The Consolation of Philosophy
By LAWRENCE M. KRAUSS - SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN
Added: Fri, 27 Apr 2012 19:39:18 UTC
An update by the author of "A Universe from Nothing" on his thoughts, as a theoretical physicist, about the value of the discipline of philosophy
Recently, as a result of my most recent book, A Universe from Nothing, I participated in a wide-ranging and in-depth interview for The Atlantic on questions ranging from the nature of nothing to the best way to encourage people to learn about the fascinating new results in cosmology. The interview was based on the transcript of a recorded conversation and was hard hitting (and, from my point of view, the interviewer was impressive in his depth), but my friend Dan Dennett recently wrote to me to say that it has been interpreted (probably because it included some verbal off-the-cuff remarks, rather than carefully crafted written responses) by a number of his colleagues and readers as implying a blanket condemnation of philosophy as a discipline, something I had not intended.
Out of respect for Dan and those whom I may have unjustly offended, and because the relationship between physics and philosophy seems to be an area which has drawn some attention of late, I thought I would take the opportunity to write down, as coherently as possible, my own views on several of these issues, as a physicist and cosmologist. As I should also make clear (and as numerous individuals have not hesitated to comment upon already), I am not a philosopher, nor do I claim to be an expert on philosophy. Because of a lifetime of activity in the field of theoretical physics, ranging from particle physics to general relativity to astrophysics, I do claim however to have some expertise in the impact of philosophy on my own field. In any case, the level of my knowledge, and ignorance, will undoubtedly become clearer in what follows.
Russell Blackford - Talking Philosophy Comments
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Richard Dawkins - RichardDawkins.net Comments
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Richard Polt - The New York Times Comments
In this philosopher, we have the non-scientific mind -- actually in his case the anti-scientific mind -- displayed in all its lack of glory. He misses one important point after another. He seems to go out of his way to achieve a clean sweep of scientific ideas to misunderstand. If a philosopher is determined to remain ignorant of science and wantonly to misread science so comprehensively, what on earth is the point of him and his philosophy? Very depressing.
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