Presentation on theme: "The metaphysical dogmas of natural science Peder A. Tyvand Department of mathematical sciences and technology UMB PhilSci Forum UMB 9 June 2011."— Presentation transcript:
The metaphysical dogmas of natural science Peder A. Tyvand Department of mathematical sciences and technology UMB PhilSci Forum UMB 9 June 2011
Why are there scientists? Any civilized society needs groups that Search for truth Formulate basic principles for thinking Follow these basic principles Have an independent position Can present their views and criticise power structures in society without risk
Where do we find search for truth, basic thinking and independence? In politics? No focus on truth – pragmatism. In the media? Not much basic thinking. In the arts? Not much independence of the market. In the academia? Well, our basic funding comes from the state. Can the state support our search for truth, with basic thinking independent of the same state? We need protected time for basic independent thinking. Our research minister complained this week that we are not ”applied enough” in academia. Why don’t we scream back for applied politicians instead of pragmatic ones?
Obstacles to free academic thinking Funding by the state: Meant to guarantee free thinking. Is this true today? State funding is becoming an instrument for political control of science, instead of guarantee of freedom. All fields have metaphysical dogmas, implicit or explicit. Often these dogmas are only known implicitly.They may be protected quite automatically by insider terminology and barriers of technicality. Scientific communities tend to protect their dogmas. People from other communities are not often welcomed to correct these dogmas. Inside a community you are not asked to formulate the dogmas, but to follow them. The so-called ”scientific consensus” is a deceptive instrument for keeping unwanted ideas out of leading circles. Not scientific, since any consensus is political.
Metaphysics meets science Causality: What is a natural law? Optimizations and purpose in nature Documentation: What is a proof? What is an instinct? What is conciousness? Just luck that we are here? The antropic principle The characteristics of man Ethics: Is morals just lack of opportunities?
”Skepticism” at the border to naivism: Knowledge as ”opposite” to belief? What is the scientific meaning of knowledge? When something has been proven, it becomes a part of our knowledge? Natural science consists of everything that has been proven? Everything that has been proven must be absolutely certain? What is a proof in the first place?
Self-evident anti-metaphysics? Seven dogmas of positivism: Strong version 1)Causality is objective and controlled by reason 2)All scientific proofs should become objective 3)Objective proof exists, controlled by reason 4)Life has been explained exhaustively as evolved by natural processes 5)The principles of causality and analogy are absolutely valid in theology and history 6)Mankind is universally autonomous in ethics 7)Information is a fully materialistic concept 8)Mankind is nothing but an advanced animal
Metaphysics of common sense? Seven dogmas of positivism: Mild version 1)Objective causality as controlled by reason 2)Objective scientific proof is aimed for 3)Life seen as evolved by natural processes 4)The principles of causality and analogy in theology (historical criticism) 5)Mankind as ethically autonomous 6)Information as a materialistic concept 7)Mankind seen as an advanced animal
My disbelief in the seven metaphysical dogmas of positivism 1)Objective causality lies outside our reason 2)The objective scientific proof does not exist 3)Life is not reducible to natural processes 4)No principles of causality and analogy can apply to unique historical events 5)Mankind needs non-pragmatic ethics 6)Information is hierarchical, not materialistic 7)Man’s conciousness is irreducible Any denial of metaphysics is indeed metaphysical
On the dogmas of positivism that apply to natural science 1)What is causality according to the laws of nature? What is the role of our reason? 2)What is a scientific proof? Are there limitations to what can be proven scientifically? 3)Is there any fundamental difference between the processes of life and the natural processes in dead matter? 4)Can we define information scientifically? 5)Can we define the conciousness of man?
Dogma 4: What is information? It is metaphysical on five levels i)Signals or symbols (letters A, B, C,..) ii)The formulation conventions associating symbols with language sounds iii)The words written as sequences of these letters (”software”, DNA-sequences) iv)The meaning of a message or the actions that follow (”hardware”, biochemistry) v)The intention or purpose behind the message
Dogma 4: What is information? The two algorithmic levels An algorithm is a message coded as a sequence of symbols (software) that is brought into action (hardware). The formulation level (software) is superior and comes before the action (hardware). The action level (hardware) interprets the instructions and put them into action. The instructions come from above to the action level. Feedback control systems take information from the action level and puts back into the formulation. An algorithm can stop and fail to do what it is meant to do. An algorithm can be distroyed and disappear completely. The dead nature has none of these algorithmic properties.
Dogma 1: What is causality? Algorithmic versus non-algorithmic causality i)Causality in the dead nature is non-algorithmic: There is no observable formulation, only action. There is no quantization of time. Humans formulate natural laws, but our formulations do not affect the action that goes on out there. ii)All biological causality is algoritmic. From formulation (DNA) follows action (biochemistry). iii)There is non-biological algoritmic causality, by man-made machines. With or without feedback control.
