Karl Popper versus Thomas Kuhn | Page 4 | INFJ Forum

Karl Popper versus Thomas Kuhn

Discussion in 'Philosophy and Religion' started by Ren, Aug 26, 2020.

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  1. OP
    Ren

    Ren Pin's android / The Maker / ≅ INFP

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    Oh no! Take good care of your bro, wolly. I'll chat to you tomorrow.

    I'll probably return to some of your earlier posts in the meantime.
     
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  2. wolly.green

    wolly.green Permanent Fixture

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    Haha thanks. Same here. Take care.
     
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  3. Aaron Thyne

    Aaron Thyne Regular Poster

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    It came out of me like an exorcism. :tearsofjoy:
     
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  4. Sorn

    Sorn Regular Poster

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    I just wanted to point out that there are limits in all sciences
    that can actually no longer be captured.
    Think of quantum physics with indeterminacy.
    Or the theory of relativity with black holes, or infinity
    One thinks of Gödel and mathematics.
    Even if one deals with the tuning in music, there
    you get to the point where you realize that something is wrong (pytagorean comma)

    And this is how I see it with all the theories. As well as the verification of theories.
    Why does ice float on water? Because it is lighter.
    Why is it lighter? Because its volume in relation to mass is greater than water.
    Why is its volume larger? Because the molecules of water are dipoles that form hydrogen bonds to the neighbouring molecule.
    Why are the molecules dipoles? Because the charges of the hydrogen atoms repel the charges of the oxygen.
    This could go on like this for a while. One would not arrive at a final explanation.
    In the end you ask yourself, why do we even exist, and why we can think about it.

    Shouldn't it just be enough to experience that ice floats on water?

    For me, all the theories are just probabilities that follow a Gaussian curve.
    With all theories there are outliers and anomalies. Who wants to claim that these
    "wrong" measurements are untrue or wrong? I think our reality allows for outliers.

    It is us humans who like to put everything into drawers. We are so convinced
    and obsessed with being able to grasp everything exactly, that we do not accept extraordinary or we do
    not want to allow the supernatural because it does not fit into our drawers.
    Outliers are real, and cannot be checked (otherwise they could not be
    outliers).

    And this is the great dilemma in science. As long as people are in their
    Addiction to provability, they will not be able to understand the true nature of the world.

    For this reason, I am skeptical about epistemology.
     
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  5. wolly.green

    wolly.green Permanent Fixture

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    I'm not all that familiar with Carnap, so I don't there is much for me to add. What I will say, however, is that this "structure" that you refer to had to come from somewhere. In fact, it sounds exactly like what Popper would call a conjecture. Am I getting this right?
     
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  6. wolly.green

    wolly.green Permanent Fixture

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    Well yes, there are always anomalies that will be unexplained. Always outliers, as you put it, that will be just beyond the reach of our current explanatory framework. Karl Popper covers this ground in almost every book he's written. Here's the thing, this isn't a "limit of science" as much as it is a testament to the infinitude of ignorance.

    Hidden in your comment, I suspect, is the assumption that science is nothing more than an accumulation of explanatory theories; as if science is equivalent to the theories it produces. But this is a misconception. Science isn't the knowledge it creates, but rather the process that scientists use to discover truth in the first place. Science is the process of using reason and criticism -- along with experimental testing -- to distinguish truth from fiction.

    You imply that having outliers exposes a flaw in science because it means there must be gaps in our knowledge. But as I have just explained, science is process, not a repository of knowledge. The fact that there are gaps in what we know is a testament to our ignorance, not an indictment of the scientific method.
     
    #66 wolly.green, Aug 29, 2020
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  7. Sorn

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    But then the problem is not the science itself. Science is rather an abstract construct (like mathematics), which tries to explain reality. The problem is the people, the scientists with their preconceived opinions. Or also opinions that are currently allowed.
    For example archaeology. In almost every TV show about archaeology there is the statement that scientists are surprised that our ancestors were able to do this or that. Something that, in my opinion, common sense had long since recognized.
    Ideas that do not correspond to the spirit of the times are rejected.
    One can always only hope that the truth will one day pave the way.
    I have a scientific profession myself. And as you wrote before, many things can be explained with different theories. Unfortunately, we do not yet have a time machine to check why certain events (your power failure) really happened. Scientifically you can only "prove" things that are repeatable. But is this really true? I can calculate a mathematical formula 1000 times, and it always comes out the same (except for fractals?). But in fact a physical experiment must always give different results, because we cannot include all disturbing factors in our calculations. The "pure" formula may be correct, but it does not explain reality. Science itself may be "pure", but we can never apply it "pure".

