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nancy walters: on 5/19/20 at 2:03am UTC, wrote Dear Fabien Paillusson, I agree "there is an 'art' involved in taking a...

Alan Kadin: on 5/15/20 at 13:36pm UTC, wrote Dear Drs. Paillusson and Booth, I read your essay with great interest. ...

Fabien Paillusson: on 5/13/20 at 13:31pm UTC, wrote Thank you for having read our essay and for the further thoughts about it. ...

Fabien Paillusson: on 5/11/20 at 12:47pm UTC, wrote Dear Jason, Thank you for your comment and for the positive feedback. ...

Michael Kewming: on 5/10/20 at 1:48am UTC, wrote Dear Fabien and Matthew, Thank you for the interesting philosophical...

Jason Steinmetz: on 5/7/20 at 21:28pm UTC, wrote You wrote: "The title of this essay implies there is an ‘art’ involved...

Ernesto Vaca: on 4/30/20 at 5:13am UTC, wrote Dear Fabien, Sorry for the late reply, this has been a hectic couple of...

Fabien Paillusson: on 4/26/20 at 9:25am UTC, wrote Dear Mozibur, Thank you very much for having taken the time to read our...


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FQXi FORUM
September 21, 2021

CATEGORY: Undecidability, Uncomputability, and Unpredictability Essay Contest (2019-2020) [back]
TOPIC: Physics and science: the art of taking a stance about undecidable questions by Fabien Paillusson [refresh]
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Author Fabien Paillusson wrote on Apr. 9, 2020 @ 10:50 GMT
Essay Abstract

In the past century many fundamental results on unpredictability, undecidability and uncertainty have compelled scientists to grapple with the idea that some questions may never be resolved within our current theories. While this existential crisis may appear to be new, we develop the view that it has a long history and that, in fact, providing closure to undecidable questions is a defining feature of scientific practice and development. We support our claim with historical and contemporary examples and suggest that the crux of many instances of undecidability in science is a form of invalid induction. Finally, we use our thesis to discuss the place of mathematics in the sciences, and to assess whether or not certain perspectives in the philosophy of mind might provide us with closure.

Author Bio

Fabien Paillusson is a senior lecturer in the School of Mathematics and Physics at the University of Lincoln, UK. His interests range from soft matter computational modelling to foundational issues in physics. Matthew Booth is a lecturer in the School of Mathematics and Physics at the University of Lincoln, UK. His interests range from photophysics of semiconductor nanomaterials to the philosophy of science.

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H.H.J. Luediger wrote on Apr. 9, 2020 @ 14:31 GMT
Dear Fabien Paillusson,

I loved your: “When Chuck Norris makes an inductive inference, it becomes deductive”

which I elsewhere framed as:

Science is about giving answers making scientists flush red about the questions they have previously been trying to answer.

Nevertheless, I have not succeeded to find this (the 'Chuck-Norris-discontinuous-continuity') clarified in your essay. You say there are scientific and philosophical questions, but I don't manage to find out from the text what the precise difference is. Do philosophers simply take over from scientists when the latter got stuck, do scientists turn into philosophers under such conditions, or is the subject of philosophy radically different from the subject of science?

good luck,

Heinz

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Author Fabien Paillusson replied on Apr. 9, 2020 @ 15:58 GMT
Dear Heinz,

Thank you for your comment.

With regards to your question, our thesis is that philosophical questions are undecidable. This does not mean that an answer has not yet been proposed, but rather that no method has been proposed by which people may agree on an answer. The reference to the Chuck Norris quote is meant to suggest that most of the time the undecidable character...

