Saturday, July 31, 2010

Language, Logic, and Reality

I REALLY wish we'd lose the words: "Mathematics", "Philosophy", and "Physics" and replace them with the better words that I suggest with this Post's title, in order.

I mean, I have NO problem with the Ancient Greeks, but don't you think it's time we moved on ?!

Consider THIS:

Rather than getting say a sheepskin that says:

"Doctor of Philosophy in Physics"

How much cooler would it be to get a sheepskin that says ...

"Doctor of Logic in Reality" ?

I think, it would be totally more descriptive.

More examples and in toto, minus the details:


Mathematics ===> Language

- Mathematics is THE ULTIMATE language. Name a better one. You can't, can you?

Philosophy ===> Logic

Physics ===> Reality

Let the Greeks go. We will always love them and nothing will change that, but ... let the Wookie win.

My two cents.


Phil Warnell said...

Hi Steven,

I understand the opposite as to wonder why physics and philosophy have diverged since the Greeks to represent to be things that are diametrically opposed. The truth being philosopher just means to be a lover of knowledge and thus what could serve as a better description for a scientist.

May the force be with you,


Steven Colyer said...

I'm 100% on board with your attitude that Philosophy and Science have diverged, and that it's a shame. But YOU are working to re-unify them, and I'm with you on that.

As far as "lover of knowledge" goes, I can see that description being valid in the time of the Greeks. Back then, Philosophy was pretty much ALL the knowledge we had! OK, there was agriculture, botany and zoology, war, and civil engineering. And some other stuff and not much else.

THANKS to Philosophy, we got Science, beginning with Physics, and the Sciences have exploded exponentially, minus a dark age here and there and every now and then.

But Language, Mathematics the Language of Science and of Itself, exploded as well, in a slightly different direction, because it needn't reflect reality. Mathematics for its own sake, PURE Mathematics, is quite valid and a wonderful field in its own right. And every now and then, pure math like Galois' groups becomes applied as in Weyl's application of same to quantum mechanics circa 1919.

And that's the sweetness, to me. When the seemingly useless becomes useful. Nice.

So here's to Euclid and Socrates, to Plato and Aristotle, and all they wrought. We have come so very, very far, and have quite a bit farther to go.

But I don't see why we must still be tied to the exact words that a civilization (Athens) that blew it big time in The Peloponnesian War used, 2300 years ago.

Thanks for the start, Leonidas, we'll take it from here.

Steven Colyer said...

I'm 100% on board with your attitude that Philosophy and Science have diverged...

Oops, I should have taken my own advice and said:

I'm 100% on board with your attitude that Logic and Reality have diverged ...

It makes more sense, then. :-)

Bright side, Phil: Recently, the two actually ARE coming together, thanks in no small part to Lee Smolin at Perimeter. The problem isn't the Physicists, it's the Philosophers.

To contribute, they must get caught up on the Science, on the Math. Some are doing that but not nearly enough. One who is doing that is Philosophy Professor Tim Maudlin at Rutgers. Read "Quantum Non-Locality and Special Relativity" by same. Travis Norsen considers it the best treatment of John S. Bell's work other than Bell's words, themselves.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Steven,

For me in the end it’s more than simple semantics as in being a lover of knowledge encompasses all and that in sum total represents to be reality. To be careful though knowledge must be defined as not being simply information, yet what stands as being the reason it becomes information or simply something we are able to come to know.

So to say one is a "Doctor of Logic in Reality" hints that reality is limited to being a product of logic, which is expressed by its information alone. However the lesson I’ve learned is even the purest expression of logic being mathematics has found to be not self consistent as able to stand alone within the logical soundness of its own axioms. That is to work at all it requires something from the outside to be consistent.

One of these things being choice, as given by the axiom of choice, which is not mandated by mathematical logic yet rather unexplainably required never the less. So one could say that logic is preceded by choice and the question of course being is choice unavoidable as to there being no others possible as to have a reality. That is to ask if what reality itself stands as being is the inevitable consequence of choice and is choice arbitrary fundamentally or limited as to be purposeful, that is with or without intent being required. That would then be to contend that what reality is being a purposeful construct bottom line.

It’s also interesting who you cited as the new philosophers as I’ve been aware of them and havefollowed their work closely for sometime. Tim Maudlin was an advisor of Doug Hemmick’s at Rutgers and I’ve had many discussions with Travis Norsen of Marlboro college in regards to the foundations especially as they relate to Bohmian Mechanics.



Phil Warnell said...

Hi Steven,

I meant to have my comment end with the following thoughts given in regards to the importance of philosophy being the root of all when referencing the pursuit of knowledge.

“It has been often said, and certainly not without justification, that the man of science is a poor philosopher. Why, then, should it not be the right thing for the physicist to let the philosopher to the philosophizing? Such might indeed be the right thing at a time when the physicist believes he has at his disposal a rigid system of fundamental concepts and fundamental laws which are also well established that waves of doubt cannot reach them; but, it cannot be right at a time when the very foundations of physics itself become problematic as they are now. At a time like the present, when experience forces us to seek a newer and more solid foundation, the physicist cannot simply surrender to the philosopher the critical contemplation of the theoretical foundations; for, he himself knows best, and feels more surely where the shoe pinches. In looking for a new foundation he must make clear in his own mind just how far such concepts which he uses are justified, and are necessities.”

-Albert Einstein- “Physics and Reality”- Journal of the Franklin Institute [Volume.221, No. 3, March 3, 1936]



book publishers said...

Interesting how philosophy and physics merges at key historical points.

Steven Colyer said...

The purpose of "Philosophy", which is a name I would prefer to be lost and replaced with "Logic," is to "question the assumptions."

Lee Smolin knows what i'm talking about, as does George Musser. What can I do to help you?