Monday, February 20, 2012

Physicist Steven Weinberg’s Essay “AGAINST PHILOSOPHY” (was “References for Hermeneutics of Physics”)

Some blog followers might be interested in a recent post “Physicist Steven Weinberg’s Essay ‘AGAINST PHILOSOPHY’ (was ‘References for Hermeneutics of Physics’) ” [Hake (2012)]. The abstract reads:

ABSTRACT: Faye Pasamonte of the PhysLrnR list requested references on the “hermeneutics of physics.” [An online dictionary tells me that hermeneutics is “the branch of knowledge that deals with interpretation, esp. of the Bible or literary texts.”] My relay of her request - along with a dismissal of hermeneutics by philosopher Denis Phillips - to the HOPOS-L list (History of Philosophy of Science) initiated a 20-post thread replete with references and a mix of opinions on the value of hermeneutics. Philosopher George Gale, a hermeneutics skeptic, wrote (paraphrasing) “Steven Weinberg in Chapter 7 ‘AGAINST PHILOSOPHY’ of his book Dreams of a Final Theory holds his own pretty damn well against the despised philosophers.”

Weinberg wrote: “. . . we should not expect it [philosophy] to provide today’s scientists with any useful guidance about how to go about their work or about what they are likely to find. . . . After surveying three decades of professional writings in the philosophy of science, the philosopher George Gale. . . . .[[in Science and the Philosophers (Gale, 1984)]]. . . . . concludes that ‘these almost arcane discussions, verging on the scholastic, could have interested only the smallest number of practicing scientists.’. . . . . . . . .[[my italics]]. . . . Wittgenstein (1980) wrote that ‘nothing seems to me less likely than that a scientist or mathematician who reads me should be seriously influenced in the way he works.’ ”

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Richard Hake, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Indiana University
Honorary Member, Curmudgeon Lodge of Deventer, The Netherlands
President, PEdants for Definitive Academic References
which Recognize the Invention of the Internet (PEDARRII)
Links to Articles:
Links to SDI Labs:

REFERENCES [URL shortened by and accessed on 20 Feb 2012.]

Hake, R.R. 2012. “Physicist Steven Weinberg’s Essay ‘AGAINST PHILOSOPHY’ (was ‘References for Hermeneutics of Physics’), ” online on the OPEN! AERA-L archives at Post of 20 Feb 2012 16:48:24-0800 to AERA-L and Net-Gold. The abstract and link to the complete post are being transmitted to several discussion lists.


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