[ExI] Why Physics Needs Philosophy
danust2012 at gmail.com
Wed Mar 30 22:53:09 UTC 2016
On Mar 30, 2016, at 3:13 PM, John Clark <johnkclark at gmail.com> wrote:
>> On Wed, Mar 30, 2016 Dan TheBookMan <danust2012 at gmail.com> wrote:
>> > I put your previous rant against philosophy to a professional philosopher, his response was:
>> 'Mortimer Adler is a silly example since he is respected almost solely by non-philosophers. But I'd put the contributions of Wittgenstein, Putnam, Kripke, Anscombe, Davidson, Sellars, McDowell, Brandom, and Thompson up against any of these supposed "gargantuan philosophical discoveries made by non-philosophers."'
> I grant you that not all modern philosophers are as silly as Adler was,
Let me _stress_ this, since it's being missed: I know only one person who put forth Adler as a serious and important philosopher. The professionals I've asked have a fairly low opinion of him. He has no list of students following in his footsteps that I'm aware of. Why anyone would bring up Adler as a key example is beyond me. It's like picking Erich von Däniken to show us how archaeology and history are useless fields.
> and some are interesting people who do a good job explaining the ideas made by others to humanities majors. But what original discoveries did those professional philosophers make that was even close in important to the gargantuan philosophical discoveries make by NON-philosophers like Cantor who discovered that there is a infinite number of different types of infinity, or Godel who discovered that some things are true but have no proof, or Turing who discovered that things can be deterministic but not predictable, or Clausius who discovered Entropy, or Maxwell who discovered that static electricity magnetism and light were all related, or Darwin who discovered how bacteria can turn into people, or Planck who discovered that everything comes in little packages, or Watson and Crick who discovered that heredity is digital, or Hubble who discovered that the universe is expanding, or Perlmutter Schmidt and Riess who discovered that the universe is accelerating, or Einstein who discovered that space and time are not absolute. What discoveries about the nature of reality have professional philosophers made in the last couple of centuries that was even in the same ballpark in importance, or even in the same continent?
Gödel was a philosopher, no? What about Bertrand Russell, A. N. Whitehead, David Hilbert, and Henri Poincaré? Didn't they all do work in philosophy, in some cases as professionals?
This has descended into a pissing contest. Almost all workers in any field might be seen ultimately as adding very little, especially when set against the giants. (This doesn't mean I accept some "great man" version of history here.) Maudlin's point wasn't about who discovered more stuff. It was about the role of philosophy in the overall process.
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