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Vodcast Episode One: The Cause of Modern Physics is Philosophy

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Today we are going over quotes that help to show that the cause of the irrationality in modern physics is philosophy.

Click here to download the PDF transcript or read below the video.

You may also listen to or download an audio only version above.

[Note: Please note that this transcript may not exactly match the audio. However, there should be no significant differences.]

Intro

Metaphysics of Physics is the crucial voice of reason in the philosophy of science, rarely found anywhere else in the world today.

We are equipped with the fundamental principles of a rational philosophy that gives us the edge, may make us misfits in the mainstream sciences but also attracts rational minds.

With this show, we are fighting for a more rational world, mostly by looking through the lens of the philosophy of science.

We raise awareness of issues within the philosophy of science and present alternative and rational approaches.

The irrationality of modern physics is the focus of this channel. We have covered topics such as:

The irrationality of Stephen Hawking.The universe and the Big Bang. The philosophy of Niels Bohr. The achievements of Isaac Newton.Optical illusions and the validity of the senses.

If you think that science is about explaining a knowable reality, then this is the channel for you.

If you want to learn more about the irrationality of modern physics, then you are in the right place.

I am your host Ashna. My husband, Dwayne Davies is the primary content creator and your guide through the hallowed halls of the philosophy of science.

We will discuss the problems in modern physics and more and how we can live in a more rational world!

Check out our website at metaphysicsofphysics.com.

The Show Itself

Hi everyone! Welcome to the first of the Metaphysics of Physics video podcast. Today we are going over quotes that help to show that the cause of the irrationality in modern physics is philosophy.

If you are a long-time fan of Metaphysics of Physics, then you will know that modern physics is full of crazy absurdities. Such as things being particles and waves at the same time. And things not being real unless they are observed. Or the tendency to treat obvious concepts such as that of “dimension” or “time” as though they were physical things. Or that the universe is made from mathematics!

Why do educated people take such nonsense seriously? Is it because reality is as weird as physicists like to believe? And do we just have to accept this?

No! If you examine all these kinds of claims, you will not find any evidence that supports them. All these claims are simply baseless, nonsensical interpretations of experiments and/or mathematical equations. There is never a shred of evidence that supports any of these interpretations.

Ah, but what about all the alleged experimental evidence. Yes, what about it? In no case can it reasonably be interpreted as supporting any such anti-reality position. No experiment ever performed will ever show that reality is not real or that it is unknowable.

If reality was not real, the results of experiments would not be real and they would demonstrate nothing. If reality was unknowable, then you could never learn that by performing experiments that could not reveal that.

Or in other words: you cannot use reality to demonstrate that there is no reality. You cannot claim knowledge that proves that knowledge is impossible.

No experiment will ever show that reality is not real….

Why then do physicists take any of this seriously? It is because of the ideas that physicists have accepted either passively or actively. It is because of the philosophies that those in physics have blindly accepted or have actively embraced. Philosophies which lead them to interpret reality through the twisted lenses of those very philosophies which are hostile to reality and knowledge.

What kind of philosophies might these be? The kind that asserts that what we call reality is an illusion and that we might as well give up trying to understand how it works. Instead, they claim that we should confine ourselves to studying only mathematical appearances. As that is all they believe we shall ever know about.

Today we are going to explore some quotes from physicists. We will start with Niels Bohr and his contemporaries. They started physics down the road of abandoning reality in favor of mathematical appearances. And then we shall turn to more recent physicists who evidently agree with Bohr and his peers.

We shall see that the absurdities of modern physics should come as no surprise. The people inflicting modern physics with these absurdities are simply being consistent with the philosophy of Bohr and the like. The philosophy which dominates science today and which is shaped by the Neo-Kantian philosophies that have dominated our culture for over a hundred years.

Without any further ado, let us look at some of these quotes. And then discuss what kind of philosophical premises motivated them.

“Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real.” – Niels Bohr

Bohr believed that we could never know reality as it is. We can merely develop a pragmatic abstract description consistent with what we observe. Which is merely an illusion, not things as they are.

Gee thanks Bohr, thanks for plunging physics into irrationality…

If we cannot know reality, then one might ask “towards what purpose?” do we have science? Creating science-fiction?

That seems rather pointless to me. But pragmatists would assert that there is some use in describing illusions. If they help us live better lives as we navigate our way around all these illusions.

“Isolated material particles are abstractions, their properties being definable and observable only through their interaction with other systems.” – Niels Bohr.

We are to view things such as an “electron” or a “proton” as abstract descriptions. We should not think that we know anything about what they are. No, we are merely creating abstract descriptions. And then identifying relationships between these abstractions.

After all, if we cannot know reality as it is, and all we have are illusions to work with, then should we not at least try to find out how these illusions are connected? At least then we can learn to live in this world of illusions.

“I consider those developments in physics during the last decades which have shown how problematical such concepts as “objective” and “subjective” are, a great liberation of thought.” – Niels Bohr.

Here Bohr exposes his pragmatism. He does not consider it worthwhile to discuss whether the abstractions he holds so dear are “objective” or “subjective”. He is merely concerned with whether they might prove pragmatically useful.

If we cannot know reality, then what use is it to say whether something is objective or subjective? We can never know. We can only know whether abstractions are useful.

A reasonable person might say that abstractions are only useful if they are objective.

Bohr believed that we cannot know whether something is objective or not, so considers it pointless to consider such things.

“We must be clear that when it comes to atoms, language can be used only as in poetry. The poet, too, is not nearly so concerned with describing facts as with creating images and establishing mental connections.” – Niels Bohr

Bohr enjoyed the fact that so much of the quantum physics he was developing made no sense. He reveled in its frequent contradictions and insisted that different aspects of the same thing could be in a kind of conflict (but were complementary) with each other. Of course, he urged his peers to accept such conflicts!

