On the book “And if time didn’t exist?” by Carlo Rovelli: thought in movement

373 posts / 0 new
Last post
Demogorgon
Quote:I'm the one quoting

Quote:
I'm the one quoting Rovelli, baboon. And the ICC article. And Marx.

You don't quote, though, do you. You say "X said such and such" but when we look at what they actually say - as I've done several times on this thread, with both Marx and Pannekoek - we find they didn't say what you think they said.

Quote:
How will workers democratically control physics and maths?

By participating in them.

Quote:
How can they vote for the end of 'matter'? How can they alter the 'boiling point of water'? How can they get rid of 'Piltdown Man'? 'The ether'? 'Phlogiston'?

You don't seem to be aware that its actually "bourgeois science" that demonstrated the falsity of Piltdown Man, ether and phlogiston theory, etc. Those theories (technically, Piltdown Man was a conscious fraud, but that's another matter) were subjected and tested with the scientific method, and eventually superceded with better theories.

Once again, you show absolutely no understanding of how science is actually practiced. You see, there's a little thing called peer review. Let me explain how it works. A scientist submits his work to scrutiny by other scientists. They test his hypotheses and his evidence, looking for logical failures, errors and mistakes. If there are laboratory experiments invovled, they try to reproduce them.

And anyone can do this. Once I perfect my Waternator (that's a device to lower the boiling point of water, you know), I can submit it to scientific scrutiny. If it works and other people are able to build similar devices using my methods then I will go down in history as the inventor of the Waternator. The Nobel prize will be within my grasp!

Of course, in capitalism, it's not quite that easy. Why? Because the majority of workers don't have access to scientific training or scientific facilities. Communism will give control of science to workers by giving them access to science in a way that capitalism cannot. Billions of people across the planet will get involved in scientific debates, not merely on the sidelines but actually doing scientific work.

Yes, workers will debate and vote on the validity of this or that theory, but they will do so on the basis of the evidence. Just like scientists do now.

As for a practical question, like the boiling point of water, who knows, a future communist society may develop a means of altering this and may vote to do so. But they can only achieve this if they have the actual technical means to do so. As I said in post #119, this is not really altering the properties of matter, but developing a deeper understanding of them and using that understanding to manipulate them in our favour.

Now, please do correct me if I'm wrong (and I seriously mean that), but you seem to conjure up images of a workers' council issuing a decree that water will now boil at 95 degrees and reality will simply adjust itself accordingly! This is your chance, LBird. Have I misunderstood your position? If so, please explain how.

Demogorgon
On Perception, Observation and Science

I said earlier that "as for the philosophy of science, I'll be inflicting the forum with some more thoughts about that soon enough". I'm sure you'll be disappointed to know that I wasn't bluffing. For the people interested in some serious discussion, perhaps they might stimulate some further thoughts, disagreements, etc.

The question of observation always comes up in discussions of science. As I quoted earlier in the thread, Lukacs lambasts Engels for confusing the "passive" observation with what Lukacs conceives as a truly dialectical practice. Apologies for repeating, but I feel compelled to quote again: "But Engels’ deepest misunderstanding consists in his belief that the behaviour of industry and scientific experiment constitutes praxis in the dialectical, philosophical sense. In fact, scientific experiment is contemplation at its purest. The experimenter creates an artificial, abstract milieu in order to be able to observe undisturbed the untrammelled workings of the laws under examination, eliminating all irrational factors both of the subject and the object." (emphasis in original).

I've already pointed out that, in Capital, Marx actually uses the very method that Lukacs' critiques, but there's a deeper question here about the relationship between observation and practice. Part of the problem, is that I think there's a misunderstanding about what "observation" actually is. Observation implies more than simply passive perception. Even in the sense that Lukacs perjoratively describes it above, we see the experimenter deliberately, consciously and actively engaging in this "observation". Perception, for my purposes here, I am going to use in the passive sense. Observation is purposeful, active perception.

However, even passive perception is a necessary prerequisite before any meaningful interaction with a phenomena. Let's suppose for a moment that you are deprived of all sensory data. I may read excepts from Capital, play Bach, perform ballet, waft a freshly prepared curry under your nose but you'll never know.  You might interact in the crudest sense of the word - your flailing limbs may knock the curry out of my hands, for example - but you wouldn't know anything about it. It certainly wouldn't be meaningful interaction (at least, not for you; I might be upset about my curry though) and certainly would have no impact whatsover on your consciousness.

