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RECENT POSTS IN THIS TOPIC

Alexey/Lev Burov: on 4/17/15 at 2:36am UTC, wrote Dear Jerzy, Greetings! I enjoyed your deep, clear and well–written...

Armin Nikkhah Shirazi: on 4/5/15 at 21:10pm UTC, wrote Dear Jerzy, You put your finger on some very subtle issues the importance...

Jerzy Kowalski-Glikman: on 3/16/15 at 11:29am UTC, wrote Dear Akinbo, Thanks for your post. I'm afraid I'm neither a professional...

Akinbo Ojo: on 3/8/15 at 16:56pm UTC, wrote Dear Jerzy, You put your well considered thoughts in a concise way of...

Conrad Johnson: on 3/4/15 at 13:50pm UTC, wrote Jerzy, I appreciate your very thoughtful and well-written essay. It's...

Ed Unverricht: on 2/28/15 at 18:40pm UTC, wrote I would like to respectfully disagree with your conclusion "Science is now...

Sujatha Jagannathan: on 2/26/15 at 17:21pm UTC, wrote Great piece with phenomenon mentions. Regards, Miss. Sujatha Jagannathan

Jerzy Kowalski-Glikman: on 2/23/15 at 13:34pm UTC, wrote Dear Efthimios Harokopos, Thank you for reading my essay and for bringing...


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FQXi FORUM
October 14, 2019

CATEGORY: Trick or Truth Essay Contest (2015) [back]
TOPIC: The price for mathematics by Jerzy Kowalski-Glikman [refresh]
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Author Jerzy Kowalski-Glikman wrote on Feb. 19, 2015 @ 23:36 GMT
Essay Abstract

In this short essay I argue that the development of modern physics, in which the use of mathematical techniques plays a central role, comes with a price. Some important questions become meaningless and cannot be asked in the framework of the current scientific paradigm adopted in physics. Using mathematical methods we can understand and describe only idealized processes and systems.

Author Bio

I am a physicists working at the Institute of Theoretical Physics of the University of Wroclaw, Poland. I got my PhD from the University of Warsaw in 1985. My main fields of research interests are quantum gravity and quantum gravity phenomenology.

Download Essay PDF File

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Koorosh Shahdaei wrote on Feb. 20, 2015 @ 15:40 GMT
Dear Mr. Kowalski-Glikman

Thank you for your thought-provoking contribution. You mentioned: “…the use of the quantitative methods and emergence of the modern scientific paradigm shed light on enormous unknown areas of inquiry, but at the same time started hiding others in the shadows. It seems that only in recent years have we become aware of the existence of these shadowy areas…”. I also share your view, the quantities methods definitely had some sort of miscarry for the reason you mentioned. I have also reflected this in my essay.

Kind Regards

Koorosh

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Efthimios Harokopos wrote on Feb. 22, 2015 @ 17:38 GMT
I understand that the subject is involved but you presented a one-sided view of Aristotelian physics. I point you to the following paper by prof. Rovelli,

"I show that Aristotelian physics is a correct approximation of Newtonian physics in its appropriate domain, in the same precise sense in which Newton theory is an approximation of Einstein's theory. Aristotelian physics lasted long not because it became dogma, but because it is a very good theory"

http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/10964/

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Author Jerzy Kowalski-Glikman replied on Feb. 23, 2015 @ 13:34 GMT
Dear Efthimios Harokopos,

Thank you for reading my essay and for bringing to my attention an interesting paper by Rovelli. It is a very enjoyable reading, although I have a number of reservation about the claims presented there.

I agree with you that the subject is quite involved, but I do not share your opinion that my essay “presented a one-sided view of Aristotelian physics”. First of all, in my essay I discussed Aristotelean methodology, not physics. Secondly, even from the perspective of physics, there is no doubt that the transition from the Aristotelean to Newtonian physics was a major breakthrough. This is this transition that I am concerned with, pointing out that being understandably proud of what has been achieved in science in the last 300 years, we should not forget that something was inevitably lost.

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Sujatha Jagannathan wrote on Feb. 26, 2015 @ 17:21 GMT
Great piece with phenomenon mentions.

Regards,

Miss. Sujatha Jagannathan

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Ed Unverricht wrote on Feb. 28, 2015 @ 18:40 GMT
I would like to respectfully disagree with your conclusion "Science is now just about numbers and formulas. This is the major price that we had to pay for mathematics."

Mathematics when used as a framework for models, in my opinion, does not extract a price, but does establish the framework. Frameworks outside of mathematics do not provide enough structure to any model to give people confidence in the results and produce very poor predictions.

