From: Tom Gray@MITEL on 06/26/2001 08:23 AM
I have tried to send this out to the list previously and for some reason, I
receive nothing back from the list. I'm trying one last time. Please excuse me
if you have received duplicate copies.
--- Ken Armstrong <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> At 11:43 AM 06/23/2001 +0100, you wrote:
> >On Fri, 22 Jun 2001 17:35:06 -0400, you wrote:
> >Newton's descriptions are one set of descriptions
> of the world which
> >are now seen as being a subset or speical case
> (subject to the Lorentz
> >transformations) of the special and general
> theories of relativity.
> That sounds like an allforabit right there, but
> I'm not up on physics
> (to put it mildly). Do you mean that there is peace
> and harmony in the
> physics community on the question of the relation of
> Newton's laws to
> Einstein's visa vis Heisenberg? Just my weekly
> perusals of the NY Times
> Book Review make that seem unlikely, but maybe you
> could say just a bit
> (for all, or holos can you go?) more?
> And then what of Blake and "Newton's swoon" etc?
> Was Blake just not privy
> to Heisenberg, in absolute chronological terms, or
> did he have a legitimate
> >The relationships of the various sets of
> descriptions, including those
> >not yet formulated, are set out in Physics and
> Philosophy by
> >There is no overturning but a succession of
> paradigms which must each
> >be taken as a whole:
> It does sound nice, but the skeptic in me gets
> glum thinking of
> "relationships...set out" among things that don't
> >"When a part so ptee does duty for the holos we
> soon grow to use of an
> >allforabit." FW p19
> >One paradigm's science is another paradigm's poetry
> / mythology.
> Maybe, but we're not seeing the universe in a
> grain of sand here, are
> we? Isn't this ("grow use to") a habit of mind, the
> habit being here taking
> the ptee part for the whole?
> Does Tom Gray have some thoughts on this?
It all depends on what one means by science. I think
that the above description is an amalgam of the
realist and pragmatic views of the purpose of science.
If one views science as creating ever more accurate
pictures of the world then the references to old
models being subsets or a special case of a new and
better model makes sense.
Theories in this case are supposed to be accurate
descriptions of reality. In more modern descriptions
that I have seen (the current issue of American
Scientist), they are reality. This view combines
idealism with empiricism by despairing of the human
capacity to truly understand reality. Quantum theory,
for example, makes predictions that are beyond the
intuition of human beings (events being influenced by
the results of choices made after the event occurs for
example). In this view the mathematics is the reality
and the observations are only one reification of it -
a very Platonian concept.
A contrasting view is that science is a human endeavor
designed to answer the questions that are important to
its practitioners. This view better explains how
science really operates since empirical observations
that contradict current theories abound. Science must
proceed to answer important questions and observations
which cannot be explained defer scientists from this
task. They are best ignored rather being allowed to
cause distraction from more important work.
Theories in this view are simply instrumental; they
are set up to provide answers to questions. The nature
of reality just does not enter into the issue.
In this view Aristotle's science is as good as
Newton's. They are simply set up to answer different
questions. We understand Newton better because of the
society we are in. Aristotle's science makes no sense
to us since we do not understand the questions it is
Newton's science is reductive. It sets itself up to
find certainty by reducing the problem to things in
which it can find certainty in. It explicitly makes
assumptions and builds a structure from these
assumptions. At least that is how it is supposed to
occur. Whether eal scientists really work this way is
open to much debate.
We have been educated n Newton's reductionism and so
find Aristotle's science puzzling. However Aristotle
saw as his problem the issue of explaining the complex
systems that surround us all. Newton rejects telos and
teleology but we see all around us teleogical systems
(our bodies for example). If one sees Aristotle's work
in that light then much of what he said makes absolute
sense and his other explanations can be seen as
attempts to apply the same means.
Current systems addressing issues in complexity are
using teleological principles in order to make sense
of events. Inanimate agents are ascribed the capacity
of intentions and intentionality as a means of
understanding complex non-linear behavior.
Newton and Aristole are asking different questions.
Aristotle cannot explain Newotnian mechanics but
Newtonian physics collapses in complxity when
addressing real world problems - six of one, half a
dozen of the other.
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