Now let us imagine further that, while in this insensate condition, I place something next to you. It's a Smurglebop. Deprived of your senses, you naturally know nothing about the Smurglebop - you cannot tell whether it's an animal or a plant or something more indescribable. In fact, you don't even know its there. In other words, you have absolutely no conception of a Smurglebop whatsoever. As with the curry, you might knock the Smurglebop over, or pass a hand through it, or have no interaction with it at all. Either way, you cannot know, and if I take away the Smurglebop before I restore your senses, you'll never be the wiser. The point of this is that all concepts have their ultimate origin in experience. To develop a concept of the Smurglebop, you have to have some sort of sensory experience of it.

Of course, we have conceptions about "things" that don't actually exist. "There is no God, but there are millions of theologians" as Paul Mattick once put it. But this sort of phantasmal conception is not created ex nihilo - it has its grounding in real experiences, even if those experiences are incorrectly interpreted.

In the passage I quoted earlier, Pannekoek talks about "laws of nature" being the products of mental creative activity. Indeed, they are but, again, these conceptual constructions are not made ex nihilo. Pannekoek explicitly, states that they are formed "out of the substance of natural phenomena"(phenomena literally meaning something perceived or observed). The natural phenomena themselves preceed the creative mental activity, they are not products of it. Without phenomena, without perception, there can be no creative mental activity.

Observation, as I stated above, is properly understood as active perception. This is why I think Lukacs is deeply mistaken in his characterisation of Engels' points about science. His view of science is wholly one-sided - even if you accept science as "passive" (and I don't), it is still one aspect of a total process by which, active, conscious humanity acts upon and changes the world. Pannekoek, although he also seems to subscribe to the mistaken idea of "passive" science, makes this very point: "But the science of the scientist is only part of the whole of human activity, only a means to a greater end. It is the preceding, passive part of his activity which is followed by the active part; the technical elaboration, the production, the transformation of the world by man". For a dialectician of Lukacs' standing, who stressed time and again the importance of looking at totality, this is a serious misstep. He seems to lapse into the bourgeois view of science as somehow detached from practice, not understanding that it is a practice in its own right.

(In case any of you wish to purchase a Smurglebop, I have a few available at a very reasonable price. All major credit cards accepted.)

Demogorgon
Lem, I do appreciate your

Lem, I do appreciate your frustration with this debate, but please don't swear at people on the forum, as you did in post #140. Robust criticism is one thing, but that goes too far.

Alf
debate

I agree with Demo that we need to raise the level of discussion here, both in form and content. Sometimes a pause to reflect helps, stepping back from the tit for tat of forum chat. 

LBird
'Doubt everything!' is our slogan, not 'matter is certain'

Demo's insistence upon the 'certainty' of 'the atmospheric boiling point of water' reveals his politics, philosophy and physics.

Demo stands for a physics of 'unchanging matter/properties/behaviour', a philosophy of 'certainty', and a politics of 'elite experts'. Democratic control by workers plays no part in this viewpoint. This is 'materialism' and Leninism.

Marx, Pannekoek and Rovelli, on the contrary, stand for a physics of 'changing social production which has a history', a philosophy of 'doubt', and a politics of 'workers' democracy'. All social production, including 'the atmospheric boiling point of water' is created by humans and can be changed and subjected to our Communist democracy. This is 'theory and practice' and Marxism.

To read Rovelli's article is to read of ideas, consciousness and doubt, in physics. He even doubts time and space, never mind 'boiling water temperature'.

As Communists, we should be encouraging an 'atmosphere of doubt' amongst workers, about everything to do with the bourgeoisie and capitalism, including its class-based, elite, physics.

But 'doubt' requires the fundamental role of ideas and theory to be stressed, but 'materialism' damns this as 'idealism' or 'utopianism'. On this thread, lem_ has clearly displayed this tendency to dismiss doubt over 'matter' as somehow 'unscientific' and unreal.

I'll know when Demogorgon becomes a revolutionary: it'll be when Demo seeks to doubt the 'atmospheric boiling point of water' as a 'truth', and starts to consider when, who, why and how, humans created the concepts of 'atmosphere', 'boiling', 'temperature scale' and 'water'.

