RE: definition of science

From: Alexanian, Moorad <alexanian@uncw.edu>
Date: Mon Apr 25 2005 - 17:31:02 EDT

Why was Eugene Wigner so impressed and puzzled with why mathematics describes nature so successfully? Our laws of nature that are expressed in mathematical forms are over idealizations of physical reality. For instance, there is no real continuum but such a concept is useful when describing macroscopic systems. Abstract human thoughts are associated with external things but are distinct from them. That is why one of the essential components of science is predictive power and not merely explanatory power. Predictions attest to the usefulness of human thought when describing nature. Predictive power sets science apart from pseudoscience.

 

Moorad

________________________________

From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. [mailto:dfsiemensjr@juno.com]
Sent: Mon 4/25/2005 5:08 PM
To: Alexanian, Moorad
Cc: grayt@lamar.colostate.edu; asa@calvin.edu
Subject: Re: definition of science

On Mon, 25 Apr 2005 16:31:51 -0400 "Alexanian, Moorad"
<alexanian@uncw.edu> writes:
> The definition of science I gave is metaphysically sound. The
> question is if it excludes from science something that is clearly
> scientific. I do not think so. The definition is not reductionist
> since it includes the nonphysical aspect of reality. All human
> concepts, e.g., mathematical, values, meaning, are abstractions with
> no physical reality. Witness even the number pi, which is a purely
> human conception.
>
>
>
> Moorad
>
> ________________________________
The last sentence presents a curious dogma. It is purely nominalistic, a
view not universally shared. Many mathematicians are persuaded that they
discover rather than construct such relationships. Of course, one may
recognize that all terms are human inventions, but this does not mean
that anything we talk about has no reality beyond our concepts.

If pi is "a purely human conception," it follows that the rest of math is
equally so. Consequently, the equations that describe physical reality do
not. It's all rather arbitrary, and there is no lunatic fringe of
pseudoscientists.
Dave
Received on Mon Apr 25 17:32:35 2005

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