Philosophy Science

Neuroscientist: Not only isn’t philosophy dead, it isn’t even on life support

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Earth to Stephen Hawking and co-author Leonard Mlodinow: Philosophy always buries its undertakers.

Neuroscientist Raymond Tallis agrees: “Far from having replaced metaphysics, science is in a mess and needs help. Einstein saw it coming.”

Whazzat?

… there could not be a worse time for philosophers to surrender the baton of metaphysical inquiry to physicists. Fundamental physics is in a metaphysical mess and needs help. The attempt to reconcile its two big theories, general relativity and quantum mechanics, has stalled for nearly 40 years. Endeavours to unite them, such as string theory, are mathematically ingenious but incomprehensible even to many who work with them. This is well known. A better-kept secret is that at the heart of quantum mechanics is a disturbing paradox – the so-called measurement problem, arising ultimately out of the Uncertainty Principle – which apparently demonstrates that the very measurements that have established and confirmed quantum theory should be impossible. Oxford philosopher of physics David Wallace has argued that this threatens to make quantum mechanics incoherent which can be remedied only by vastly multiplying worlds.

Tallis is, of course, best known for his recent book, Aping Mankind: Neuromania, Darwinitis, and the Misrepresentation of Humanity so he adds,

Beyond these domestic problems there is the failure of physics to accommodate conscious beings. The attempt to fit consciousness into the material world, usually by identifying it with activity in the brain, has failed dismally, if only because there is no way of accounting for the fact that certain nerve impulses are supposed to be conscious (of themselves or of the world) while the overwhelming majority (physically essentially the same) are not. In short, physics does not allow for the strange fact that matter reveals itself to material objects (such as physicists).

Actually, there is also the endless paper war about the origin of life and of humans* and the cacophony that is current cosmology.

And interesting indeed that so many new voices are beginning to recognize that science without philosophy is increasingly ridiculous.

* See, for example, the bipedalism blues.

3 Replies to “Neuroscientist: Not only isn’t philosophy dead, it isn’t even on life support

  1. 1
    tjguy says:

    “Actually there is also the endless paper war about the origin of life and humans and the CACOPHANY THAT IS CURRENT COSMOLOGY.”

    Interesting comment about cosmology. I agree, but am surprised to see that idea espoused on an ID site. Maybe it is simply a reference to the Multiverse dream as opposed to Big Bang ideas. I can agree that there is at least some evidence for the Big Bang idea, which is more than I can say for the Multiverse, but I’d like to see more discussion about the problems of the Big Bang too instead of just adding God to the mix to solve them. Maybe, just maybe, the theory should be left to flounder on its own rather then trying to plug the holes with God.

  2. 2
    Barb says:

    In efforts to explain by natural processes alone the design and fine-tuning evident in the cosmos, still others turn to what has been called the multiverse, or many-universe, theory. According to this hypothesis, perhaps we live in just one of countless universes—all of which have different conditions, but none of which have any purpose or design. Now according to that line of reasoning and the laws of probability, if you have enough universes, eventually one of them should have the right conditions to support life. However, there actually is no scientific evidence to support the multiverse theory. It is pure speculation.

    After stating that he did not subscribe to that hypothesis, Nobel Prize-winning biochemist Christian de Duve said: “In my opinion, life and mind are such extraordinary manifestations of matter that they remain meaningful, however many universes unable to give rise to them exist or are possible. Diluting our universe with trillions of others in no way diminishes the significance of its unique properties, which I see as revealing clues to the ‘Ultimate Reality’ that lies behind them.”

  3. 3
    Robert Byers says:

    Listened to a portion of the video.
    The point I liked that he stressed was that showing blinking neurones etc is not showing we are just a machine.
    The christian can not believe our brain and wiring is related to us as a thinking soul. Our soul goes to the afterlife and thinks fine or better then here. Jesus brain had nothing to do with his intellectual thought.
    No the brain can not be what we are. Its just a machine we are in to make our body work.
    When we think it could only be it has a affect on the brain but only because of being so intimately connected.
    The attempt to turn us into a brain machine misses the original knowledge we are souls made in gods image.
    There is no evidence our brains are the origin or affect our thinking.
    Its just presumed by a evolutionary framework in society,.
    It gets in the way of progress.

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