    Well, I don't know if what I am writing has anything to do with Popper and Kuhn, but it is my personal conviction regarding knowledge.
     
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  8. John K

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    I'm not sure I have the epistemological assets to contribute effectively here because I lack the intimate knowledge of the works of the actors in the dichotomy you pose @Ren. On the face of the discussion here I would perhaps side with Kuhn, because my gut feeling is that nothing in the real world can ever be certain, including the constructs of philosophy. But then I speak as someone who has to take the external world as a possibility rather than a given, so nothing is certain.

    I think this issue, like so many, pivots on the concept of 'truth'. What in God's name is it, as Pilate asked Jesus at his trial? I do not know what truth is in terms of factual statements about the real world, and my gut tells me that fundamental truth is irrelevant to fundamental reality, because there is no unambiguous fundamental reality - absolute truth is just an invention of the human psyche and I don't feel it exists in deep nature. It's a bit like the mathematical concept of a dimensionless point which again has no physical existence.

    Science unconscionably skitters between truth as utility and truth as something almost Platonic and eternal. In the end, we value science beyond the range of gurus in ivory towers because of its utility, which seems to be almost boundless. Who cares whether it's absolutely true or not when it actually works - for example, as evidenced by the incredible technology that allows me to make this post lol. Maybe this should be thought of as Popper 'utilitarianism' - if it's useful then keep it, if it isn't discard it. And so we continue to use Newtonian mechanics even though we falsified it in absolute terms long ago - because it is most incredibly useful.
     
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  9. Sorn

    Sorn Regular Poster

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    I don't know what the problem is with me. I always have trouble making friends with the thoughts of dead philosophers. I judge their statements by my thoughts. Not my thinking by theirs. Is that haughty of me?
     
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  10. John K

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    It could well be sort of pride lol. It could also be a fear of adventure, a fear to challenge your inner worldview in case it's proved lacking.

    Something that I believe all INFJs are capable of is actually holding many worldviews at the same time rather than just settling for one - we can protect each one inside its own inner room and move between them. It's a bit like we suspend belief when we become immersed inside the world of a great work of fiction, and it enriches us beyond measure. It takes a little practice that's all, but I think Ni takes to this sort of context shifting like a duck to water once it's freed from the constant carping criticism of tertiary Ti, which just kills the experience dead. Go on an adventure and see the world from the viewpoints of these great men. The point is that you don't relinquish your basecamp world-view, but you can adopt others alongside it and move between them to see what the world looks like from the different perspectives. Merges can happen between these of course, and that's a very fulfilling experience.
     
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  11. Sorn

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    Popper would actually interest me once. It is said that he has translated his ideas into a comprehensible language.
    I don't want to waste my time with some chatterbox who only wants to show off what complicated sentences he can write.
    Because someone who has really understood a thing is also able to explain it to others in simple sentences.
     
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  12. John K

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    I find this isn’t so in science. Often the greatest innovators are completely opaque to non specialists. There’s a whole industry of people who follow some of them and put their ideas into easy to follow books for the layman, but the scientist is only interested in communicating with other specialists with years of background in their field. Maybe some of the great philosophers are like these scientists - their aim is the development of their concepts not their communication. Reading a bit of Nietzsche I get the impression he thought everyone else was an idiot anyway so clarity of articulation was pointless lol.
     
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    #72 John K, Aug 30, 2020
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  13. Sorn

    Sorn Regular Poster

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    I had already read a lot about the theory of relativity until I finally read texts written by Einstein himself..
     
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  14. John K

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    The exceptions are a breath of fresh air - people like Feynman who’s up there with the greatest visionary physicists, but personable and really good at explaining to mere mortals. Roger Penrose is good too. I guess Richard Dawkins is another great communicator, but it gets up my nose the way he turns science into a religion.
     
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  15. wolly.green

    wolly.green Permanent Fixture

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    Of course scientists have preconceived opinions. Everyone already agrees with you that bias is a bad thing. As I have explained above, the whole point of science is to try to overcome flaws and fallibilities in the hope that we may eventually discover the truth. Criticizing science by saying 'humans are flawed' not only misses the point completely, it isn't even a criticism. Its just a fact, and one that scientists are always acutely aware of.

