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FRIENDSOFWISDOM  May 2006

FRIENDSOFWISDOM May 2006

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Subject:

Re: Science and Wisdom-Inquiry

From:

ian glendinning <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Group concerned that academia should seek and promote wisdom <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 30 May 2006 15:40:51 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

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text/plain (148 lines)

Hi Karl,

"New-Age-Post-Modernist-Physics" you're too kind ;-)
"Post-modern" is almost as pejorative as "new-age".

As I've said, I'm conscious of the "hack" level of discussing the
physics itself - but without the education the only alternative is to
remain silent - this way I learn something :-) I'd like to think I'm
not as naive as I might appear. Appearing new-agey is an occupational
hazard - part of the Catch-22 of taking anything other than "received
rationality" seriously I find.

The "I'm convinced theoretical physics is actual metaphyisics" quote
is Max Born, cited by Jacob Bronowski, not my words. Part of the
realisation that the quantum view was setting a new "paradigm" for
thinking about the world generally.

In the quote from my summary / manifesto, don't overlook the word
"seemingly". Of course I believe there is a rationally tractable
alternative to irrationality, we just have to find "the right kind" of
rationality. That's why we're here I guess.

(I may come back to you off-line on the Einstein link with the
Anthropic principle. I think the summaries of what the AP's are seem
OK, but the guy at the web site goes on to make some claims "Einstein
was right all along", which he says undermines modern interpretations
of Dirac etc, which I have seen used to support a "quantum
information" view of reality, but I'm out of my depth in the
mathematical formulations. I believe I'm OK with the "Intelligent
Design" aspects of the discussion, and the history of those debates
since the Platonic forms.)

Ian

On 5/30/06, Karl Rogers <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
> Hi Ian,
>
> I found the http://www.anthropic-principle.org/ site to be
> a reasonable introductory description of the anthropic cosmological
> principle and its distinction from intelligent design and the copernician
> cosmological principle.
> However, the http://www.psybertron.org/?p=1132 blog is
> quite "postmodern" about physics, if I may be so kind. It is simply using a
> series of interpretations of scientific theories to justify a "New Age"
> postmodernity.
>
> Although, having said that, I think the opening statement
>
> "...real human enterprises succeed or fail through subjective, chaotic and
> seemingly irrational behaviour."
>
> is the really interesting talking point, but unfortunately was not really
> discussed on the blog nor the "manifesto" link.  It seems to me that this is
> the crucial matter for any discussion about wisdom. Is there a rational
> basis through which we can realise what is good for us to realise? Or is it
> simply a matter of luck?
>
> I also found the opening quote by the "intelligent design" theorist Michael
> Behe on http://www.anthropic-principle.org/ to be worth
> discussing for a moment.
>
> "Well, intelligent design is just the idea that you can see the effects of
> an intelligent agent on nature. A quick illustration is Mount Rushmore. You
> look at the mountains around Mount Rushmore, and you can tell that it was
> not just erosion and plate tectonics and other non-intelligent forces that
> are responsible for the shapes on that mount. It was a design. It was an
> intelligent agent who did that ...intelligent design in biology says we
> think like Mount Rushmore. That is, we see things that give the strong
> appearance of design in biology, particularly at the cellular level."
>
> This is an old trick, used frequently throughout the C19th century creation
> vs. evolution debate, and reincarnated in the ID vs. evolution guise. The
> creationist starts with a clearly artificial object, such as a clock or the
> fresco of carved faces on Mount Rushmore, and points out how distinct this
> object is from the surrounding natural world. Then using quite shocking
> "sleight of hand" uses that to argue that the finely tuned functionality of
> the natural world is more precise and delicate than the artificial object,
> hence we must infer that some intelligent designer must have made it, in the
> same way that we infer the existence of the clockmaker or the sculptor.
>
> I don't particularly wish to get into the ID debate, largely because as far
> as I am concerned, while I have no a priori objection to the idea that God
> created the Universe (nor do I see any fundamental contradiction between
> evolution theory and this idea -- maybe God is more of a cook than an
> artisan), I think that it is quite obvious that the ID theorists are clearly
> disguised creationists trying to circumvent the US Constitution and insert
> their religious prejudices into high school biology classes. Hence, they
> wish to wrap their narrow interpretation of the Bible in scientific
> clothing, in order for it to be introduced into a biology class, rather than
> call for it to be introduced in a philosophy class as a matter for classroom
> debate and discussion.
>
> But the point that I find interesting is that natural philosophy and
> cosmology has been playing on the boundaries between the distinction between
> the artificial and the natural for milenia. Even though he maintained a
> distinction between the two, Art (techne) was the central explanatory trope
> in Aristotle's Physics and Metaphysics in his desription of Nature (phusis)
> and its distinction from Artifice. This distinction was central to the
> theological and philosophical debates around alchemy in both medieval and
> seventeen century Europe and the Middle East.
>
> As I argue in On the Metaphysics of Experimental Physics, Baconian natural
> philosophy and Galilean physics involved blurring this distinction
> completely. After that, artifice and the artificial could only be possible
> if the were based on natural principles, and, therefore, artifice and the
> artificial could be used to discover natural principles. In the case of
> modern physics these principles were represented as "natural mechanisms" to
> be discovered by ustilising then in technical activity and, hence, the
> directions of scientific research became bound-together with technological
> innovation.
>
> However, this explanatory and elucidatory interplay between the artifical
> and the natural that human being use to try to understand the natural world,
> by trying to understand it in human terms, is at work in the anthropic
> cosmological principle. It is something of a return to a more Aristotelean
> interpretation of the Kosmos, the world order, but explored through
> mathematical, theoretical physics, rather than a situated phenomenology. It
> is an expression of the disatisfaction with the copernician world-view and
> the inadequacy of the positivistic method, while still aiming at a
> scientific explanation of the world in terms of quantified interactions and
> fundamental mechanisms. It still remains based on the same fundamental
> representations of the world-as-product-of-mechanisms, as mainstream
> physics, in order to produce the evidence, even though it utilises a
> different set of representations to interpret the evidence.
> This is pretty much true of the so-called paradigm shift between quantum and
> classical physics. Both utilise the same set of fundamental representations
> in order to produce the evidence, but then utilise a different set of
> fundamental representations in order to interpret it.
>
> So while I agree with you that "theoretical physics is actual metaphysics"
> it is so at a level of interpretive metaphysics based on the evidence
> produced through experiment and measurement. I argue that there is also a
> level of operational metaphysics that is a work that allows evidence about
> the natural world to be discovered/produced by using artificial procedures
> and machines. This is as true of cosmology and relativity, as it is of
> quantum physics, thermodynamics, and electromagnetism.
>
> best regards,
> Karl.
>
>
> ________________________________
> Now you can scan emails quickly with a reading pane. Get the new Yahoo!
> Mail.
>
>

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