Archive for May, 2018

Is nature continuous or discrete? How the atomist error was born | Aeon Ideas

Monday, May 21st, 2018

News Flash for Philosophers: It is NOT true that “The modern idea that nature is discrete originated in Ancient Greek atomism”.

On the contrary, (to the very limited extent that it is a thing at all) it originates as a hypothesis to “explain” the observed simple rational proportions of reagents in chemical reactions – which subsequently also explained first the various observed thermodynamic properties of apparently continuous bulk matter, and then the very specific power law governing Brownian motion, and then countless other observations of all kinds of material interactions. Up to a point. At which point it was modified to include a continuous aspect (via quantum probability distributions) at every level right down to to the most elementary components of the (as yet) most complete “discrete” models.

So any inconsistency with some Philosophy professor’s reading of Democritus, Epicurus, or Lucretius is not a “misreading” at all. And perhaps the suggestion that it is, should be the last Nail in the coffin of academic “Philosophy” as a respectable enterprise.

 

Source: Is nature continuous or discrete? How the atomist error was born | Aeon Ideas

Does a “right to believe” whatever you want to even make sense?

Monday, May 21st, 2018

It is bizarre to see a professor of Philosophy discussing whether or not we have the “right to believe” (either pro or con) without addressing the question of whether or not the concept is even coherent – especially since, so far as I can see, it is not!

Surely the best we can choose is to act and speak as if we believe something, but whether or not we actually do believe it is beyond our direct control. If we wish to maintain a belief that is weak, then we may choose to limit our exposure to contrary evidence (though the act of acknowledging that choice is surely evidence that the belief is truly weak, and admission that the belief is vulnerable to destruction by disproof may in fact further weaken it). And if we wish to expunge a belief that we find distressing, then we may well search for contrary evidence. But in either case what we actually believe is a fact about our mental state that we can only observe and have no power to change directly by an act of will.

At least, that’s the way it seems to be for me!

 

Source: You don’t have a right to believe whatever you want to | Aeon Ideas