I am preparing a colloquium that I am giving in our department tomorrow and
so I do not have time to write. I enclose two references:
1) "Mind from matter? : an essay on evolutionary epistemology" / by Max
Delbrück ; edited by Gunther S. Stent ... [et al.] Publisher Palo Alto,
Calif. : Blackwell Scientific Publications, c1986
2) "What is life? : the physical aspect of the living cell ; with, Mind and
matter ; & Autobiographical sketches" / Erwin Schrödinger Publisher
Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, c1992.
From: Jonathan Clarke <email@example.com>
Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>
Date: Thursday, April 05, 2001 7:17 PM
Subject: Re: preposterous
>Careful of tautology here: defining the big things in biology as that done
>To be honest I was not aware on any contribution to biology by the two
>you name, but doubtless that is my ignorance. Please enlighten me.
>Of course one could also mention Linnaeus, Harvey, Lister, Pasteur, Koch,
>Darwin, Wallace, Mendel, Diamond, Ayala, and Florey, none of whom were
>physicists (to my knowledge). Of course in the 20th century the field of
>biology is now so vast that it is impossible to keep track of who is who.
>Moorad Alexanian wrote:
>> I have always said that physics is the prototype of science and I do not
>> know of any reasonable argument against that. The proof of that is the
>> historical order in which the different sciences achieved maturity.
>> biology, historical biology, etc. without the experimental scientific
>> developed by the likes of Kepler, Newton, Galileo, etc. By knowing what
>> science is, then we are in a position to know what it is not. For
>> it is self-evident to me that the fundamental question of origins is not
>> scientific question, the answer lies outside of science. It is foolish to
>> attempt to find a theory for it. I never said that other sciences
>> teach physicists something new. But it is true that the people who did
>> things in biology were physicists, viz., Schrodinger, Delbruck, etc.
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: george murphy <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>> To: Jonathan Clarke <email@example.com>
>> Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>
>> Date: Thursday, April 05, 2001 9:40 AM
>> Subject: Re: preposterous
>> >Jonathan Clarke wrote:
>> >> Was it Rutheford who said that "Science consists of physics and stamp
>> >> collecting"? I think that attitude with its self righteous sense of
>> >> superiority to lesser mortals has permeated conciously or otherwise
>> >> the culture of physicists. Certainly when I was an undergraduate I
>> >> encountered it and it was only partlyu tongue in cheek. This has been
>> >> reinforced by much of the popular work of the philosophy of science
>> >> Popper and Kuhn) also being written from the perspective where physics
>> >> provided the norm and the illustrations. At least, that is how I
>> >> them. If we are going to talk about philosophy of science I think we
>> >> to conciously distance ourselves from such views because they are so
>> >> ingrained.
>> >By way of throwing some petrol on the fire -
>> > There is some truth in the statement attributed to Rutherford.
>> >Rutherford didn't say this there is a nice substitute in a statement of
>> >_Der Chemiker der kein Physiker ist ist gar nichts - "The chemist who is
>> not a
>> >physicist is nothing at all." Rutherford of course thought it a great
>> >he had gotten the Nobel Prize for - Chemistry!) Physics achieves a
>> >degree of precision and certainty in the areas in which its methods can
>> >applied, and other sciences gain considerably when it becomes possible
>> >physical theories to them. The application of thermodynamics and
>> >mechanics to chemistry is an obvious example.
>> > However -
>> > 1) The methods of physics _can't_ be adoped (at least with our
>> >or any forseeable state of understanding) as the _modus operandi_ of
>> >sciences - e.g., evolutionary biology.
>> > 2) Physics has achieved so much success by working with
>> >equations and "bottom-up causality" that we tend to forget that those
>> >need boundary conditions (in space & in time), & such conditions bring
>> >something like "top-down causality". The nature of living systems may
>> >to this in crucial ways. This doesn't mean that they can never be
>> described in
>> >terms of physics, but the ways in which the necessary physics will have
>> >formulated may be rather different from that of the present day.
>> > 3) The fact that physics does achieve a higher degree of
>> >certainty than other sciences doesn't mean that those other sciences
>> >us anything at all or give us any confidence in their results. I think
>> that is
>> >the mistake Moorad has been making: Physics gives precise agreement
>> >theory and observation for many phenomena and historical geology and
>> >biology don't give as precise correlations for the phenomena they deal
>> with, so
>> >we can't place any reliance on the claims of the latter sciences. But
>> >doesn't follow.
>> >George L. Murphy
>> >"The Science-Theology Interface"
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