Doubt is at the core of Marx's ideas, not certainty. History, change and democracy, by a class conscious proletariat, which has no place within the 'physical certainties' of 'materialism'.

 

LBird
Smurglebop 'exists' in consciousness prior to experience

Demogorgon wrote:

To develop a concept of the Smurglebop, you have to have some sort of sensory experience of it.

This is a good example of the nonsense that 'materialism' encourages.

Einstein specifically said that we can create 'sensory experience' with our creative ideas.

Marx said that 'sensory experience' is social, and thus changes in history. 'Smurglebops' appear and disappear in 'sensory experience' throughout socio-historical production.

'Things exist' because of our 'theory and practice', not because of 'observation' of the 'material'.

Humans are active in nature, not passive observers; they are producers, not simply consumers.

At the core of Demo's ideas is the 'biological individual' and their own 'sensory experience'. This is simply bourgeois ideology, dressed up as 'physics'.

Marx's 'Value' is good example of a concept invented without prior 'sensory experience' - there is no 'matter' to "experience with one's senses" in 'value'.

Value is a social relationship, requiring 'theory and practice' to 'experience'. Our 'senses' cannot detect 'value' without prior conceptual invention.

  

LBird
Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to think

Demo's method of 'sensory experience' determining or being necessary for new 'ideas', can be summed up as the materialist method of 'practice and theory', in that order.

Marx's method is the entirely different one of 'theory and practice', in that order. That is, doubt, criticism and creativity in consciousness precedes sensation.

Materialism damns this as 'idealism'.

Modern physics looks to Marx's method. That's why Rovelli's article is interesting for Communists, because it stresses doubt.

That includes doubt about the 'atmospheric boiling point of water', Demo.

 

LBird
Physicists are not the best philosophers

I should make it clear, given my political criticisms, that I think that Demogorgon is honestly trying to defend 'physics'; but also that Demo is a poor philosopher, and doesn't realise where his 'materialist' philosophical defence of 'physics' will lead.

Defending 'the material' is, politically, defending the indefensible.

Politically and philosophically, it is a bourgeois strategy, and will end in the denial of the right of organised workers to decide for themselves whether a particular 'sensation' exists, or not.

The referral of social decisions about the 'existence of reality' to either individuals or an elite removes power from the organised class conscious proletariat.

'Doubt' is social, and can only be resolved by a vote.

We are not simply 'biological individuals', which is where 'materialism' inexorably leads.

Physics is a political battleground, not an 'objective pursuit' of 'real matter', to be settled by ahistorical, asocial, senses.

'Truth' changes.

Demogorgon
Limited time, so limited

Limited time, so limited response.

Quote:
Now, please do correct me if I'm wrong (and I seriously mean that), but you seem to conjure up images of a workers' council issuing a decree that water will now boil at 95 degrees and reality will simply adjust itself accordingly! This is your chance, LBird. Have I misunderstood your position? If so, please explain how.

Four posts, and you still refuse to answer the question directly! Obfuscation as art form.

Quote:
Demo stands for a physics of 'unchanging matter/properties/behaviour', a philosophy of 'certainty', and a politics of 'elite experts'.

Disingenuous strawman. I offer no epistemological certainty and neither does science. Even Comte, the "founder" of positivism, made the point that all knowledge is provisional: "The direct study of any science whatsover can only be provisional, even in regard to its own conceptions". So your claims that myself, or positivism for that matter, offers claims of certainty is utterly false.

Science, by definition, is sceptical, it "doubts" as you put it. It is not content with examining the surface level of phenonema but by unpicking how the unobservable mechanisms behind phenomena function. This is why it constructs theories, but those theories are always subject to refinement by encountering new phenomena or better explanations.

I don't state with certainty that the boiling point of water is 100 degrees C, I observe that water boils at that temperature in appropriate conditions (pure water, 1 atmosphere). Until such a time that someone is able to provide consistent evidence that this is not the case, I'll accept that as a provisional (i.e. subject to change) truth. In my practice, I will build machines based on this principle and, as long as they work, this would seem to reinforce this provisional truth. In practice, I find the truth of my thinking.

Quote:
Value is a social relationship, requiring 'theory and practice' to 'experience'. Our 'senses' cannot detect 'value' without prior conceptual invention.

