in pursuing a line of inquiry. Hell, that's the good stuff. It has everything to do with selling out for vanity and the political oppression of such inquiry.

When you blame the wrong person and/or give the wrong reason for such oppression, you get the thugs laughing their butts off because sanction of the victim actually worked.

Michael

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