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Bill Nye, “not the philosophy” guy

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As Robert Barron notes:

In a rambling and largely incoherent response to an interlocutor who wondered whether philosophy is still relevant, Nye denigrated the discipline, stating that philosophy never deviates from common sense, that it doubts the reality of sense experience, and that it engages in speculation about whether we might be part of an intergalactic ping pong match!

To tumultuous applause, doubtless.

The physical sciences can reveal the chemical composition of ink and paper, but they cannot, even in principle, tell us anything about the meaning of Moby Dick or The Wasteland. Biology might inform us regarding the process by which nerves stimulate muscles in order to produce human action, but it could never tell us anything about whether a human act is morally right or wrong. Optics might disclose how light and color are processed by the eye, but it cannot possibly tell us what makes the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling beautiful. Speculative astrophysics might tell us truths about the unfolding of the universe from the singularity of the Big Bang, but it cannot say a word about why there is something rather than nothing or how contingent being relates to non-contingent being.

How desperately sad if questions regarding truth, morality, beauty, and existence qua existence are dismissed as irrational or pre-scientific.

The scientism that I’ve been describing and criticizing is but a symptom of a more far-reaching problem, namely, the fading away of the humanities in our schools. … More.

It’s easy to make fun of the precious little asshats of Asscrat U, but there was a time that the humanities served a purpose other than enabling public tantrums.

For example, Peter Woit contemplates the end of physics because whether our universe is a simulation “has become a serious line of theoretical and experimental investigation among physicists, astrophysicists, and philosophers.”

What scientists need, at times, is for someone to open a window. That window is called philosophy, the science of thinking about how we think, and why we should think that way.

See also: In search of a road to reality

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8 Replies to “Bill Nye, “not the philosophy” guy

  1. 1
    GaryGaulin says:

    That window is called philosophy, the science of thinking about how we think,

    Philosophy is not a science. Please stop deceiving people.

  2. 2
    tjguy says:

    Regardless, science cannot escape philosophy. The philosophy of science shows this problem. All of science is based on certain things that cannot be ascertained scientifically.

    It is important for scientists to realize this lest they fall prey to the worldview of Scientism.

    http://creation.com/its-not-science

    Quote from the above article:

    The definition of ‘science’ has haunted philosophers of science in the 20th century. The approach of Bacon, who is considered the founder of the scientific method, was pretty straightforward:

    observation – induction – hypothesis – test hypothesis by experiment – proof/disproof – knowledge.

    Of course this, and the whole approach to modern science, depends on two major assumptions: causality and induction. The philosopher Hume made it clear that these are believed by ‘blind faith’ (Bertrand Russell’s words). Kant and Whitehead claimed to have solved the problem, but Russell recognized that Hume was right. Actually, these assumptions arose from faith in the Creator-God of the Bible, as historians of science like Loren Eiseley have recognized.Many scientists are so philosophically and theologically ignorant that they don’t even realize that they have these (and other) metaphysical assumptions.

  3. 3
    Robert Byers says:

    Its fine to complain about conclusions or musings of philosophy.
    yet to deny it has conclusions it can figure out without the senses alone is a aggressive statement.
    Nye/They never saw the universe come into being and yet know it did SO they muse about the invisible. They are doing philosophy and not natural touching science.
    Saying one deals with just whats here is not true. They deal with the past and gone processes and results of stages ALL GONE.
    Sure they are doing philosophy.
    Nye is a jack of all trades and master of none.
    Except children’s shows.
    I’m just saying he is not a master but just another person thinking about things. Fine. But why the prestige he knows better??
    Fame is not enough.

  4. 4
    jimmontg says:

    I’ll always remember Bill Nye as breaking his humorous (thigh bone) on Dancing with the Stars. His logic is about as brittle as his bones. What I dislike about him the most is his pretentions of being a scientist. He has no science degree. I have a degree in engineering plus experience as an ultra precise TIG welder. I’m an expert in all things metal. RIGHT?! I would love to debate him. His philosophy is buffoonery and he has no idea that that is the actual truth.

    I have always maintained that atheism makes you dumber. I wonder if Nye knows this.LOL

  5. 5
    EvilSnack says:

    Um, the human thigh bone is named the femur. The humerus is the upper arm bone.

  6. 6
    Splatter says:

    Gary, perfectly legitimate to use the term science in the way the poster has. Science refers to a body of knowledge generally, or more specifically the natural sciences or a method of knowing. The former includes philosophy, and philosophy underpins the latter.

    The way the poster (Denyse?) ended the piece was a pun. No deception involved.

  7. 7
    News says:

    Someone once described consciousness as looking into and out of a window at the same time. At any rate, denigrating philosophy means denigrating thinking. But then, maybe that makes sense from a naturalist point of view. Just not from any other one.

  8. 8
    jimmontg says:

    EvilSnack@3 By george, you’re right about femur vs. humerus. I spelt humerus as humorous on purpose as a pun. I just forgot which bone is connected to what bone. lol

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