The theory of value was developed by observing that concrete, real, material humans exchange concrete, real, material objects and yet they seemed to do this in a way that the concrete material properties of those objects could only partially explain. Something was happening below the surface of the immediate. The value theorists observed this phenomenon and then developed a theory to explain why this happened. Exchange took place long before Adam Smith developed the Labour Theory of Value!

The difference, as I have stated before, is that value is the result of the behaviour of conscious human beings who can (as demonstrated again, by observing societies that do not function on the basis of the law of value) act in different ways. Water, however, is not conscious and behaves simply as water and has no choice about it.

The whole purpose of science is to develop an understanding of the unobservable, what lies behind phenonema. Nearly all observation carried out in science is, in fact, indirect. But this doesn't mean it takes place in a sensory vacuum. To quote Galileo, "we measure what is measurable" and through inference try to make sense of this sensory data. But the process doesn't stop there. The scientist actively seeks new phenomena, as predicted by his inference, to confirm the conclusions of his theorising.

Allow me to quote directly from Einstein (another "authority" that you refer to liberally but rarely actually quote): "The intuitive grasp of the essentials or a large complex of facts leads the scientist to the postulation of a hypothetical basic law, or several such basic laws. From the basic law (system of axioms) he derives his conclusion as completely as possible in a purely logically deductive manner. These conclusions, derived from the basic law (and often only after time consuming developments and calculations), can then be compared to experience, and in this manner provide criteria for the justification of the assumed basic laws." Later he says, "the researcher always starts out from facts, whose mutual connections are his aim".

Most importantly, he says "But the truth of a theory can never be proven. For one never knows if future experience will contradict its conclusion; and furthermore there are always other conceptual systems imaginable which might coordinate the very same facts."

So Einstein is actually very clear: researchers start with facts, then construct hypotheses, and test these hypotheses on the basis of their internal logic, previous experiences and then new experience.

I may not be a good philosopher, but I am capable of reading what these people actually say.

Quote:
'Doubt' is social, and can only be resolved by a vote.

Reading, however, doesn't seem to be your strong suit. Did you completely miss everything I said about peer review, as it happens now? Did you miss what I said when I said "Yes, workers will debate and vote on the validity of this or that theory, but they will do so on the basis of the evidence. Just like scientists do now." (This naturally doesn't preclude disagreement, just as scientists disagree now.)

Your presentation of this is purely arbitrary, as if a vote on something magically changes reality. Instead of Marxism, you offer mysticism. Instead of class consciousness, you offer class Canutism.

But, once again, I offer you that chance to engage directly with my points. If I have mischaracterised your position, show me how. What method will workers councils use to vote on matters of science?

LBird
Illiterate? No, just ideologically blind

Demogorgon wrote:

I may not be a good philosopher, but I am capable of reading what these people actually say.

I'm afraid that you're neither, Demo.

Your quoting of Pannekoek saying 'creating', but you not actually 'reading' this, proves your latter claim to be wrong, too.

Have fun with your 'materialism'.

LBird
Back on the 'pure researcher' carousel

Demogorgon wrote:
...researchers start with facts...

Where do these 'non-theoretical facts' come from, to get to you, Demo?

You're not claiming, again, that 'the rocks talk to you'? And you alone, so that workers can't vote on whether they constitute 'facts' or not?

Surely even you have heard of 'the theory-ladenness of facts'?

D wrote:
...then construct hypotheses...

Oh no, not again! The old, discredited 'practice and theory' method, of the 19th century!

It's getting pathetic that you know so little about either philosophy or physics. Well, modern, 21st century p & p, anyway.

It's all down to your elitist political views, that suggest that you and an elite have a method that workers can't employ.

'Researchers' are ideologists, Demo. They are part of this society, and not part of the mythical 'pure of heart', that the bourgeosie likes to pretend does its 'science'.

baboon
Don't quote me.

As you say in a post above L. Bird: "I'm the one quoting Rovelli Baboon". But in fact you very rarely quote him. It further appears to me that you have very little understanding of his work or of scientific research generally. Do you think Rovelli's work came from nowhere? From Anaximander to today there is a whole range of scientists and phycists who have contributed to , laid the basis for and inspired the work of Rovelli. There are dozens of them too numerous to mention. And the great majority of these scientists based their works on doubts, curiousity, intuition, observation, experiment, validation in order to take the knowledge of mankind forward and very much against the weight of the scinetifica establishment.