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John David Crowell wrote on Apr. 10, 2020 @ 01:56 GMT
Fabian and Matthew. I liked your essay and I think my essay would be interesting for you to read and compare to your thoughts. I introduce a new level of fundamentals that unifies the fundamentals of all of the sciences, mathematics, computability, philosophy and religion. Those fundamentals are the basis of a Successful Self Creation process that has its own “halting” solution and creates finite results. In its processing it creates Quantum Mechanics, Planck Actions and the variables/ relationships of time, space, mass, speed and direction that are the basis for the Relativity theories. This combination is the basis for a complete theory of physical reality. SSC is also is the basis for the creation of intelligence and its incorporation into the SSC realm of existence. Consciousness is a component of this intelligence. I believe the SSC and the new level of creation is the something that has been missing from a comprehensive overall (framework) understanding of ordered existence. I would appreciate your comments on how my essay fits with your thoughts. John Crowell

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Author Fabien Paillusson replied on Apr. 10, 2020 @ 12:51 GMT
Dear John,

Thank you for your comment. As for your essay, I will read it and come back to you in the corresponding thread.

Best,

Fabien

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Jochen Szangolies wrote on Apr. 10, 2020 @ 10:09 GMT
Dear Fabien,

it's the nature of every age to think its problems unique, and the role of history to point out they aren't. Taking a historical stance towards the problems of undecidability (etc.) is thus, I think, a necessary and welcome addition to this essay contest.

Furthermore, there tends to be a kind of intellectual chauvinism directed towards past generations---they back then...

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Author Fabien Paillusson replied on Apr. 10, 2020 @ 13:26 GMT
Dear Jochen,

Thank you very much for your very insightful comment!

I am happy you seemed to have enjoyed our essay.

Just to follow up on some of your comments:

- I must say that I was unaware of Solomonoff's induction programme. Thank you very much for mentioning it that will be a valuable thing to look into.

- Yes, as you say, as far as we describe it in the essay there is no end to the process of generating daughter questions from philosophical ones. Although we did not have the space to go further, it is often the case as well that philosophical questions can emerge from specific set of principles which were used to transform another philosophical question into a scientific one.

- With regards to questions like "Why is there something rather than nothing?" whose substance could essentially be lost by being substituted with scientific ones, I totally agree that this could happen and, in fact, wonder if this has not happened may times in the past and we are simply oblivious to it now. For example, the very deep questioning of Parmenides and Zeno on change have been replaced, in my opinion, by empty mathematical questions on the convergence of geometric series (answers to these questions are obviously mathematically rich but by stripping off all the philosophical content, it is difficult to evaluate how such mathematical answers do actually provide closure to the initial philosophical questions). That is the reason why, as you say, historians, scientists and philosophers alike should keep track of these things. Ernst Mach in fact was already calling upon the apparent arrogance of his contemporaries in the first pages of his critics of mechanics.

- I look forward to reading your essay and commenting on it in the corresponding thread.

- With regards to consciousness, I will have a look at your paper and possibly continue the discussion here or elsewhere :) .

Many thanks.

Fabien

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Jochen Szangolies replied on Apr. 18, 2020 @ 07:35 GMT
Dear Fabien,

thanks for your reply. I'm desperately trying to juggle different conversational threads in this contest, so I apologize if I might sometimes take a while to respond.

I think that the issue of losing the substance of a question due to a 'translation' into the scientific realm is an important one---and incidentally, I agree (and have made the point a few times myself) with your example of Zeno's paradoxes. In a sense, the mathematical 'answer' doesn't really tell us anything at all about how motion is possible; it gives a description, but does not really dispel the mystery. That description, of course, can also be had by simply moving to the other side of the room, or overtaking tortoises (I tried it, it's possible---how's that for empirical philosophy?).

That said, the questions spawned in the scientific realm are in themselves important ones---not least because answering them allows us to build nice things, like computers and rockets. So I think, we must find a way to keep both in view---not in the competitive sense that's often on display in the present discourse, with scientists belittling philosophers as having nothing to say with many words, and philosophers deriding scientism (both of which are, incidentally, sometimes also valid complaints), but rather, in a mutually reinforcing way.

The German physicist and philosopher Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker coined the term 'Kreisgang', literally something like 'circle-walk' or 'circumnavigation'---we return to the same topics, with a deepened understanding, and lift them again onto a higher level of appreciation. This is something that, I think, we should strive the interaction between philosophy and science to further---the philosophical questions spawning scientific investigations, which in turn help us to rephrase the philosophical issues, and so on.

