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

Cosmology b/w Science and Philosophy: riffing on my dissertation research…

whiteheadFrom Whitehead’s Adventures of Ideas:






2 responses to “Cosmology b/w Science and Philosophy: riffing on my dissertation research…”

  1. David Avatar

    Hi, Matt.

    One thought I had is that you would benefit greatly from van Fraassen’s “The Scientific Image” and the works written by philosophers of science associated with the “Stanford School.” van Fraassen discusses very valuable aspects of science, such as interest dependence of the science dealing with the same data sets (and the idea that causation might be a horribly monistic idea that needs to become pluralistic). Also, his approach is pragmatic, and he let’s you in on some of his influences in that mentioned award-winning book. The Stanford School philosophers (e.g., Nancy Cartwright, Peter Galison, and Jordi Cat) advance a line of thought that discusses the extreme incompatibility of the various sciences. This school has influenced me, in that I think Aristotle introduced dichotomies to allow our small minds access to an otherwise difficult (impossible?) to comprehend world. Much of what I see in the Stanford School’s exegetical work is that methodological disparities among disciplines might be the sources of the ostensible disunity. The way I have been approaching matters is accepting that the Nature, as a scientific object, might be both plural and singular: “singular,” as in there is only one source to be inquired into, yet “plural,” as there numerous perspectives that are contingent upon some arbitrary (and interest-dependent!) methodology can only be compiled to get a better sense of what it is –Nature– that is being inquired into. Just my two cents.

    Also, I recently blogged about the fact that science does not understand anything (“Distinguishing between Types of Science”). All frameworks for understanding are philosophical, in their preliminary stages, before they are accepted. Ironically, that’s what makes them so difficult to accept in the first place. For example, the transition to a view of the world in which quantum phenomena exists is crazy to the nineteenth-century mind. Planck’s work, which seems to naturally give itself to atomistic and quantum mechanical interpretations, is a good example, because Planck said we could proceed “as if” there were atoms, yet hold scientific judgment in abeyance on the matter. He was right, they could proceed pragmatically, but scientists like to think they understand and have the inside scoop on reality, so they did a little philosophizing, and *poof* atoms have positive ontological status. Between Kuhn’s “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” and Steven L. Goldman’s lectures on “What Scientists Know and How They Know It,” I think you could glean a great deal.

    Thanks for the post.

    1. Matthew David Segall Avatar

      Thanks for the recommendation, David. I’ll look into van Fraassen’s work.

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