The weight of the latter, tied closely to the ruling class, is always heavy and backward and it is used to bend "errant" scientists to their will. Even Einstein, once he made his original discovery of spacetime drew back from its obvious conclusions and invented his "cosmological constant" in order to sanctify a mechanical, unchanging view of the universe. He refused to accept the view of the French scientist Le Maitre (not sure about the spelling) that spacetime meant that the universe was in constant movement. It wasn't until Hubble and his team worked out by observation, experiment, measurement, validation (around the mid-30s) that galaxies were flying apart in all directions - a phenomenon that Le Maitre said would happen based on the General Theory of Relativity - that Einstein was forced to accept Le Maitre's view and was big enough to apologise to him for rejecting his theory out of hand.

 

Demogorgon
More argument by assertion

Quote:
Your quoting of Pannekoek saying 'creating', but you not actually 'reading' this, proves your latter claim to be wrong, too.

And yet, once again, you seem incapable of demonstrating how my interpretation of what Pannekoek says is faulty by directly comparing what I say to what he says. You just say I'm wrong. Well, I can do that, too. You're wrong LBird. Wrong, wrong, wrong, I tell you!

It's an utterly devastating riposte, isn't it?

Quote:
Where do these 'non-theoretical facts' come from, to get to you, Demo?

Perception and observation, as elucidated in post #144.

But, I'm more than happy for you to prove me wrong. Tell me, following the scenario I offered in that post, how would you go about constructing a theory about Smurglebops? How would you even know about Smurglebops? Even if you managed it, how would you ever know such a theory could be correct?

Quote:
Surely even you have heard of 'the theory-ladenness of facts'?

Indeed, I have and so have scientists. That is why every hypothesis and theory is tested again and again and again, and is always subject to review. Experiments are repeated ad nauseum, looking for the evidential errors, for the places where the theory fails or the facts don't add up.

We also know that perception can be fooled - as any magician will tell you - and preconceptions can influence perception. There's an interesting discussion here. But, look at the conclusion: "The moral of these examples is that although paradigms or theoretical commitments sometimes have an epistemically significant influence on what observers perceive, it can be relatively easy to nullify or correct for their effects."

It is scientific method that allows us to do this, even if this is always, always provisional.

But, that is not what you seem to be arguing. As far I can tell, you are taking Kant's aphorism - "There are only two ways in which we can account for a necessary agreement of experience with the concepts of its objects: either experience makes these concepts possible or these concepts make experience possible" - and deciding upon the second option.

But this cannot be correct. It cannot be correct on an individual basis, because as babies we all develop perception long before we develop the capacity to create concepts, let alone theories and concepts. It cannot be true historically, because before we became humans, we were animals (right back to single celled organisms) and our ancestors perceived long before they developed theories and concepts.

More to the point, this limitation cannot be absolute, or how would any theory every be overturned, falsified or superceded. If theory determines observation, why would we ever discover facts that don't conform to theory?

You listed phlogiston and ether theories as example of theories that were once held to be true and now are considered false. But you are utterly silent on how  or why they came to be considered false. And, what's even worse, is that by using these theories in this way to ridicule the idea of certainty (which neither I, nor positivism, or anyone else ever posited anyway), you actually concede that is possible to come to some definite conclusions about the world, i.e. that phlogiston and ether theories are false. Well, how do you know?

Quote:
Oh no, not again! The old, discredited 'practice and theory' method, of the 19th century!

As articulated by your hero, Einstein, who you insist on bringing into every debate. I can't help it if he says something you don't want him to say.

But, if it's any consolation, the outline he offers is far too schematic. The observe-hypothesise-test-observe cycle is overly formalistic. In reality, scientists work in a far messier way, jumping in and out of the cycle at various points. It's not really how it's taught in schools anymore (if it's taught at all), as this nice little resource shows. But the point is, to quote from the above, is "it captures the core logic of science: testing ideas with evidence".

But, as every single authority I've quoted on this matter, says, ideas do not appear ex nihilo. They are "formed from the substance of natural phenomena" (Pannekoek). You claim differently, but you've failed to demonstrate it.

Quote:
It's getting pathetic that you know so little about either philosophy or physics.

