Look, I’m not a scientist. Not in any way shape or form. So it’s probably not a good idea to consult with me on scientific matters. And I don’t really side with the empiricists of the pre-Kant era. HOWEVER, I do fall on the side of GOOD philosophy and GOOD science acting in unison. And because science deals with the empirical, I say that that would make it the superior to philosophy (or philosophy is subordinate to science). After all, philosophy requires a degree of empirical evidence in order to find validity.
Does that make me an empiricist? Or even a positivist? Perhaps reluctantly. I guess a soft positivist, if you will.
BUT, what we fail to to appreciate within empirical and scientific investigation (most notably in physics) is the temporary position that a theory holds. Perhaps its truths don’t completely fade. Yet, their significance do in some ways become minimized, or even replaced. Is Isaac Newton’s specific discoveries discussed in physics courses? I don’t know. Perhaps they are, but are they really just explained as stepping stones to larger and contemporary theories? (Scientists, please help me out here)
Former dominating theories either become amended, expanded, or even expelled altogether. They are then replaced by theories compiled by modern theoretical or empirical investigation. This is the basis of Thomas Kuhn’s paradigm shifts, if you will.
Albert Einstein presented such a paradigm shift. I might be showing my scientific ignorance here, but prior to Einstein, Isaac Newton and other outdated or insufficient models probably dominated scientific thought. Then Einstein’s Theory of Relativity was presented, and thus we have the modern era of physics.
Who knows how many Ph.Ds have been minted by the study of relativity. How many scientists have staked their fame on Einstein’s discoveries? But the sad reality is that Einstein’s days are numbered. He even rejected quantum mechanics, which is a field that’s become more difficult to denounce by the hour. It remains only a matter of time before Einstein’s theories become insufficient. Perhaps not obsolete, but it will become usurped by an even greater discovery (if that discovery has not already been made).
I watched a lecture (shown above) where two speakers reject Einstein’s relativity in the name of preserving dialectical materialism. Despite their efforts, how the two are related is confusing if not pointless. No one in the audience seemed to have been sold on their presentation. I’m willing to go to pretty strange places in order to understand certain philosophical positions, but even this was a bit too much. HOWEVER, this lecture did showcase an interesting problem.
The speakers were willing to reject commonly believed physics, which appeared to anger many. Their reasoning may or may not be sound, but there is an infamous disconnect between quantum mechanics and Einstein’s relativity. The two don’t appear to align with one another, yet both seem to be irrefutable aspects of the universe. This is a side note to the lecture, as both speakers seem to also reject quantum mechanics. BUT they also seem to (perhaps inadvertently) embrace this mind-dependent aspect to science and physics. (But I could be wrong)
Once when we look past the atom, down to the subatomic level, things seem to stop making sense. Now, I’m a huge fan of Slavoj Zizek. His ideology seems to extend all the down to the atomic level. The idea of the ‘atom’ is projected on to the bundle of electrons, neutrons, and whatever else that consists the atom. This form of ideology goes all the way up to easily observable objects. Whatever the title that we attach to a bundle of energy, or matter in motion, is just the veil over the nothingness behind it. But it’s the human mind that attaches descriptors to these objects, and everything seems to fall neatly into a taxonomic system that could be easily understood by the mind. Yet, these systems do not exist without the mind to say that they exist. Which could possibly explain why quantum mechanics seemingly makes little sense.
It’s the crack the peeks through into Kant’s previously unknowable thing-in-itself.
Once when we look past what we normally perceive as knowable objects…people, planets, galaxies, etc….we realize that they are basically nothing, or are things that are completely different than what we project on to them. When the title is removed, when we look at the objects for what they really are, we realize that there is nothing behind the veil.
I’ll take a leap of faith here and say that Einstein’s relativity might be a result of this process. The universe appears to be orderly. All laws of physics are obeyed everywhere. That’s how the world is supposed to work. But perhaps relativity is the reflection in the veil…a representation of the mind’s overall outlook on the universe. All laws are consistent because that’s how the mind sees it, not the way how it really is. If the mind were to be removed, it would reveal a highly chaotic world. Perhaps one that would resemble the world of quantum mechanics.
Zizek once joked that God didn’t expect humans to dig any further than the atomic level. Yet somehow we did. Or we think we did. But we have uncovered a highly mysterious realm where previous held beliefs breakdown. Perhaps the day will come when we might realize that relativity is not the dominant model for the functioning of the universe (or something like that(again, scientists, help me out here)). But as the audience suggests in the above lecture, that’s going to piss a great deal of scientists off because SO many staked their claim on its validity. And any evidence or theory that suggests the contrary is to be laughed out of the room.
I don’t know. Call me crazy.
Additionally, the speakers seemed to have engaged in a sort of argument that pisses me off. For example, the first guy stated that one of the weak links in relativity is that Einstein once said something that contradicted the theory. He believed that that was proof that even Einstein didn’t believe his own theory (or something close to that. Just watch the video). I see this argument used a lot, and it really lacks any sense.
Even Bertrand Russell seemed to have fallen into this stupid pitfall. When criticizing Arthur Schopenhauer in the book A History of Western Philosophy, the knock against him was that Schopenhauer never practiced what he preached. Therefore, somehow, Schopenhauer’s philosophy is shallow.
It’s a weak argument. We don’t have to know anything about a writer, philosopher, scientist, etc, in order to appreciate their work. Yet this argument is used when there becomes a lack of valid criticism.
So when someone uses it, the argument is probably full of shit. Plus, I was quite disappointed with A History of Western Philosophy. There’s more on that later.