Perhaps there's some way of expressing this more clearly; I shall think about that.

Cheers

Jochen

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Author Fabien Paillusson replied on Apr. 18, 2020 @ 09:43 GMT
Dear Jochen,

Yes I totally agree with your view here. I do believe scientific questions are important, first because they allow a given perspective to be followed through and through for a relatively long time. Second because, from them, may emerge new philosophical questions too. And third, because ultimately they strongly participate to enrich our understanding of a topic.

Reading on the history of science, scientists in the first half of the 20th century were, for the most part, all versed in literary subjects and very much so in philosophy. Later on, Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker (whose writings I do enjoy very much) did try to bring closer philosophy and the sciences and was somehow disappointed at the lack of literary culture of the new scientists he saw emerging in his time.

That philosophy appears to be entirely separated from the sciences and possibly "dead" appears to me as a somewhat recent (post-war) phenomenon that has been further fuelled by events like the "science wars" in the 1990s and by the two-culture paradigm. Whether this schism will survive the various challenges that we have to face nowadays, which call upon moderation, humility and collaboration from all sides, we will see.

That being said FQXi does manage to bring like-minded people from philosophy and the sciences by making them interact on questions where there is still much contention or where an apparent consensus can be looked at with a more critical outlook. That is an opportunity that should not be missed indeed.

Best,

Fabien

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John C Hodge wrote on Apr. 10, 2020 @ 17:59 GMT
I think I get your point. But, let me add some history.

At Newton's time, the Ptolemaic model was more accurate than the Copernican model (Copernicus still had circular orbits) AND the Copernican model had a falsifier. The falsifier was that Galileo attempted to find parallax in the stars and failed. The parallax waited until the 1830s to be found and the size of the universe accordingly increased.

The Ptolemaic model was essentially a Fourier series. That is, it was more accurate for any periodic orbit by just adding terms. This is a similar condition to modern use of Fourier.

Thanks for your good points.

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Author Fabien Paillusson replied on Apr. 10, 2020 @ 18:56 GMT
Dear John,

Thank you for having read the essay and for your comment.

Yes indeed the Copernicus model was less accurate than the Ptolemaic one and it could be refuted on various empirical grounds (like absence of parallax). That is the reason why we said in 1st paragraph on page 3 that "despite having no empirical evidence" Copernicus still insisted his view was correct; and many...

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John C Hodge replied on Apr. 11, 2020 @ 14:21 GMT
Thanks.

Apologies, I was addressing your "empirically undecidable" issue. Between the 2 models, it eventually became observationally decidable.

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Author Fabien Paillusson replied on Apr. 11, 2020 @ 15:36 GMT
John,

Unless I made a mistake in my last observation I do not believe this is the case. It is not absolutely decidable on the sole observational basis. One needs to assume the background of the fixed stars to be fixed for the parallax evidence to actually make the problem decidable from astronomical observations.

If the stars in the background are not fixed, the reality of their observed motion from the Earth becomes as undecidable as that of other planets and the Sun.

So, you are right that it did support a non-geocentric view but this was not for free.

Best,

Fabien

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Israel Perez wrote on Apr. 10, 2020 @ 21:10 GMT
Dear Fabien

Nice and well thought essay. You deal with several important topics; particularly the topic of consciousness. I disagree with the statement that science leaves some problems to philosophy. I think it is the opposite way, for the last 5 centuries science has taken from philosophy many unresolved problems and have solved some of them. I conceived science as an evolved philosophy, after all philosophy also have tried to understand the world. I have a couple of books that deal with the most important problems in philosophy (authored by George Moore and Russell, respectively) and most of these problems have not been solved. For instance the problem of space and time, have been led by physics in the last 3 or 4 centuries, philosophers have contributed almost nothing to these concepts. Unfortunately, in my opinion, philosophy is nowadays more a reviewer of science than an author of science.

