So, we will probably not cover the essays that discuss cosmology itself. Not in any great depth. With perhaps a few exceptions.
However, “A Rational Cosmology” discusses a lot more than just cosmology. It deals with the physics and philosophy of science in general. Although mostly physics.
It includes coverage of topics such as: axiomatic concepts, the difference between physics and cosmology, the concept of the universe, space, time, motion, waves, light, forces, infinity, life and consciousness.
It goes into other topics, but these ones and their implications are the main topics it covers.
One might wonder why it is not called “A Rational Philosophy of Physics”. Or even “A Rational Philosophy of Science”. Either would probably have made better titles. Especially as it does not even focus that much on cosmology as such.
Well, we may never know that, unless we ask the author.
What parts of the book are we going to cover? Well, not the entire book. At only 186 pages, we certainly could cover the entire book. But we will not do that.
We will confine ourselves to the more interesting parts of the book. We will cover some of the more rational parts of the book. As well as some of the less rational parts of the book. Mostly tackling whatever ideas are interesting or which bring up interesting topics of discussion.
We will not cover the book in order, from start to finish. We will go from early on and then jump around as we find interesting or related topics.
However, we will try to look at things in a logical order, without grossly violating any conceptual hierarchy.
What is Wrong with Modern Physics?
If you keep up with modern physics or this podcast, then it should not be too hard to find many examples.
Physicists talk of curved spacetime. As though space and time were physical aspects of the universe. As though space can bend and time can dilate. When in fact, both are relational concepts.
They talk of unobservable dark matter. Which they made up as a fudge factor to make their mathematics work.
It does not occur to them that their premises or their mathematics might be mistaken. No, they simply assume that something they cannot observe must be out there.
They talk about how light is both a wave and a particle. As though a wave was anything other than an abstraction. As though something could be an abstraction and a particle at the same time.
They speak about fields such as the electromagnetic or gravitational field. Without explaining what a field is. And treating a field essentially like a bunch of numbers describing the properties of various points in space.
They talk as though time travel might be possible. As though time was some physical thing one could travel through.
They talk about things magically jumping from point A to point B without covering any of the distance in between.
They talk about electrons and other subatomic particles and how they are governed by the laws of probability. But are not subject to the law of identity.
I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. There are a lot of grossly irrational ideas in modern physics.
The reason there are so many of them is because many in physics have adopted irrational philosophies. They view reality in a very mystical, rationalist way.
If you treat reality this way, then you are bound to come to accept some pretty irrational conclusions.
Does the book cover any of these issues? Yes, it does. But, more importantly, it covers some of the philosophical issues which lead to such irrationalities.
Before we start going into the book, let us talk briefly about the author. Who is this Gennady Stolyarov II guy?
Stolyarov II is an actuary, science-fiction novelist, independent philosophical essayist, poet, amateur mathematician, composer and writer of countless articles.
He is very interested in philosophy. Many of his written works deal with many different aspects of philosophy.
He says that he is inspired by Ayn Rand. And this is quite easy to believe. His thinking has clearly been influenced by her philosophy. He mentions her ideas several times in the book and in his writings. As well as sharing many of the values typically held by Objectivists.
Is he an Objectivist? I am not sure. His understanding of her ideas is somewhat incomplete. It is unclear to what extent he consciously attempts to integrate them into his life. He very well might be.
However, that is not too important. What matters is that he has been influenced by her philosophy and that it has helped him develop some fairly rational ideas.