Thursday, May 3, 2012

Is philosophy dead?

This post is in response to Krauss' interview published in the Atlantic:
Has Physics Made Philosophy and Religion Obsolete?

For Krauss to claim that Russell was really a mathematician and not a philosopher I think is wrong. I have read quite a lot of philosophy by Russell, if you look at his bibliography philosophy takes up the majority of his writing. Russell was both a philosopher and a mathematician as well as being an historian, a political activist, a social commentator and much more besides.

Krauss also implies that Russell was wrong on some key points. Whilst this is undoubtedly true, that doesn't in any way make him a bad mathematician or a bad philosopher. It's the very nature of enquiry that as our understanding improves we are likely to be proved wrong. Russell helped us move forward and contributed more than very many people. Krauss is an intellectual midget compared to Russell and could do well to learn some humility.

I'm also not sure that I can agree that the media should carry the blame for the neutrinos travelling faster than light 'incident'. The problem was that a measuring device was faulty as it hadn't been screwed in to the correct tolerance. The physicists published results which, if true would have thrown a lot of physics in chaos - one of the flying sheep that we discussed earlier.

The problem with physicists is that a lot of them would kill their grannies to get a Nobel Prize. They publish too quickly, because the only way to get a Nobel Prize is to be the first, so adopting a blunderbuss approach to academic papers can mean that although 99.9% of the time they are completely wrong, occasionally they chance upon something that turns out to be true and get credit for it. This is truly moronic behaviour in my opinion.

On the whole I think physicists can often benefit from working alongside philosophers and Krauss' attitude is both condescending and rude. He should learn some manners.

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