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He said it: Only Darwin can save philosophy

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Ludwig Boltzmann (1844-1906)

In a popular lecture delivered in Vienna I 1900, the physicist Ludwig Boltzmann, one of the fathers of statistical mechanics and the kinetic theory of gases, declared that the nineteenth century would be remembered as the Century of Darwin, then stated:

In my view all salvation for philosophy may be expected to come from Darwin’s theory. … What then will be the position of the so-called laws of thought in logic? Well, in the light of Darwin’s theory they will be nothing else but inherited habits of thought. … One can call these laws of thought a priori because through many thousands of years of our species’ experience they have become innate to the individual, but it seems to be no more than a logical howler of Kant’s to infer their infallibility in all cases. According to Darwin’s theory this howler is perfectly explicable. Only what is certain has become inheritable; what was incorrect has been dropped. I this way, the laws of thought acquired such a semblance of infallibility that even experience was believed to be answerable to their judgment.

Boltzmann then proceeds to say that theories and deductions are not first true and then, as a consequence, useful, but rather that they were first useful and then, as a consequence, considered true. (Boltzmann, 1904, p. 193 and passim)

– Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini, What Darwin Got Wrong (London: Profile Books, 2010), pp. 164-65.

Fast forward to Francis’ Collins brainchild: BioLogos: Only Darwin can save Christianity.

5 Replies to “He said it: Only Darwin can save philosophy

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    With that line of thinking it is no wonder that Boltzmann did not discover the ‘transcendent’ constant that goes by his name;

    Boltzmann equation
    An important equation in statistical mechanics that connects entropy (S) with molecular disorder (W). It can be written:
    S = k log W
    where k is Boltzmann’s constant.

    The Austrian physicist Ludwig Boltzmann first linked entropy and probability in 1877. However, the equation as shown, involving a specific constant, was first written down by Max Planck, the father of quantum mechanics in 1900. In his 1918 Nobel Prize lecture, Planck said:

    This constant is often referred to as Boltzmann’s constant, although, to my knowledge, Boltzmann himself never introduced it – a peculiar state of affairs, which can be explained by the fact that Boltzmann, as appears from his occasional utterances, never gave thought to the possibility of carrying out an exact measurement of the constant. Nothing can better illustrate the positive and hectic pace of progress which the art of experimenters has made over the past twenty years, than the fact that since that time, not only one, but a great number of methods have been discovered for measuring the mass of a molecule with practically the same accuracy as that attained for a planet.

    http://www.daviddarling.info/e.....ation.html

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    And again this type of thinking displayed by Boltzmann clearly shows why modern science never took off in cultures predominated by the materialistic mindset; i.e. the cultures just don’t have the ‘transcendent’ reference point, as a Theistic cultures do, for looking for, and finding, the overarching governing transcendent order that is placed on the universe by God:

    ================

    Christianity Gave Birth To Each Scientific Discipline – Dr. Henry Fritz Schaefer – video
    http://vimeo.com/16523153

    It is also interesting to note that ‘higher dimensional’ mathematics had to be developed before Einstein could elucidate General Relativity, or even before Quantum Mechanics could be elucidated;

    The Mathematics Of Higher Dimensionality – Gauss & Riemann – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/6199520/

  3. 3
    Mung says:

    I’ve read that the Boltzmann constant can easily be got rid of.

    Speaking of which, what did Shannon put in place of k?

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    as to 3,

    ‘Since k is a physical constant of proportionality between temperature and energy, its numerical value depends on the choice of units for energy and temperature. The Kelvin temperature scale is based on the Celsius scale which divides the temperature range of liquid water into one hundred increments. The small numerical value of the constant in the metric system reflects the small energy in joules required to increase a particle’s energy by raising the temperature by 1 K. The characteristic energy kT is a term encountered in many physical relationships.’
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boltzmann_constant

  5. 5
    Ilion says:

    … Boltzmann then proceeds to say that theories and deductions are not first true and then, as a consequence, useful, but rather that they were first useful and then, as a consequence, considered true.

    No doubt he does, as do ‘Science!‘ worshippers to this day.

    Nevertheless, “considered true” != true.

    Furthermore, some truths are downright unuseful and inconvenient.

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