I know, right? I'm genuinely embarrased about it, if I'm honest. I claim no special expertise. I have no formal education in science beyond A-Level - and I didn't do very well, although I did better in Physics than in Chemistry. I have no formal education in philosophy, although my degree did require me to torture myself by reading Derrida, Foucault, Lacan and a smorgasbord of other such stuff. All my arguments stand or fall on their own merits. I have no doubt that many comrades could probably drive a truck through some of my arguments, the holes are so wide.

But that person doesn't seem to be you. In spite of my inadequacies you seem absolutely incapable of mounting even a rearguard defence against my points. Of course, you talk about how my positions are "positivist", "materialist", or "Leninist" but you don't demonstrate it. Nor do you even bother to demonstrate why positivism, materialism, or Leninism are wrong - instead, you work on the basis that these are self-evident facts.

Let's look at what you do do: you misattribute positions to other thinkers; you refuse to clarify or recant when confronted with what those thinkers actually say; you refuse to answer questions to clarify your positions; you refuse to defend your positions with either evidence or argument; and you seem to think that saying "you're positivist" ad nauseum actually is an argument.

Do you seriously think that anyone is going to be convinced of your positions by this calibre of debate? If my positions are condemned to "revolutionary irrelevance", as you put it earlier in post #131, then I'm afraid you find yourself in the position of complete irrelevance. If my knowledge of the topic is "pathetic", then what does that say about your ability to actually argue against my points.

Quote:
It's all down to your elitist political views, that suggest that you and an elite have a method that workers can't employ.

And, now we come at last to the point, where you cross the line into blatant falsification. Quote where I have said this. Demonstrate how my positions imply this. But while we're waiting for you to do this (and I suspect this will be a long time), allow my to quote what I actually said.

Demogorgon, post #143 wrote:
You see, there's a little thing called peer review. Let me explain how it works. A scientist submits his work to scrutiny by other scientists They test his hypotheses and his evidence, looking for logical failures, errors and mistakes. If there are laboratory experiments invovled, they try to reproduce them. And anyone can do this ... Communism will give control of science to workers by giving them access to science in a way that capitalism cannot. Billions of people across the planet will get involved in scientific debates, not merely on the sidelines but actually doing scientific work.

In other words, workers can and will employ the scientific method on a scale never before seen in history. And, it's obviously escaped your notice, that the majority of people actually involved in doing science today are actually workers themselves.

Once again, the facts of what I actually wrote are in direct contradiction to what you claim I say.

LBird
Remember? 'Theory-ladenness of facts'?

Demogorgon wrote:
Perception and observation.

But 'perception' is social, and therefore based on theories.

You seem to believe that 'perception' is non-theoretical.

So, how can you get these 'non-theoretical facts', to which you claim to have access?

FFS, this is basic philosophy of science.

Mind you, you seem to be able to 'read' Pannekoek without 'reading' him, so it's probably pointless me recommending some texts to you.

LBird
In fact, I am the one quoting

baboon wrote:

As you say in a post above L. Bird: "I'm the one quoting Rovelli Baboon". But in fact you very rarely quote him.

You must have missed half of the thread, baboon. Also quoted Heisenberg. Marx. Einstein. Even given my technical problems, which prevent me cutting and pasting.

baboon wrote:

It further appears to me that you have very little understanding of his work or of scientific research generally.

No, I'm afraid you don't know what 'science' is, baboon.

That's why I'm trying to teach you.

And I've got several books and articles by Rovelli, so I know his weaknesses, too.

lem_
What turns out isn't true wasn't true?

IMHO LBird's insistence there are no facts means that showing something isn't true doesn't prove it wasn't

!!!

By definition a "fact" is whatever won't turn out to be untrue 

  • If you agree that whatever will turn out to be untrue is untrue now (as per the title): then it seems that what is true now won't turn out to be untrue

Which just means that everything true now is a fact..

RECAP:

without saying how we can do such extraordinary things with no facts, LBird's belief is a bizarre pseudo belief that can only work if the forces of production have never developed and made more things possible, or everything happens just because. this doesn't bother them, because they are arguing for an absolute idealism in which nothing is known. i.e. the phrase 'idealism-material' just means, for them 'idealism-skepticism'. that they then say "and materialism" (as the term is used by marx) has no bearing, because marx's materialism does not and cannot explain away everything that happens with the assertion just because they happen to. i would welcome any attempt by LBird to explain the course of human history with a materialism which also debunks every form of scientific knowledge. but because their idealism is also skeptical, they are by definition unable to do so. i.e. you cannot turn hegel on his head if you believe there are no facts: as everything then becomes an illogic chance event which just happen..you can only loudly say "idealist-skepticism and materialsm", and then nothing else at all. marxism, and his materialsim, however, is able to do more than this. marx's materialism is both a practice and a practice which doesn't just happen. as such the supposed idealist-skeptical-materialism is also skepticism-practice , and of much use and viability as a snowflake in hell.