You deal with the topic of geocentrism and heliocentrism which is very interesting. In my essay I give a short discussion on absolutism and relativism; perhaps you may be interested in taking a look at my essay. I would be glad to see some comments from you.

Good luck in the contest!

Israel

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Author Fabien Paillusson replied on Apr. 11, 2020 @ 08:43 GMT
Dear Israel,

Thank you for having taken the time to read our essay.

With regards to your comment on science versus philosophy. Would you have an example in the last 5 centuries where science has brought definitive closure to a philosophical question?

Many thanks.

Best,

Fabien

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Israel Perez replied on Apr. 12, 2020 @ 14:41 GMT
Dear Fabien and Matthew

Traditionally, philosophy has tried to give a description of the universe, understand it in all aspects: economic, natural, social, cultural, abstract, etc. However, since the enlightenment, science started replacing many branches of philosophy. Science can be understood today as an evolved philosophy. In other words, philosophy is just a primitive way of doing science. Besides the methods used by philosophers, scientists also used math and experimentation. For this reason science has been more successful than philosophy in understanding the world.

Philosophy started "dying" in 1686 when Newton taught us how theories have to be done. Before Newton people did just philosophy. Newton put philosophy in mathematical formulations and carried out experiments to quantitatively verify theoretical predictions. Thanks to this, we have made great progress in our endeavor to understand how the universe works. Topics that were discussed in philosophical circles were later addressed in scientific terms, that is, formulated in mathematical terms and measured with precision. For instance the concepts of space and time were advanced by relativity, we now know that they depend on speed and gravity. Achieving this level of knowledge was the result of studying electromagnetic effects in systems in motion. This understanding would not be possible by mere philosophical methods. The nature of matter is another traditional philosophical problem that has been largely advanced by science in the last 3 centuries. Other topics include the essence of life and consciousness, just to mention the most relevant.

Regards

Israel

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Author Fabien Paillusson replied on Apr. 12, 2020 @ 16:24 GMT
Dear Israel,

Thank you for your reply.

Of course Newton's work constitutes a breakthrough of a sort that by no means we wish to diminish (and we absolutely don't in our essay).

Have you read Mach's critique of Newton's work by any chance?

Best,

Fabien

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Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Apr. 10, 2020 @ 21:37 GMT
Dear Fabian and Matthew,

I like your title: “...taking a stance about undecidable issues. I treat essentially that issue in my essay Deciding on the nature of time and space where I deal with the issue, “which world view is real?”. I invite you to read it and welcome comments.

I think it’s appropriate that you apply these ideas to the problem of consciousness. You discuss various concepts and note that some strong forms of panpsychism suggest that electrons have some degree of consciousness. To my way of thinking panpsychism is more of a field phenomenon, and the primordial field is gravity, whose nonlinear self-interactions can be thought of as implying a minimal ‘self-awareness’. Any moving mass density, such as the extremely dense electron, will induce local gravitomagnetic circulation in the field, thus ‘coupling’ the matter to the consciousness field and at the same time providing a deBroglie-like wave associated with the particle. This posits a Wheeler-like universe in which consciousness exists at the creation and evolves to the present.

One can only hint at this in a comment, but the idea answers some of Chalmers ’hard’ problems. I address similar issues in The Nature of Mind, which had the top community rating in the 2016-2017 contest.

Good luck in the contest, you’re off to a good start.

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Author Fabien Paillusson replied on Apr. 11, 2020 @ 08:52 GMT
Dear Edwin,

Thank you for having taken the time to read our essay. I hope you did find some propositions in there insightful.

With regards to your field view of panpsychism where gravity would relate to consciousness, would you agree to see this as a form of functionalism as we describe at the end of our essay with IIT or Tegrmark's pattern of communication channel ideas for example?

That is to say, a given pattern of the gravitational field will correspond to a certain degree of consciousness.

Or am I missing something?

As a personal side note, I am quite sympathetic to the idea of a field of consciousness. The point is whether this field is already described by our physical theories or whether one needs to add a new one.

Many thanks for your insights.