He was like one of those deranged poets who enjoys constructing rhymes that make no sense. But who nonetheless insists that his poetry is of great depth and significance.

Except he was not merely some poet filling his victim’s ears with an insult to the Muses. He was detaching physics from reality while insisting that physics does not need it. While insisting that instead it needs beautiful descriptions of contradictions!

“There is no quantum world. There is only an abstract quantum physical description. It is wrong to think that the task of physics is to find out how nature is. Physics concerns what we can say about Nature.” – Niels Bohr

That sums it all up. According to Bohr, the point of physics is not to learn about the fundamental nature of the physical world. What then is the point of physics?

According to Bohr, it is about whatever we want to say about reality. Without concerning ourselves with things like objectivity, logic or the true nature of things. It is all about “poetry” and the relationships between meaningless abstractions with no connection to an unknowable reality.

Of course, physics is about explaining the real physical world. But according to Bohr we can not know the real world, let alone explain it!

You can read more about the philosophy of Bohr in episode seven of the podcast. There we cover his philosophy in some depth.

Bohr and his disciples had an enormous influence on physics and later physicists. But he was not the only person to assert such things.

For instance, we have this quote from Werner Heisenberg:

What are Fields? Not Numbers Glued to Space!

[Yes, the featured image for this is not technically a field. It is a Feynman diagram, but it shows the kind of  thing a field actually represents].

If you have studied much physics, then you will have come across the notion of fields.

What is a field?

The Wikipedia article fairly sums up the standard definition of a “field”:

In physics, a field is a physical quantity, represented by a number or tensor, that has a value for each point in space-time.

Wikipedia.

At first, this might sound an awful lot like a mathematical description of something. Surely it is a mathematical description of the property of something. If so, what is it a mathematical description of?

Does it describe the attributes of stuff in that space? Does it describe relationships between attributes of things in space? Or the actions of something in that region?  These are the questions we need to ask ourselves.

When it is said that a field is a physical quantity, do they attach it to anything? Does it describe the attributes or relationships of matter or anything at all? Or is it just a set of numbers attached to space?

Is it proper to attach numbers to space like this?

Of course not. Space is not a physical thing; it is a concept. It refers to relationships between positions of things. We talk more about space in this article. Space can be said to have some quantities, such as area or volume.

It is perfectly valid to measure aspects of “space” if you keep in mind that what you are measuring is the relationship between entities.

You can even say, that in a sense, space can have measurable quantities such as vacuum permittivity. If you understand that this refers to the properties of or relationships between entities within that space and not the actual space itself.

However, space itself has no physical properties. It is not a kind of matter nor is space-time a special kind of existence. It has none of the sorts of attributes which should be assigned only to matter.

Does this mean that we should throw out the concepts of fields in physics?

No, I don’t think so and I will show why.

The concept of a field is certainly applicable to physical reality. We know that the concept of an electromagnetic field can be used to derive real-world quantities of physical things and to figure out how they should act.

The concept of an electromagnetic field accurately describes something “out there” in reality.

It does not describe numbers floating around magically attached to space. It describes the attributes of things spread within that space, how they act and how they are related. And it is these things which a field tells us about and which a field should help us to understand.

For instance, the electromagnetic field does not describe “space” as such. It tells us about the properties of and relationships between things in that space. It describes attributes of charged particles within a space and how they interact with one another.

Note that the gravitational field does not describe the curvature of space-time. Space is simply a relationship between positions and time is simply a measure of change.

There is no such super-entity of space-time which somehow curves and somehow explains gravity. No. The gravitational field equations describe the properties of things and how they interact.

Sorry Einstein, general relativity does not explain how gravity works.

So, if fields describe the attributes of things and how they interact, what are these things?

This is not a philosophical question as much as it is a physics question. It could be that the answer to “what do fields describe” is that we have not yet noticed the proper way things interact. Perhaps gravity is explainable by some interaction we have not yet observed.

Perhaps to better understand how the various fields in quantum mechanics works, we need to better understand the quantum world. Which would, incidentally, require understanding the quantum world in terms of objective reality and not magic.

Of all the fields, I would say the electromagnetic one is the most understood. But, unless one can explain the electromagnetic field in terms of the properties, actions or interactions of entities, then one does not properly understand what a field is or what it refers to.

Saying “well, space has all of these quantities” is not enough, you need to show how these quantities are the properties, actions or interactions of entities.

Note, that it is fine to admit that we do not yet understand what these fields describe. If we can show that these field equations we have are indeed how this stuff works, then this is an important step. And to be fair, the field equations we have are generally quite successful here.

It is important to acknowledge this. We can make a lot of progress understanding how things behave by studying field equations, making predictions and showing that yes, that is how that stuff works.

However, at some point, we should try to figure out more about what the fields are describing. We should not just stop at the math and say “well, space has these numbers stuck to it”. No, we should try to study the nature of the entities the numbers are describing.

And that is where modern physics fails.

We don’t know what the fields are or what they describe. Certainly not completely, not fully.

fields
This is something like what a field is … not space with numbers glued to it.

Many in physics do see that we should try to figure this out. Many others do not seem to see any need, as though the mathematics is somehow some kind of primary. When it evidently is not.

This is the kind of attitude we need to challenge. Unfortunately, I have no doubt, we will see a lot more of this in our continued exploration of the problems in modern physics.

If you see any physicists or anyone else talking about fields in a rational way, please let us know. We are aware such people exist; however, we would love to collect more such examples. Please message us on Facebook or contact us at contact@metaphysicsofphysics.com.