Sunday, May 27, 2018

721: Ernst Mach's philosophy of science...

Last lecture I introduced to you Ernst Mach  (1838 - 1916), the Austrian physicist. He had a great impact on the development of the philosophy of science.
After many scientific discoveries in physics, Mach became more and more interested in philosophy and history of science. 
He was fiercely opposed to any form of metaphysics and glorified the Enlightenment as the most important period in history. 
At first he, as a physicist, also doubted the existence of atoms. He also suggested to measure the images that we have of things outside of us instead of presenting them 'picturally'. 
Thus everything should at least in science be quantified and quantifiable.
Even Kant's theory that numbers are just there  a priori, he rejected. 
He believed that our number system was only one of the many possibilities; man had only developed it out of economic needs in order to be able to count quickly. 
All knowledge, according to Mach, could be reduced to sensory experience. The task of science was to describe all the sensory impressions as simply and neutrally as possible. 
He therefore considered physics, which provides the raw material for the experiences, and psychology, through which we are aware of our experiences, as the most important sciences. 
Mach chose psychology, but if he had lived today, he certainly had chosen neuroscience and neurobiology.
He certainly believed in the evolution of thought, with the survival of the fittest, in which all ideas, including the scientific ones, stem from our will to survive. 
In his view, a physical theory was nothing more than a description, and mathematics was merely a way of organizing these descriptions. 
He therefore found it more useful to talk about the usefulness of a theory than about whether it was correct or incorrect. 
The concept of truth, as eternal, unchanging something that is common, did not count as nonsense.
This last idea about truth and scientific theories fitted well with pragmatism, which was becoming increasingly influential in the US.
But the idea which had great influence on the development of epistemology and philosophy of science
was that all knowledge could be reduced to sensory experience and that there had to be a simple and neutral language to describe these knowledge data.
The term which nowadays is related to this point of view is reductionism. To say, that we reduce X to Y, seems a simple statement,
but hand it over to a philosopher and you are in big trouble with respect to its simplicity. We'll talk about it later.
We become even used to reductionist talk, because everywhere you can read or hear the thesis that everything we experience can be reduced to brain processes.
Next lecture we'll see what this reductionism means.... thank you again for your attention.