Best,

Fabien

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Edwin Eugene Klingman replied on Apr. 12, 2020 @ 15:04 GMT
Dear Fabien,

Probably I would say that the complexity density of a given pattern will correspond to a certain ‘degree’ of consciousness. The most ‘dense’ or complex patterns exist in the brain where we find the highest degree of consciousness.

You agree that a consciousness field is not unreasonable and ask whether this field is already described by our physical theories or...

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Edwin Eugene Klingman replied on Apr. 25, 2020 @ 03:05 GMT
Dear Fabien,

You said above that your are quite sympathetic to a field of consciousness. Some new information became available 3 days after your comment, and I have included it in my re-written essay. It is now the last 3 pages of my essay. I do think that you would find it worthwhile to read these 3 pages.

Best regards,

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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John C Hodge wrote on Apr. 11, 2020 @ 14:42 GMT
RE: EPR

Another conclusion is EPR is true with ALL interactions occurring at speeds >> c (non-local). Newton's planet model works if the gravity speed >>c as van Flandern and others measured.

Thanks for you insights. I wish you had said a bit more on the crisis in physics (GR vs QM - which or neither or both as part of a larger model). For example, Newton had his gravity in Principia but followed it with an aether model which suggested the same cause of gravity (big) and diffraction of light (small) with corpuscles warping the aether and the aether directing corpuscles in Opticks.

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Author Fabien Paillusson replied on Apr. 11, 2020 @ 15:51 GMT
John,

Thank you for suggesting further ideas.The GR vs QM would fit within the problem of contrastive underdetermination and we can interpret the current programme of find a theory that combines the two as the belief that there is "better" theory, in some sense, than the existing alternative of having GR and QM kind of separate. The request for unification appears to me as an aesthetic constraint.

I have read Optiks some time ago and light as being made of particles is only addressed in the last book from what I remember. I do not recall the aether argument. Would you have a link to suggest where these ideas are explored further?

Thank you.

Best,

Fabien

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John C Hodge wrote on Apr. 12, 2020 @ 14:15 GMT
Newton "Opticks" 1730 edition, book number: 0-486-60205-2 (Dover Publications, Inc., New York, 1979) (careful - different editions have different Query numbering)

Qu. 1 Masses bend passing light and amount inverse to distance.

Qu. 3 Light passing close to edges are diffracted in fringes.

Qu. 4 Light path begins to bend BEFORE reaching body or slit.

Qu. 5 Light heats mass.

Qu. 6 Black bodies absorb all light.

Qu. 8 Black body radiation.

Qu. 11 Sun and stars are black body radiators.

Qu. 17 suggested the corpuscles are pushed around (divergence of the aether's density) by waves that "overtake" the rays of light - Because this aether also causes the gravity effect, the waves in the aether travel faster than light - its not a big stretch to say MUCH faster than light.

Qu. 18 suggests a Medium that refracts and reflects light that allows light to heat effect bodies.

Qu. 19 suggest the refraction of light implies differing densities of the Medium.

Calls it "...this aether Medium..". Density of the aether GREATER in "...free and open spaces void of air and other grosser bodies...".

Qu. 20 the density increase (ie divergence) refract light.

Qu. 21 Aether rarer within dense bodies and increase with distance and "...thereby cause the gravity of those great bodies; every body endeavoring to go from the denser parts of the medium towards the rarer?". Also suggests light travel faster in the void (denser parts of the aether). Hence today we see the Shapiro delay. Also suggests the aether is so rare as to not impede the planets revolution (no aether wind).

Also, video showing diffraction using a toy computer simulation following Newton's queries:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMAjKk6k6-k&t=18s

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Author Fabien Paillusson replied on Apr. 12, 2020 @ 16:16 GMT
Thank you. Will have a closer look.

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Ernesto Vaca wrote on Apr. 14, 2020 @ 19:47 GMT
Hi Fabien,

Thank you for the essay, I enjoyed it very much!

