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What Is “Fundamental”
October 28, 2017 to January 22, 2018
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Wandering Towards a Goal
How can mindless mathematical laws give rise to aims and intention?
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Trick or Truth: The Mysterious Connection Between Physics and Mathematics
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How Should Humanity Steer the Future?
January 9, 2014 - August 31, 2014
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It From Bit or Bit From It
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Which of Our Basic Physical Assumptions Are Wrong?
May 24 - August 31, 2012
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Is Reality Digital or Analog?
November 2010 - February 2011
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What's Ultimately Possible in Physics?
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RECENT POSTS IN THIS TOPIC

Cristinel Stoica: on 3/13/18 at 10:58am UTC, wrote Dear Sylvia, Very good essay. You said "If we want to see things for what...

Don Limuti: on 2/27/18 at 4:26am UTC, wrote Hi Silvia, I know when an essay is good when I read the whole and feel as...

Steven Andresen: on 2/22/18 at 6:36am UTC, wrote Dear Silvia If you are looking for another essay to read and rate in the...

jason Roy: on 2/20/18 at 5:02am UTC, wrote Get the simplest method where you can get online tutorial about how to ...

Steve Dufourny: on 2/19/18 at 13:21pm UTC, wrote Hello dear Mrs Wenmackers, Congratulations for your essay, I liked it a...

Dean Rickles: on 2/16/18 at 10:49am UTC, wrote Hi Sylvia. Liked the essay a lot. But curious as to why you line project...

Satyavarapu Gupta: on 2/14/18 at 1:17am UTC, wrote Respected Prof Sylvia Wenmackers, You are exactly correct in the...

Juan Ramón González Álvarez: on 2/6/18 at 23:24pm UTC, wrote Is physical chemistry more applied or less abstract than solid state...


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FQXi FORUM
June 4, 2020

CATEGORY: FQXi Essay Contest - Spring, 2017 [back]
TOPIC: Seek Fundamentality, and Distrust It by Sylvia Wenmackers [refresh]
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Author Sylvia Wenmackers wrote on Feb. 2, 2018 @ 18:49 GMT
Essay Abstract

Physics has inherited two projects from the ancient natural philosophers: one searches for concrete elements, the other for abstract principles. At least since Comte, there is a prevalent, reductionist idea that both the natural world itself and our theories are organized in strata, which match perfectly. By making this assumption explicit, we can investigate it critically and consider an alternative picture: that of physics as a platform game. This enables us to embrace pluralism about theoretical foundations and to reject overly bold claims about what is fundamental in the concrete world.

Author Bio

Sylvia Wenmackers is a professor in the Philosophy of Science at KU Leuven (Belgium). She studied Theoretical Physics and obtained a Ph.D. in Physics (2008) as well as in Philosophy (2011). In her current project, she explores the foundations of physics, with a special interest in infinitesimals and probabilities.

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Joe Fisher wrote on Feb. 2, 2018 @ 22:13 GMT
Dear Professor Sylvia Wenmackers,

FQXi.org is clearly seeking to confirm whether Nature is fundamental.

Reliable evidence exists that proves that the surface of the earth was formed millions of years before man and his utterly complex finite informational systems ever appeared on that surface. It logically follows that Nature must have permanently devised the only single physical construct of earth allowable.

All objects, be they solid, liquid, or vaporous have always had a visible surface. This is because the real Universe must consist only of one single unified VISIBLE infinite surface occurring eternally in one single infinite dimension that am always illuminated mostly by finite non-surface light.

Only the truth can set you free.

Joe Fisher, Realist

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post approved


Marcel-Marie LeBel wrote on Feb. 3, 2018 @ 17:04 GMT
Sylvia,

Excellent essay. The power of philosophy is there. Two concepts of natural metaphysics were “substance” and “cause”. The universe is *spontaneous* and the logical causality is built in.



In my essay I claim the following: “...we have something like the “how gravity works” of Newton, the “how gravity works” of Einstein, the “how gravity works” (MOND) of Milgrom, etc. Do we really need anymore “how gravity works” theories? These theories are just a sample from a large number of possible theories or descriptions for the very same event. On the other hand, asking the question “why gravity works” would address the only possible logical reason for this one event to happen by itself.”

The essay suggests such single substance, single cause and single logical operation. These are, I believe, ontological fundamentals.

All the bests,

Marcel,

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Member Tejinder Pal Singh wrote on Feb. 3, 2018 @ 17:53 GMT
Dear Professor Wenmackers,

I read your essay with pleasure - it is a brilliant piece of work. Absolutely spot on in addressing the question asked in the contest, and providing new insights. My compliments!

With regards,

Tejinder

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Dizhechko Boris Semyonovich wrote on Feb. 4, 2018 @ 16:38 GMT
Dear Sylvia Wenmackers, “The guiding motto in the life of every natural philosopher should be, Seek simplicity and distrust it.” Простота в идентичности пространства и материи. Дакарт говорил «Дайте мне материю и я построю весь мир». При этом он утверждал, что пространство – это материя, а материя – это пространство. Материя двигается, следовательно и пространство двигается.

Вас может заинтересовать моё эссе: FQXi Fundamental in New Cartesian Physics by Dizhechko Boris Semyonovich Where I showed how radically the physics can change if it follows this principle. Evaluate and leave your comment there. Then I'll give you a rating as the bearer of Descartes' idea. Do not allow New Cartesian Physics go away into nothingness, which wants to be the theory of everything OO.

Sincerely, Dizhechko Boris Semyonovich.

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Dizhechko Boris Semyonovich replied on Feb. 4, 2018 @ 16:45 GMT
Dear Sylvia Wenmackers, Sorry, I am not the whole post translated into English “The guiding motto in the life of every natural philosopher should be, Seek simplicity and distrust it.” Simplicity in the identity of space and matter. Descartes said, "Give me the matter and I will build the whole world." At the same time he argued that space is matter, and matter is space. Matter moves, hence space moves.