    The key difference between you and most scientists is that you see this is an insurmountable barrier, while they see it as an obstacle to be overcome. They are optimistic that given enough time and effort, the truth will eventually be discovered. While you, on the other hand, believe they are wasting their time. We could argue all day about who is right here, but lets not get our wires crossed. This isn't about whether humans are fallible or not. Everyone already knows we are. This is about whether our flaws can be overcome. I'm optimistic, I believe reason and creativity are powerful forces, and that they are strong enough to conquer our weaknesses. But if you believe otherwise, then that's fine too.
     
    #75 wolly.green, Aug 31, 2020
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  16. wolly.green

    wolly.green Permanent Fixture

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    I know you already claimed you know very little about Popper, but I would argue that this is a very anti-Popper sentiment.

    Utilitarianism sounds like a great idea to begin with. But the closer you look at the history of science, the less appealing it becomes. The basic idea is that if you can't find an immediate application for a theory, then it should be disregarded. Even though it may have stood the test of time and survived our best attempts at refutation, if its useless, we ought to throw it away. Hopefully, it should now be immediately obvious why this is such a flawed philosophy. If not, I can explain.
     
    #76 wolly.green, Aug 31, 2020
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  17. Sorn

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    I do not believe that science is a waste of time.
    I am also interested in many scientific directions myself.
    What bothers me is the arrogance of many scientists, at least the ones you see in public.
    And I really do not know how to separate science from scientists.
    I also don't see the problems and their solution as a barrier, but rather as an asymptotic approach, which, however, is infinite.
     
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  18. wolly.green

    wolly.green Permanent Fixture

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    Science is done by a community of flawed individuals, not in isolation. Science is bigger than the sum of its parts. This is how you separate science from scientists themselves.

    Also, I think you have misunderstood me. Human fallibility and bias is the problem to be overcome. The solution is science. You seem to believe that science is the wrong solution. But you haven't explained why.
     
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  19. John K

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    Hell no lol! That’s sort of the opposite of what I am saying and observe actually happening. What I’m saying is that we cling to theory that is logically refuted when it remains useful even so. In fact that is probably where we are with all the major physics theories - they are all falsified in absolute global terms, yet amazingly useful. There’s plenty of theory that’s true but not useful of course and is held secure by the few interested experts. A classical example is the Riemannian geometry of non linear multidimensional spaces. It was created purely for the joy of pure maths and is defined as true by the very nature of the mathematical process, but unexpectedly found use decades later as the foundational mathematical language of General Relativity.

    However, my main issue is with the concept of truth. It seems very likely to me that it suffers the same fate as the concepts of particle or point when you examine the world closely - the world is essentially ambivalent and indeterminate in bounded but crucial ways and a simple application of the idea of truth becomes murky. For all I know, metaphorically it may even turn out to be a sort of human qualia rather than an expression of something fundamental - the equivalent to asking if a muon is coloured red or blue sort of thing. But maybe that pushes me outside the scope of this thread?

    On the other hand I find it fascinating and mysterious that false theories can yet provide such accurate modelling of our world in utilitarian form. This must be saying something very profound about our reality - that it can be modelled effectively piecemeal like this. That we can synthesise our understanding of it from segments, and fits and starts, rather than facing the impossibility that it could only be grasped top down.
     
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    #79 John K, Aug 31, 2020
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  20. Sorn

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    For me science is not 'the' solution, but 'a' solution.

    At present I see a tendency that science is no longer trusted. There are more and more conspiracy theories that claim we are being manipulated by elitist science.
    When someone tells me that the earth is flat, I go to the front door and watch a sunset myself. Then I see the sun shining from under the clouds against the clouds. Then I realize that "flat earth" is nonsense.

    I am someone who likes to check everything myself:
    • I set up an experiment here at home a few months ago, measuring the speed of light with an oscilloscope and a LED.
    • Then I built myself a Michelson interferometer and looked at the interference patterns while I rotated the device by 90 degrees.
    • Later I also worked with a quantum eraser.
    • At the moment I'm building a magnetometer that should show me when solar storms will occur again.
    I remember when I was 12 years old being called to the blackboard by our math teacher. I was supposed to draw a straight line. I replied that I couldn't really do that because the ruler couldn't be really straight, because both ends were attracted to the earth.

    The problem is the education of the youth. A nation that neglects this, or does not create incentives for children to be interested in science, need not be surprised if the strangest ideas and fantasies grow in people.
    People who no longer learn to distinguish truth from lie, or even check it themselves, will chase after any charlatan who screams loud enough.
     
    #80 Sorn, Aug 31, 2020
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