Do you think it would ever be possible to reach an end to science? To answer in a satisfactory way all or most questions that are able to be answered? And How do you you feel Godel's undecidability and Turing's uncomputibility fit into science, if you feel they do at all? Would love to hear your opinions on these topics.

Best regards,

Ernesto

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Author Fabien Paillusson replied on Apr. 15, 2020 @ 09:51 GMT
Dear Ernesto,

Thank you for your comments. We do hope you found some aspects insightful.

With regards to the "End of Science", with the thesis we defend in our essay, it is possible to reach a state where scientists believe that "they have got the whole picture right" and maybe what remains to be done is just getting better and better quantitative agreement between theory and...

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Ernesto Vaca replied on Apr. 30, 2020 @ 05:13 GMT
Dear Fabien,

Sorry for the late reply, this has been a hectic couple of weeks for me.

Thank you for your detailed reply, it has been very insightful. I agree with you, what you say about not everybody agreeing with when the "end of science" would occur. The examples you provided are a helpful way to think about that type of situation, though I am not too familiar with what you are speaking about with Copernicus, so I will have to look that one up a little more. Thank you again.

Sincerely,

Ernesto

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Mozibur Rahman Ullah wrote on Apr. 25, 2020 @ 07:08 GMT
Dear Fabien,

I very much agree with your observation that there are many undecidable problems in science and the art of doing science is to focus on the what is possible to solve.

I do realise that you are using the evolution of our understanding of the solar system as an illustration of how under-determination works in science. However, I always found it intriguing that Aristarchos came up with a heliocentric system two millenia ago and I would dearly have loved to know just what kind of debates were raging then about that particular theory.

I've also always suspected the influence of Eastern philosophy on quantum mechanics, especially given Wigners notion that consciousness causes collapse, though he leaves unexplained in his paper just how collapse is going to occur when no-one is actually around - which would have been the case - to play on the safe side - before the earth was actually formed (I also recently discovered that Schrodinger was well read in Vedanta, via Schopenhauer). One possibility of course is that reality, in some manner, has mental attributes. This of course is a flavour of idealism and so far out of the epistemology and methodology of mainstream science that its hard to know just how they could possibly conceive it. Perhaps this means philosophy can be safely left to philosophers, especially those of the idealist stripe - still I find it worthwhile thinking on these topics and take encouragement from the fact that this didn't stop scientists of the calibre of Schrodinger or Wigner from doing so.

I wish you all the best in the competition.

Warm wishes

Mozibur Ullah

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Author Fabien Paillusson replied on Apr. 26, 2020 @ 09:25 GMT
Dear Mozibur,

Thank you very much for having taken the time to read our essay. I am happy to read that our thesis seems to resonate with some of your views.

With regards to your first question on Aristarchus, I must confess that I knew that he, and others before like Pythagoras, had proposed heliocentric models which somehow did not "take off" so to speak, but I do not know the exact details.

I personally believe that sense data is a very difficult argument to overcome. Now, I am not an expert in antiquity and some much more knowledgeable than I am on the matter have discussed your question here (https://hsm.stackexchange.com/questions/1979/why-didnt-aris
tarchus-theory-of-heliocentrism-stick) for example. I found the discussion therein particularly illuminating.

As for the influence that Eastern Philosophy has probably had on the development of quantum mechanics, I totally agree with you. Most physicists of then were versed in their classics of Western philosophy and many appeared to think that physics and Western thought had reached a stalled state and were looking for ideas in Eastern philosophy. While you mention Wigners and Schrodinger (I would have to read more about them), interestingly I would have directly mentioned Bohr (who famously designed his coat of arms with the Yin-Yang symbol at its centre and strongly advocated for a universal form of his Complementarity Principle) or Pauli (who developed a theory with Jung on the I Ching and thought that there were there principles that would enable physics to move forward).

This is not to say that the development of quantum mechanics was not also driven by experimental results, but the inconceivability of these results within the inherited Western philosophical and scientific tradition of the time compelled these people to turn Eastward to find different ways of thinking.