Dogma 1: What is causality? Algorithmic versus non-algorithmic causality i)Causality in the dead nature is non-algorithmic: An inverted pendulum falls due to instability. ii)All biological causality is algoritmic: A man can stabilize a physical pendulum. iii)Non-biological algoritmic causality: An inverted pendulum can be stabilized by a man-made machine with feedback control.
Dogma 1: What is causality? Causation is forward in time Cause and effect cannot be split. The cause needs its effect to be a cause. The effect needs its cause to be an effect. The link between cause and effect is essentially metaphysical. It is not correct to say that the effect follows after its cause in time. Nevertheless causation often involves a time arrow: It is forward in time. There is no causation backward in time. This is an important constraint in cybernetics (feedback control).
Dogma 1: What is causality? Forward causation in natural science Forward causation: There exists a time arrow. A time arrow may be imported into a reversible system. (i) By a radiation condition. (ii) By a first cause, like a mass source or energy source being turned on. The second law of thermodynamics (entropy law) has a time arrow. Heat diffusion backwards from a smooth initial state becomes singular after finite time. Singular means hot spots will then arise, which must have other causes: We cannot look backwards beyond a hot spot. Mild catastrophies: We cannot look behind an inelastic collision. Thus the present is not the key to the past.
Dogma 2: Proof versus belief: The five categories of proof i)Mathematical/logical proof ii)Empirical proof iii)Historical proof iv)Eyewitness proof v)Proof in the legal sense (in court)
(i) Matematical/logical proof A mathematical/logical is clarified by considering it backwards A matematical/logical proof takes a sentence (theorem) back to its basic postulates (axioms). Formalized axioms come into being after (not before) a theory has been developed intuitively. A proof does not abolish the belief, but tells us concisely/economically what we need to believe. We must believe in the axioms. We must believe in the rules of reasoning.
(ii) Empirical proof A causal relationship in nature is that a certain effect follows from a given set of causes. General causal relationships are called natural laws. A natural law cannot be verified on the basis of logical reasoning alone. A natural law must be verified by empirical proofs. An empirical proof is nothing but a long series of failed attempts to disprove the natural law (hypothetical-deductive method). Our belief in natural causation is not rooted in our understanding, but in our habit. We accept it because we get used to it (David Hume).
(iii) Historical proof Historical proofs include all observable facts left by a certain historical event. A unique event that one is supposed to describe as objectively as possible (by research). Natural science certainly needs historical proofs in fields like biology, geology and astronomy. There is no way that unique events in the past can be understood exhaustively by empirical proofs (repeated experiments in our present time). Historical proofs are never absolute, so one has to add belief to arrive at conclusions.
(iv) Eyewitness proof All cases in the court have to be viewed as unique historical events. The courts needs a class of proof in addition to historical proofs: Eyewitness proof Eywitnesses who has survived and saw the event closely can give their version of what happened. In natural science, eyewitnesses are useful in connection in natural hazards. The credibility of an eyewitness proof rests upon the credibility of the witness.
(v) Legal proof Legal proof is a general category that puts together a total picture in order to judge the metaphysical causes behind a chain of events: Guilt and responsibility. Legal proof includes all the four previous categories of proof. Traditionally the two last categories are the most important ones. Two exceptions: DNA-traces involve empirical proof (category 2). A legal alibi should be judged logically (category 1).
Dogma 3: The processes of life versus dead matter Life is algorithmic, based on information. The two hierarchical levels of information are: 1) Formulation in DNA (software) 2) Execution in terms of biochemistry, starting with RNA-assisted reading of DNA (hardware) Dead matter is non-algorithmic.There is no formulation of the processes of dead matter in nature. There is only repeated action, which we call causality. The fundamental natural processes in time are continuous, not discrete.
Dogma 5: Definition of conciousness Conciousness of man cannot be defined by man All attempts of defining conciousness assume that there is an operative conciousness: This is a self- destructive self-reference Conciousness is based metaphysically, still it is partly observable We must be satisfied with characterizing conciousness instead of attempting in vain to define it We cannot characterize conciousness exhaustively A decent mathematical criterion for the emergence of conciousness will never emerge
Alternatives to these five dogmas of positivism 1)The link between cause and effect in nature is metaphysical. Our relationship to the laws of nature consists of attempts at formulation and habits of observation. Based on pure reason, we have no idea why these laws actually work. 2)Scientific proofs are never absolute. They come in three distinct categories: Mathematical/logical, empirical and historical. 3)The basic difference between life and dead matter is that life is algorithmic, based on information. 4)Information is metaphysical and has distinct hierarchical levels. The level of formulation (software) is superior to the level of execution (hardware). 5)Conciousness of man is metaphysical and not subject to exhaustive scientific description and understanding.
Not all natural laws are causal 1) Force laws in nature are causal. The cause can be the distribution (of masses or charges), and the effect is the resulting force. 2) Time evolution laws are causal. Newton’s 2 nd law, the Faraday and Ampere laws, the time- dependent Schrodinger equation. Non-causal laws are: Conservation principles, balance laws, postulates, optimization principles, constitutive laws. Process laws (entropy law) are also causal, but in a statistical sense.
