Undercutting reality in the name of science
Travis Norsen lays out the argument in a four-parter at the Objective Science site (although in a somewhat less entertaining fashion than our own course): The "post-modern philosophy of emptiness is the source of the superficiality found in so many areas of art and science today... Even the hard-nosed science of physics has not been immune to the influence of contemporary philosophy. In physics, this modern superficiality takes the form of mathematical formalism divorced from any reference to causal mechanisms, i.e., equations whose referents in the physical world are unknown and not sought."
...the problem with contemporary physics is not simply that we have equations without yet knowing the causal mechanisms behind them. That is the current state of affairs, but it is a normal, intermediate stage in the growth of knowledge. Rather, the problem is that physicists have abandoned the attempt to discover causal mechanisms. Such explanations of the equations are regarded as unimportant or impossible.When philosophy tells you that we can never know true reality -- that all we can know are so-called 'appearances' -- then its no wonder that mathematical formalism and appearances becomed more valued than are causality and identity. And its no wonder either that in fields from physics to politics to art to ethics that fundamental thinking and complex integrations are out. Read on here.
This attitude, which I call the Primacy of Mathematics, takes causal explanations to be either irrelevant to the progress of physics or inaccessible by the methods of physics. In either case, such explanations are no longer sought. This obviously stunts the growth of knowledge, since it makes physicists think they are finished understanding a given phenomenon when in fact they have only begun to describe it. Deep questions, the kind that lead to identification of underlying causes, simply no longer get asked...What then is left of theoretical physics? Equations - along with the motto: "Calculate, calculate, calculate." Or in other words: "The equations are here; let's use them. What do they mean? Blank out."
LINKS: Mathematics vs. matter: The philosophic roots of the rejection of physical causation in 20th century physics - Travis Norsen, Objective Science
Rugby, Physics, Philosophy & Beer - update - Not PC
Quantum Aristotle - Peter Cresswell