Best wishes,

Fabien

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Jason W Steinmetz wrote on May. 7, 2020 @ 21:28 GMT
You wrote: "The title of this essay implies there is an ‘art’ involved in taking a stance."

Generally, when statements like that are made what follows is a series of speculative assumptions that have nothing to support them other than personal conviction (and lots of hand-waving!). Your essay did not follow that path. What followed was a very intelligent and well-reasoned argument for the necessity of creativity in science. Should I go so far as to say it is an argument that science (and mathematics) is, at least to some extent, invented?

I certainly agree with your contention that "the problems of uncertainty and undecidability" represent an opportunity. I attempted to hint at that in my own essay. However, the problem of consciousness, even "the easy one", is much too big. I would guess that, like the "the long-standing philosophical question of whether matter is discrete or continuous" that you mentioned, this problem will not be resolved or, if it is, the resolution will be short-lived.

You wrote: "... the creative frameworks proposed to address undecidable problems are in fact a defining feature of science, whereby what we called philosophical questions give birth to scientific questions that are decidable."

Very well said. My only complaint is that more was not said. I wish you well in the contest.

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Author Fabien Paillusson replied on May. 11, 2020 @ 12:47 GMT
Dear Jason,

Thank you for your comment and for the positive feedback.

With regards to your comment "Should I go so far as to say it is an argument that science (and mathematics) is, at least to some extent, invented?" I would say that there is some degree (or maybe a lot) of invention but the corresponding creative freedom is bound by rules which compel the invented narrative (or its consequences) to match some agreed-upon aspects of reality (where the minimum required tends to be a form of consistency). Contemporary sciences use as matching tools essentially mathematical tools.

I will make sure to look at your essay.

Best wishes and good luck for the contest.

Fabien

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Michael James Kewming wrote on May. 10, 2020 @ 01:48 GMT
Dear Fabien and Matthew,

Thank you for the interesting philosophical essay. I think your section towards the end 'crisis or the new normal?' is particularly interesting. I think Kuhn was right when he proposed that we go through cycles of revolutionary and normal science. As a consequence, it appears we become stuck in an 'undecidable' trap when we are doing normal science and don't know how we could possible answer particular philosophical questions.

The current dominant trend in much of modern science is reductionism where we try to build up a global understanding of the laws of nature by studying them independently then bolting them onto one another. Do you think the undecidable philosophical problems could also be a result of this? If we were to consider more globalised theories, could this resolve the undecidable tension arising in many philosophical problems.

I can't help but think of dualism as a reductionist approach to consciousness---we separate our self out as a separate part of the universe---which forces us into the Hard Problem.

In any case, I touched on this theme a little but from the perspective of indeterministic vs deterministic theories. I would love to get your feedback.

Thanks again, and well done on a very interesting essay!

Michael

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Author Fabien Paillusson replied on May. 13, 2020 @ 13:31 GMT
Thank you for having read our essay and for the further thoughts about it.

You said "I think Kuhn was right when he proposed that we go through cycles of revolutionary and normal science.As a consequence, it appears we become stuck in an 'undecidable' trap when we are doing normal science and don't know how we could possible answer particular philosophical questions. ".

Yes, in a...

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Alan M. Kadin wrote on May. 15, 2020 @ 13:36 GMT
Dear Drs. Paillusson and Booth,

I read your essay with great interest. You address a number of important issues in the history and philosophy of science, including reviewing various theories for the basis of consciousness. These seem to be of two classes; consciousness is either difficult and mysterious or entirely illusory.

In my own essay, ”The Uncertain Future of Physics and Computing”, I take the quite different view that consciousness is due to specific computational architectures in the brain, and that the internal sense of consciousness provides direct clues to the structure of these architectures. I further argue that these can be emulated by artificial neural networks of the not-too-distant future.

Alan Kadin

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nancy walters wrote on May. 19, 2020 @ 02:03 GMT
Dear Fabien Paillusson,

I agree "there is an 'art' involved in taking a stance" but isn't science less about the individual opinion and more about the scientifically proven consensus?

cc walters

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