“The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.”
–Alfred North Whitehead

Science, Religion, and Philosophy: Responding to a conversation b/w L. Krauss, D. Dennett, and M. Pigliucci

Above is my response to the recent conversation between Krauss, Dennett, and Pigliucci. If you don’t know the context of their meeting, see the links below. I agree with Dennett that cosmology is an area of natural science where we are not even close to being done with philosophy. My own small contribution to the philosophical underpinnings of cosmology is this essay: Physics of the World-Soul: The Relevance of Alfred North Whitehead’s Philosophy of Organism to Contemporary Scientific Cosmology (2013).

Krauss’ original interview in The Atlantic

Pigliucci’s response to Krauss’ dismissal of philosophy.



8 responses to “Science, Religion, and Philosophy: Responding to a conversation b/w L. Krauss, D. Dennett, and M. Pigliucci”

  1. Dr. Günter Bechly Avatar
    Dr. Günter Bechly

    Please correct the name spelling: the guy’s name is Pigliucci not Pagluicci

    1. Matthew David Segall Avatar

      Whoops. Fixed it. Thanks for the heads up.

      1. lunapoiesis Avatar

        I note a second and third misspelling below the videos, in the body of the post

  2. milliern Avatar

    I think your opinion is very near my own. I view the move from philosophy to any dogmatic (even vaguely or loosely dogmatic) mode of thought as being the move away from philosophy, toward whatever the subject matter may be (science, history, theology, etc.). So I think the move to theory is right, as you mention, but I think theory is less dogmatic than, say, experimental physics, and experimental physics less than engineering.

    I am with you on the point of lowering standards through this sort of “conversation.” As well, I think Krauss was in over his head. Quite some time ago, I was sympathetic to the likely feelings in Krauss that induced him to say silly things; but that was before I found out how full of himself the guy is. I hope I am not alone in being absolutely shocked by his continual condescension, patronizing, general intellectual ignorance, and ill-intendedness. Wow… Again, your characterization of Krauss having lost the wonderment and ability to imagine things beyond a certain point reflect what I have said above. Krauss is incapable of dealing with some questions intelligently, because he doesn’t have the ability to go beyond his dogmatism.

    I would go a little further than you do, with regard to philosophy as formulating the scaffolding (terminology, questions, etc.) of an endeavor like science. Instead, I think, as Kuhn has shown (and Weber, long before Kuhn, assented to Kuhn) that large chunks of science get wiped away periodically. So I think that there is only philosophy and ossified (dogmatized) philosophy, the latter ever at the ready to be wiped away. The history of science is full of such examples. One needs only look at a graduate text in classical (“Newtonian”) mechanics, in comparison to Newton’s “Principia.” Not only do they bear hardly any technical resemblance, but the concepts aren’t even the same (e.g., Newton’s “vis inertiae” is more like a Scholastic’s notion than it is the modern concept of Kant and Euler, see: Max Jammer’s “Concepts of Mass”).

    1. Matthew David Segall Avatar

      Krauss’ anti-philosophical attempt to define “nothing” is proving itself to be an invaluable foil for my own dissertation work on Whitehead’s process-relational reformulation of the classical ether theory. So I suppose I am thankful for the relatively easy target.

      1. milliern Avatar

        Oh, isn’t your dissertation on imagination?

        By the way, many physicists don’t agree with Krauss, and they think he’s not speaking from physics when he says a number of things, as well on methodological considerations specific to physics. A decent synopsis of a few of these are included in my blog on “Why “A Universe from Nothing” is Garbage.” Have you had the chance to take a look at it (http://milliern.com/2012/11/21/why-a-universe-from-nothing-is-garbage/)?

      2. Matthew David Segall Avatar

        I haven’t seen your post on Krauss, but I’ll take a look tonight.

        Yes my dissertation is on imagination as a cosmographic method. I’m trying to show its relevance to the construction of both scientific theorization and religious mythopoeia. I’m digging into Whitehead’s (and Schelling’s and Steiner’s) post-Einsteinian ether theory as an example of how scientific and religious modes of thought can better co-exist.

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