You may be interested in my essay: FQXi Fundamental in New Cartesian Physics by Dizhechko Boris Semyonovich Where I showed how radically the physics can change if it follows this principle. Evaluate and leave your comment there. Then I'll give you a rating as the bearer of Descartes' idea. Do not allow New Cartesian Physics go away into nothingness, which wants to be the theory of everything OO.

Sincerely, Dizhechko Boris Semyonovich.

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Francesco D'Isa wrote on Feb. 5, 2018 @ 13:05 GMT
Dear Sylvia,

I really appreciated your essay, it's interesting and well written, I wish you all the best for the contest! I've to say that I loved your style as well: the platform metaphor was great and it was funny to find xkcd quoted in an essay.

You write that

> ‘Fundamental’ can be used as a comparative notion.

and I completely agree; I reach similar conclusions in my essay about Nagarjuna and absolute relativism. Then in the end you say,

> This allows me to explain the title of this essay: while we look for what is fundamental, we should not jump to conclusions about the physical world once we believe we’ve found something. ‘Fundamental’ is best left as an epistemic term, rather than an ontological claim .

I also agree, but in a more broader sense I wonder: we have good and sound reasons to distrust our means to know the world, but does not every refusal of any epistemic > ontological link lead to skepticism? Of course, skepticism is always an honest philosophical point of view, but it should lead to distrust himself as well.

All the best,

Francesco D'Isa

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Steven Andresen wrote on Feb. 6, 2018 @ 05:03 GMT
Dear Sylvia Wenmackers

Just letting you know that I am making a start on reading of your essay, and hope that you might also take a glance over mine please? I look forward to the sharing of thoughtful opinion. Congratulations on your essay rating as it stands, and best of luck for the contest conclusion.

My essay is titled

“Darwinian Universal Fundamental Origin”. It stands as a novel test for whether a natural organisational principle can serve a rationale, for emergence of complex systems of physics and cosmology. I will be interested to have my effort judged on both the basis of prospect and of novelty.

Thank you & kind regards

Steven Andresen

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post approved


Juan Ramón González Álvarez wrote on Feb. 6, 2018 @ 23:24 GMT
Is physical chemistry more applied or less abstract than solid state physics? In what planet? The rest of the Fig 3 diagram is misleading as well.

The particles described in gauge quantum field theory aren't real. E.g. the electron that appears in the Lagrangian of the Standard Model is not a real electron like those one can find and measure in the laboratory, but a fictitious and unphysical electron named bare electron. It is only after a renormalization procedure that those bare electrons are eliminated from the equations and replaced by real electrons. Regarding the footnote 8, let me emphasize that what we measure in the lab are particles, not fields.

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Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta wrote on Feb. 14, 2018 @ 01:17 GMT
Respected Prof Sylvia Wenmackers,

You are exactly correct in the OP...."Physics has inherited two projects from the ancient natural philosophers: one searches for concrete elements, the other for abstract principles. At least since Comte, there is a prevalent, reductionist idea that both the natural world itself and our theories are organized in strata, which match perfectly.'..... Very...

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Member Dean Rickles wrote on Feb. 16, 2018 @ 10:49 GMT
Hi Sylvia. Liked the essay a lot. But curious as to why you line project (2) up with epistemological only? Who said the principles (archai) can't be viewed ontological? What is the argument? I give a couple of examples in my own essay, and a few others have done the same.

Best,

Dean

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Steve Dufourny wrote on Feb. 19, 2018 @ 13:21 GMT
Hello dear Mrs Wenmackers,

Congratulations for your essay, I liked it a lot.

I am happy to see a belgian thinker, I come from Belgium also, near Bergen in wallonia

Best Regards

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jason Roy wrote on Feb. 20, 2018 @ 05:02 GMT
Get the simplest method where you can get online tutorial about how to

play dvd in windows 10 without downloading any file or something.

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post approved


Steven Andresen wrote on Feb. 22, 2018 @ 06:36 GMT
Dear Silvia

If you are looking for another essay to read and rate in the final days of the contest, will you consider mine please? I read all essays from those who comment on my page, and if I cant rate an essay highly, then I don’t rate them at all. Infact I haven’t issued a rating lower that ten. So you have nothing to lose by having me read your essay, and everything to...

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Don Limuti wrote on Feb. 27, 2018 @ 04:26 GMT
Hi Silvia,

I know when an essay is good when I read the whole and feel as if I learned something. Seek Fundamentality, and Distrust It! The maps of hierarchies and platforms were effective in getting the point across.

Thanks for an excellent essay,

Don Limuti

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Cristinel Stoica wrote on Mar. 13, 2018 @ 10:58 GMT
Dear Sylvia,

Very good essay. You said "If we want to see things for what they really are, we must escape the intricate poetry of our language", and indeed we seem to agree that mathematics provides a clearer, though more abstract, language. We agree also on "it seems wiser to reserve the adjective 'fundamental' to abstract, formal and mathematical entities", and that a pluralist view, acknowledging subjectivity, contextualism, and relativity, is essential. You said "Fundamental (or funny, beautiful, or important) to whom? And in what context?". We have personalized Ockham's razors, shaped by our own personal experiences, which are subjective. So "what's fundamental" is as relative as "what's simple". I also liked your patchwork view of physics showing more applied theories and subfields. Yes, I think it is justified to see the fundamental [at other levels too]. Here are some possible updates to the xkcd "Comte’s hierarchy" [1, 2] :)

Good luck with the finals!

Best wishes,

Cristi Stoica, Indra's net

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