LBird (with no facts and so unable to know anything) cannot understand how anything happens at all.

lem_
go on...

LBird wrote:

baboon wrote:

As you say in a post above L. Bird: "I'm the one quoting Rovelli Baboon". But in fact you very rarely quote him.

You must have missed half of the thread, baboon. Also quoted Heisenberg. Marx. Einstein. Even given my technical problems, which prevent me cutting and pasting.

baboon wrote:

It further appears to me that you have very little understanding of his work or of scientific research generally.

No, I'm afraid you don't know what 'science' is, baboon.

That's why I'm trying to teach you.

And I've got several books and articles by Rovelli, so I know his weaknesses, too.

I went through the thread looking for the term "Einstein". All I found was this:

Quote:
Einstein backed up Marx's method with statements like 'It is the theory that determines what we observe'.

which is actually not an exact quote from anything einstein said i can find thru google.all i can find is lots of bourgeois philosophers claiming that he may have said that "theory determines what we observe".

and nowehere can i find einstein saying that we can't learn from past pracice, or that all scientific facts are only a product or scientific labour. so how do you, LBird, deduce that einstein is in actual agreement with you?

if he had said that theory alone and nothing else determines what we observe you may have some basis in quoting him.

like i already pointed out, the "theory ladenness" of observation is a common idea in philosophy.

LBird
'True' changes to 'untrue' and back to 'true'

I'm happy to discuss 'truth', lem_, but you'll have to tell me what 'theory of truth' you're using.

Of course, there are political and philosophical biases to every 'theory of truth'.

And discussing all those issues is required before we go anywhere near 'physics'.

LBird
Einstein et al quotes

lem_, I've given plenty of quotes and links in all the other threads, and I know that they were ignored, just as Marx's and Pannekoek's words are ignored on this, so if you want more quotes, read them.

I've technical problems now, which make the detailed level of quoting I did then, impossible to replicate.

Amongst them, I can't cut and paste, and the editing box misses keystokes, which makes it very time-consuming.

But, I freely admit that I would have reduced my quoting level, because 'evidence' seems to play no part in, for example, Demo's method.

Demogorgon
Einstein

To the best of my knowledge, the quote LBird used was actually related by Heisenberg who attributed it to Einstein. It's not a direct quote either. In addition, context matters. Here is a fuller elaboration:

At that encounter, Heisenberg once more tried to draw attention to having not dealt with unobservable electron orbits inside atoms, but with observable radiation. He reports having said to Einstein: "Since it is acceptable to allow into a theory only directly observable magnitudes, I thought it more natural to restrict myself to these, bringing them in, as it were, as representatives of electron orbits." To this Einstein is said to have responded, "But you don't seriously believe that only observable magnitudes must go into a physical theory?" Heisenberg goes on, "In astonishment, I said: I thought that it was exactly you who had made this thought the foundation of your relativity theory....Einstein replied: Perhaps I used this sort of philosophy; but it is nevertheless nonsense (Unsinn)." And then came Einstein's famous sentence: "Only the theory decides what one can observe."

This is a critique of Heisenberg's positivism (some versions of which deal only in "observable magnitudes", the mirror image of the error of dealing only in theory). As I mentioned in a previous post, science cannot limit itself to dealing solely with the observable. The scientific process may begin and end there, but that's not the end of it, or even the point. As I put it earlier: "[science] is not content with examining the surface level of phenonema but by unpicking how the unobservable mechanisms behind phenomena function."

The irony is that most "observation" in science is actually indirect and is layered with assumptions. Temperature is usually measured with thermometers. A mercury thermometer is based on an assumption that the expansion of mercury in response to heat is uniform. You don't even perceive the thermometer directly, but the EM radiation bouncing off it into you eye. And then there's that whole traversing from the eye to the optic nerve into the brain and how the the brain processes information.

