At rock bottom all is reducible to physics

…except all those insignificant things that make life worth living, such as beauty and purpose.  Doesn’t physicalism take as a presupposition that nothing exists outside of space, time, matter and energy?  And what does physics have to say about Shakespeare, or why his work supplies us unrivaled insight into what being human entails? Nothing very helpful, I’m afraid.  Physics seems exceptionally adept at discerning the laws of material entities and phenomena, but entirely incapable of providing insight into why any of this information matters.  Amassing all the physical data in universe does aid us in our quest for understanding, but it isn’t exhaustive of what can be or should be known.

Science has brought us to the end of our childhood.  Growing up is unsettling to many people, and unbearable to a few, but we must learn to see the world as it is and not as we want it to be.  Once we free ourselves of magical thinking we have a chance of comprehending how we fit into this unfolding universe.  The dominant intellectual position of our day and age is physicalism — at rock bottom all is reducible to physics.  There is no need to appeal to anything but space, time, matter, and energy.  Physicalism — a halftone away from materialism — is attractive because of its metaphysical sparseness.  It makes no additional assumptions.[1]

[1] Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist, 152 (MIT Press; Cambridge, Massachusetts; Copyright © 2012 by Massachusetts Institute of Technology).
Here’s some quotes from Boltzmann that relate to a subject we often talk about, namely physics and philosophy:

After attempting to read Hegel he complained, “what an unclear, senseless torrent of words I was to find there.” In 1905 Boltzmann wrote to philosopher Franz Brentano (1838 – 1917), “Shouldn’t the irresistible urge to philosophize be compared to the vomiting caused by migraines, in that something is trying to struggle out even though there is nothing inside? ”

In 1904, Boltzmann gave a lecture attacking Schopenhauer before the Vienna Philosophical Society that was originally to be titled, “Proof that Schopenhauer is a stupid, ignorant philosophaster, scribbling nonsense and dispensing hollow verbiage that fundamentally and forever rots people’s brains.” Actually, Schopenhauer had written these precise words to attack Hegel.

Boltzmann changed the title, but still came down hard on Schopenhauer.

David Lindley, Boltzmann’s Atom: The Great Debate That Launched a Revolution in Physics, (New York: Free Press, 2001), p. 199.

Ibid, p. 201.

So Feynman, Hawking, Weinberg, Krauss were not the first.


About basicrulesoflife

Year 1935. Interests: Contemporary society problems, quality of life, happiness, understanding and changing ourselves - everything based on scientific evidence.
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