Hope you get a chance to look at my essay, I directly model the mathematical framework of the Standard Model and feel that the mathematics of the models is the backbone to the reliability and predictive power of the model.

This is a well written essay containing a lot of interesting history. Well done, enjoyed reading it.

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Conrad Dale Johnson wrote on Mar. 4, 2015 @ 13:50 GMT
Jerzy,

I appreciate your very thoughtful and well-written essay. It's not really possible to think through these issues without a historical perspective, reminding us that many different ways of thinking about the world were needed to get us where we are now.

When I wrote my essay, I was thinking about the shift in thinking about the role of mathematics around the start of the 20th century. Earlier, as you probably know, Maxwell took his equations for the electromagnetic field as pointing to something that needed to be understood about the underlying physics. He tried several times to construct a mechanistic theory of the ether to support his equations, without success. Finally Helmholtz promoted the idea that the equations themselves constituted a complete understanding of the physical field.

Of course this idea that physics is essentially just the mathematics became dominant with the emergence of quantum theory. Now we more or less take for granted that accurate statements in fundamental physics can only be expressed mathematically. The irony of the situation is that if Max Planck hadn't been determined to find a deeper physical meaning behind his equation for black-body radiation in 1900, the quantum of action might still be undiscovered today.

As my essay suggests, I don't think we should give up on finding a deeper meaning in the language of equations. But I agree with you that "to tackle these problems, we will probably have to transcend the current scientific paradigm."

Thanks – Conrad

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Akinbo Ojo wrote on Mar. 8, 2015 @ 16:56 GMT
Dear Jerzy,

You put your well considered thoughts in a concise way of about 5 pages. The only aspect that I would seek clarification is from your statements quoting Aristotle that Metaphysics deals with entities that do not change and have an independent existence, Physics, or natural philosophy, with entities that change and have an independent existence and Mathematics with entities that do not change and do not have an independent existence.

Are entities in Metaphysics and Mathematics eternally existing or can they perish?If the Universe has a beginning and can eventually perish will these entities outlive the Universe? If so, where would these entities be resident?

All the best in the competition. I will check back in a few days to see if you make any clarifications.

Best regards,

Akinbo

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Author Jerzy Kowalski-Glikman replied on Mar. 16, 2015 @ 11:29 GMT
Dear Akinbo,

Thanks for your post.

I'm afraid I'm neither a professional historian nor philosophers and my knowledge of the Aristotle's philosophy is based on reading the history of philosophy textbooks, not my own studies.

I'm not sure if your question is meaningful in the context of Aristotle's philosophical system, because he believed that the material world is eternal. As F. Copleston puts it (A History of Philosophy Vol. I, Ch. XXIX, sect. 13)

"Every motion [...] requires an actual moving cause, then the world in general, the universe, requires a First Mover. It is important, however, to note that the word "First" must not be understood temporally, since motion, according to Aristotle, is necessary eternal [...] The First Mover is the eternal source of eternal motion."

If you're interested, please read this section of the Copleston's (or any other) textbook on Aristotle's metaphysics.

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Armin Nikkhah Shirazi wrote on Apr. 5, 2015 @ 21:10 GMT
Dear Jerzy,

You put your finger on some very subtle issues the importance of which I am afraid will escape many readers because it is rare for a person who by training and vocation is so steeped in a particular methodological paradigm to be able to take a step back and compare it to others. I'd like to laud you for that.

I happened to recently take a philosophy course called "The...

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Alexey/Lev Burov wrote on Apr. 17, 2015 @ 02:36 GMT
Dear Jerzy,

Greetings! I enjoyed your deep, clear and well–written essay, and I give you the highest rating. I do not see anything to criticize; your conclusion is impressive and convincing:

““The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless” Steven Weinberg proudly proclaims. He simply fails to notice that in the framework of modern physics it is meaningless to ask about meaning. More than 300 years ago, facing the dawn of modern science Blaise Pascal famously bemoaned “The eternal silence of these infinite spaces frightens me.”For many of his great contemporaries, Descartes, Spinoza, Newton, Leibnitz, to name just a few, understanding nature was an important part of the synthesis they seek, the synthesis that would tell us, what is the meaning of human life. We long abandoned such grandiose projects. Science is now just about numbers and formulas. This is the major price that we had to pay for mathematics.”

In our essay we are refuting Tegmark’s attempt to explain why the laws of nature are the way they are, concluding that this problem cannot be answered scientifically. I hope this sounds interesting to you; I would certainly appreciate your comments to our essay, critical or otherwise.

Cheers,

Alexey Burov.

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