On 12/17/2013 7:58 AM, Jason Resch wrote:
On Tue, Dec 17, 2013 at 12:43 AM, meekerdb <meeke...@verizon.net
On 12/16/2013 10:09 PM, Jason Resch wrote:
Instead of concluding only that the only thing he could prove is that
exists", he might have reasoned further that mathematical laws
Only by adopting the mathematicians idea of "exists" = "satisfies
I mean it in a deeper sense than that. They exist in the same way any
physical laws exist; they limit and restrict what is possible to
they have a genuine perceptible effect.
Indeed, physical laws tell us what to expect - but they don't restrict
anything, rather they are restricted to agree with observation. You
have picture of a divine lawgiver who gave us the laws on golden
I believe there is a truth we search for. In both mathematics and physics,
get the ultimate truth, but the reality is something out there and it is
There are the "true physical laws", and there is our imperfect and
conception of them.
A statement of faith? or hope?
A statement of faith, which I hope other scientists studying the world also believe.
Otherwise, aren't they wasting their time?
"On the other hand, I maintain that the cosmic religious feeling is the strongest and
noblest motive for scientific research. Only those who realize the immense efforts and,
above all, the devotion without which pioneer work in theoretical science cannot be
achieved are able to grasp the strength of the emotion out of which alone such work,
remote as it is from the immediate realities of life, can issue. What a deep conviction
of the rationality of the universe and what a yearning to understand, were it but a
feeble reflection of the mind revealed in this world, Kepler and Newton must have had to
enable them to spend years of solitary labor in disentangling the principles of
celestial mechanics! Those whose acquaintance with scientific research is derived
chiefly from its practical results easily develop a completely false notion of the
mentality of the men who, surrounded by a skeptical world, have shown the way to kindred
spirits scattered wide through the world and through the centuries. Only one who has
devoted his life to similar ends can have a vivid realization of what has inspired these
men and given them the strength to remain true to their purpose in spite of countless
failures. It is cosmic religious feeling that gives a man such strength. A contemporary
has said, not unjustly, that in this materialistic age of ours the serious scientific
workers are the only profoundly religious people." -- Albert Einstein
P.S. I know its not as pithy as the quotes you usually provide, but I had to include all
the context for it to be meaningful.
I'll see your Einstein and raise you a Scott Aaronson:
From my perspective, then, the best way to frame the question is not: “why be interested
in philosophy?” Rather it’s: “why be interested in anything else?”
But I think the latter question has an excellent answer. A crucial thing humans learned,
starting around Galileo’s time, is that even if you’re interested in the biggest
questions, usually the only way to make progress on them is to pick off smaller
subquestions: ideally, subquestions that you can attack using math, empirical observation,
or both. For again and again, you find that the subquestions aren’t nearly as small as
they originally looked! Much like with zooming in to the Mandelbrot set, each subquestion
has its own twists and tendrils that could occupy you for a lifetime, and each one gives
you a new perspective on the big questions. And best of all, you can actually answer a few
of the subquestions, and be the first person to do so: you can permanently move the needle
of human knowledge, even if only by a minuscule amount. As I once put it, progress in math
and science — think of natural selection, Godel’s and Turing’s theorems, relativity and
quantum mechanics — has repeatedly altered the terms of philosophical discussion, as
philosophical discussion itself has rarely altered them!
It's not contrary to Einstein, but I think it's a good cautionary on building
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