The metaphysics of argumentation philosophy The so-called logic of Arne Næss (a positivist argumentation philosophy) is an anti-metaphysical program. Self-contradictory since it is metaphycially based. Let us reveal the metaphysics in three basic concepts of Næss, by impossible self-references: Presicion: ”Make your precision concept precise!” Definition: ”Define your definition concept!” Interpretation: ”Interpret your interpretation concept!”
Metaphysics in informatics Information is a metaphysical and hierarchical concept. Five hierarchical levels: (1) Symbols (2) Coding (3) Message (4) Action (5) Purpose Computer programs are hierarchical recipes (algorithms) that are formulated and executed. Bootstrapping problem: How to teach a computer to read a program. How can the computer read that it has to read? The halt problem for Turing-machines (Gödel).
Metaphysics in mathematics The natural numbers are given. Decimal system of 10 fingers. Alle other number systems are human constructions motivated by calculations like division, square roots etc. The contradiction principle: A statement is not true and false at the same time. This is a necessary dogmatic basis for all mathematical reasoning. Gödel’s teorem says that all axiomatic systems are incomplete. Gödels teorem is illustrated by Russell’s paradox: A barber shaves all men in his town that do not shave themselves. Will this barber shave himself? Mathematical proofs are hierarchical algorithms. ”Set” and ”infinite” are metaphysical concepts of mathematics.
Metaphysics in physics – paradoxical? All physics have an implicit basis outside physics. Space, time and mass are metaphysically based. Dualism of waves versus particles (photons, electrons). Two different mass concepts: Inertial mass and gravitational mass. Measurements show that these are the same to high accuracy (no theoretical proof available). Energy is an explicitly metaphysical concept: ”Ability” of performing mechanical work. Energy cannot be observed in its pure form, only as a specific category of energy. Gravitation is described quantitatively by Newton’s law of gravity and the relativistic curvature of the space/time continuum. This leaves the phenomenon of gravitation non-understood. The action at a distance of gravity cannot be grasped by our reason Optimization principles in nature: Fermat principle of light. Maximal water transport in channels. Lagrange mechanics.
Metaphysics in chemistry What is the direction of a chemical reaction? Natural reactions tend to reduce the available free energy. Chemical reactions that build free energy are based on catalysis. A catalyst promotes a certain chemical reaction, but comes out as unchanged after the reaction. Example: Electrolysis of water. The metal stics (electrodes) are the catalysts. All catalysis is algorithmic, and needs information in order to work. A source of information is needed in order to structure the imported energy so that free energy can be built up in a system (by catalysis). Valence is a concept that is superior to quantum mechanics. Valence cannot be defined by physics.
Metaphysics in biology Life is algorithmic: Recipies turned into action. Algoritmic formulation (software): The coding in DNA (46 chromosoms in humans). The DNA spiral has four ”letters” (A,G,C,T) forming triplets: 4x4x4=64 codings of 20 amino acids Algoritmic execution (hardware): RNA-controlled reading of DNA and realization by means of amino acids What is conciousness? Impossible to define: All theories on conciousness assume conciousness.
Some hard-boiled metaphysical dogmas in natural science A reductionist dogma: ”All building of structures are bottom-up”. Example: Evolution A dogma of symmetry: ”Physics is beautiful and as symmetrical as possible”. Examples: String theory and the Higgs particle. A dogma of interaction: ”All forces between bodies are due to mutual exchange of particles”. Example: The graviton (a fictitious ”gravity particle”, probably non-existent).
Conclusions (1) All philosophy of science should have the algorithm concept in its focus. Algorithms in natural science are linked to the Aristotle concept of cause, and to the Greek logos concept of the New Testament. Algorithms are hierarchical and leaves no room for reductionism. Algorithms are formulated recipies that are brought into action. All life is algorithmic. All algorithms assume life.
Conclusions (2) Knowledge must be based on metaphysics. Knowledge based politically on power is not knowledge. All metaphysical monopolies are bad. It does not matter if they are explicit or implicit. An intellectual ideal: To reveal all metaphysics. Camouflage of metaphysics is an anti- intellectual project, even if it is equipped with an aura of scientific prestige.
Conclusions (3) The established opposition of belief versus knowledge are artificial and old-fashioned. These are due to the historical influence of reductionism and positivism on natural science. The power of positivism in natural science is fictitious, built on contradictions, superficial rhetorics, political power and prestigeous vanity. Already mathematics in its very basis is anti- reductionistic. It is non-causal and algorithmic, built on axioms. All human knowledge is built algorithmically. The laws for the dead nature are non-algorithmic. Causality in nature comes to us from outside, and does not have its roots in human thinking.
Conclusions (4) Natural science has been attacked by a harmful program of anti-metaphysics for over 200 years. All fields in science have their metaphysics. Implicit metaphysics is dangerous because it is based on power and takes the focus away from reasoning. All intellectual activity should aim at making metaphysics available in explicit formulation. An unbiased judgement of lines of reasoning should have top priority.