                              See all projects on

The Discussion

[13:22] herman Bergson: And I can add...NEXT WEEK no class....
[13:22] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:22] herman Bergson: Again I need a vacation and leave for THE island :-)
[13:23] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): to Schier again?
[13:23] herman Bergson: Indeed Beertje :-)
[13:23] oola Neruda: :-)
[13:23] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): aaaa i just was going to ask, Going to Shier again?
[13:23] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): :)) groot gelijk
[13:23] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): nice
[13:23] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ahha good for you !!!!!!!
[13:23] herman Bergson: After copying and pasting about 500 texts and making links on pages.....phew....
[13:24] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): og
[13:24] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): looks like this can be really interesting anyway
[13:24] herman Bergson: close to a burnout ^_^
[13:24] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): omg
[13:24] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): OMG!!!
[13:24] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hahaha ow
[13:24] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): what  a lot of work
[13:24] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): thats LOTS of work for sure
[13:24] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): that is the sceond time the blog moved i think
[13:24] herman Bergson: yes I had to copy every text from the blog into my webpages
[13:24] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): its more intense then my game coding projects put together
[13:25] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate) whispers: but from now on it will be easier right?
[13:25] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): moving that blog by hand
[13:25] herman Bergson: NO Gemma...this site is not the blog....
[13:25] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ahhha
[13:25] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
[13:25] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
[13:25] herman Bergson: yes the blog moved once
[13:25] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ok
[13:25] herman Bergson: This site is only the texts of the lectures
[13:25] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): got it
[13:25] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:25] herman Bergson: I left out the discussions
[13:25] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ok
[13:25] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): as i get it seems indeed easy to find things
[13:26] herman Bergson: you can find all subjects now....
[13:26] herman Bergson: In the blog it is almost undoable to find a subject
[13:26] herman Bergson: what year, what month?????
[13:26] herman Bergson: hopeless
[13:27] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): there is no way there other then click on older lesson 1 page at a time
[13:27] herman Bergson: yes indeed
[13:27] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): but here indeed I can find stuff easily I see
[13:27] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): giving it a testrun as we speak
[13:27] herman Bergson: oops
[13:28] Wisdomseeker (lissena) is offline.
[13:28] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): and I aproove it!
[13:28] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:28] herman Bergson: Where did it go???
[13:28] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): what?
[13:29] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): aa ok the Ipad thing
[13:29] herman Bergson: sorry  :-)
[13:29] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:29] roos Gartner is offline.
[13:29] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): we really did a lot of projects
[13:29] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): wow
[13:29] herman Bergson: Besides that....the story on reductionism is quite interesting....
[13:29] Anuska (anuska.loon) is offline.
[13:29] herman Bergson: We did indeed Gemma...
[13:30] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:30] Dien (djdien.bailey) is offline.
[13:30] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): lot of stuff
[13:30] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
[13:30] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
[13:30] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): i cant believe I am still here
[13:30] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): all that work
[13:30] herman Bergson: Mach's ideas were innovative....
[13:30] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): i think he is confused
[13:30] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): or maybe it is me
[13:30] herman Bergson: His disgust of metaphysics to begin with...
[13:30] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): indeed, and soon everyone tried breaking the sound barrier
[13:30] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): lol
[13:31] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): but i don't think any form of plane was invented then
[[13:31] Lente (lentelies.anatine) is offline.
[13:31] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): very early versions
[13:31] herman Bergson: No...Mach experimented with bulits, Bejiita
[13:31] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:32] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ciska
[13:32] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): but he did research in thing like shock waves as i get it
[13:32] herman Bergson: But without him knowing this it applied to jet planes too
[13:32] bergfrau Apfelbaum: Ciiska:-))
[13:32] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): sh
[13:32] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hence the sound barrier limit was named after him, jist as volt is used cause Volta invented the battery
[13:32] herman Bergson: yes....shock waves caused by bulits
[13:32] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:33] herman Bergson: How he did it I don't know....
[13:33] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): and these break the sound barrier indeed
[13:33] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): need to check a bit more on him
[13:34] herman Bergson: Due to his disgust of metaphysics, he also saw knowledge as a biological process in line with Darwin's ideas....
[13:34] herman Bergson: and his pragmatic approach to truth...also new
[13:35] herman Bergson: this man shaped a lot of our thinking in the 21st century, even when we don't realize that
[13:35] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): will have to check to see how
[13:35] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:35] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): wonders if trump read him
[13:35] herman Bergson: well...I gave the example, Gemma....
[13:35] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): yes
[13:36] Dings Digital: haha, Trump is breaking some barriers too :)
[13:36] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): doubt that Trump denies all forms of science
[13:36] herman Bergson: we find it normal when some say that certain emotions are just the result of endorfines for instance
[13:36] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): bur he likes barriers
[13:36] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): lol
[13:36] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): aaa yes
[13:36] herman Bergson: YEs BEjiita....let's hope he wont break through the SANE barrier
[13:37] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): didn't he already?
[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): Hope so too but he already have it seems, like canceling that nuclear treaty with Iran
[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ww3 coming closer now?
[13:37] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): oh lord
[13:37] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): reaches for the doll
[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): give him a good one Gemma
[13:38] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:38] herman Bergson: We are off topic Bejiita
[13:38] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): i thought so to
[13:38] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): but it is as it should be toward the end
[13:38] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:38] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): when he rejected metaphysics was he just being contrary?
[13:38] herman Bergson: So....enjoy your short vacation like I will :-)
[13:38] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): oh yes
[13:39] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): looking forward to the continuation of this for sure
[13:39] Dings Digital: thank you
[13:39] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): have a great vacation now Herman
[13:39] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:39] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): I think some of the philosophers really developed their philosophies for that reason
[13:39] herman Bergson: Not contrary Gemma...he was a physicist....with strong empiricist convictions
[13:39] Dings Digital: they are humans after all :)
[[13:39] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
[13:39] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
[13:39] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:39] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): true
[13:39] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:40] herman Bergson: That would be bad philosophers, Gemma....:-)
[13:40] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hehe
[13:40] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): we came across more than several
[13:40] herman Bergson: they had their principles :-)
[13:40] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): perhaps
[13:41] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): i would suggest everyone visit this LEA sim
[13:41] herman Bergson: Who do you have in mind, Gemma?
[13:41] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): LEA is nice
[13:41] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): The Philodophy of Furniture
[13:41] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): by Edgar Allen Poe
[13:41] Dings Digital: sounds fun
[13:41] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hehe
[13:41] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): indeed
[13:41] herman Bergson: Ohh?
[13:41] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): philosophon about a sofa instead of in a sofa?
[13:41] herman Bergson: Where is that sim?
[13:41] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): philospphing
[13:42] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): let me see if i can find the lm
[13:42] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:42] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): aaa yes
[13:42] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): worth a check for sure
[13:42] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): LEA18 (171,199,22)
[13:42] herman Bergson: By the way...does everyone see the webpages behind me on the Pad???
[13:43] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): no it's empty
[13:43] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): yes
[13:43] Dings Digital:
[13:43] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ok now
[13:43] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): can see
[13:44] herman Bergson: you always can check out http://www.herman-bergson,nl when you see a blank screen here
[13:44] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ok
[13:44] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): well it is not more then right to give a philosophic thought to the sofas chairs ect we sit in when we do our philosophy
[13:44] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:44] Dings Digital: goodbye everyone. thank you, herman!
[13:44] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): bye dings
[13:44] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): oki have a good time all
[13:44] bergfrau Apfelbaum: Have a nice holiday week Herman and Class! [13:44] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): bye Dings
[13:44] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): see  you again
[13:44] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): we do
[13:44] herman Bergson: You're welcome dings
[13:44] bergfrau Apfelbaum: byebye Dings:-)

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