So, it's not a question of perception and observation being unproblematic. Again, as I've stated, this is why scientific method was developed, to engage in systematic, iterative observation of phenomena in an attempt to minimise the problems. Scientists deliberately try to develop scenarios that "break" theories, to seek out and test antinomines in evidence. The theories we take for granted today, were developed in a painstaking fashion through this process, creating an interdependent nexus of knowledge with theory nested inside theory.

But, none of this means that observation is useless or fundamentally unreliable either. Mediated and problematic though it is, it is nonetheless the foundation for science. And when observations conflict with theory, observation always wins. Always. The First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics are among the most fundamental theories we have - they apply across relativistic, classical and quantum scenarios. They are among the foundations for all those theories. But, if someone turned up on a University doorstep with a perpetual motion machine (which thermodynamics predicts as impossible) then thermodynamics is blown out of the water and you'd be talking a paradigm shift that would make the development of  the "New Physics"  look like a minor ripple. (Needless to say, scientists would regard such a machine with a great deal of scepticism and would subject such claims to very careful scrutiny.)

LBird
Theory precedes 'observation', which is a 'social practice'

Demogorgon wrote:

But, none of this means that observation is useless or fundamentally unreliable either.

I've never claimed it is, Demo, only that within Marx's method of 'theory and practice', 'observation' comes within 'practice'.

D wrote:

Mediated and problematic though it is, it is nonetheless the foundation for science. And when observations conflict with theory, observation always wins. Always.

This is simply not true, Demo. The 'foundation' is 'theory and practice'. As you pointed out, Einstein recognised Marx's method. The fact is, 'theory often wins'. If there is a clash, it's just as acceptable in science to ditch the 'observation', because it clashes with the 'theory'.

 

lem_
define this define that...

LBird wrote:

I'm happy to discuss 'truth', lem_, but you'll have to tell me what 'theory of truth' you're using.

Of course, there are political and philosophical biases to every 'theory of truth'.

And discussing all those issues is required before we go anywhere near 'physics'.

i don't think i need any particular high theory about truth, i've tried to show that without FACTS nothing is true.

please do engage with what i said without fobbing everyone off.

as to your quotes: they've all been at best inconclusive, out of their context. i.e., you haven't proven anyone agrees with you.

lem_
nothing was untrue

wait now i see your post title

Quote:
'True' changes to 'untrue' and back to 'true'

so do you disagree and think that

Quote:
showing something isn't true doesn't prove it wasn't

do you think that it used to be true that god created the world in 7 days? you seem convinced lol. you must really believe that we cannot know anything in the past was untrue!!!

that's simply absurd.

LBird
Yes, 'define' is the primary act in 'theory and practice'

lem_ wrote:

LBird wrote:

I'm happy to discuss 'truth', lem_, but you'll have to tell me what 'theory of truth' you're using.

Of course, there are political and philosophical biases to every 'theory of truth'.

And discussing all those issues is required before we go anywhere near 'physics'.

i don't think i need any particular high theory about truth, i've tried to show that without FACTS nothing is true.

please do engage with what i said without fobbing everyone off.

as to your quotes: they've all been at best inconclusive, out of their context. i.e., you haven't proven anyone agrees with you.

lem_, I've repeatedly engaged with you in good faith.

But you keep insulting me. So, initially I fob you off, then ignore you.

Perhaps 'individual you' doesn't 'need any particular high theory about truth', but human science does, as I'm sure even Demo will agree.

Now, I've been perfectly polite, so please return the favour.

If you want to discuss 'facts' and 'truth', fine, I'll help you to learn.

But if you assume that you, as an individual 'I', already 'know', there's no room for discussion.

LBird
I can feel a 'fob off' coming on...

lem_ wrote:

wait now i see your post title

Quote:
'True' changes to 'untrue' and back to 'true'

so do you disagree and think that

Quote:
showing something isn't true doesn't prove it wasn't

do you think that it used to be true that god created the world in 7 days? you seem convinced lol. you must really believe that we cannot know anything in the past was untrue!!!

that's simply absurd.

'Absurd'?

Thanks for the considered response, lem_.

lem_
how can anything have been untrue?

Quote:
Perhaps 'individual you' doesn't 'need any particular high theory about truth', but human science does, as I'm sure even Demo will agree.

ok so you too must define "truth".

lem_
what was ever untrue?

with no facts, what is untrue now may have been true: so we cannot know anything was untrue.

LBird wrote:
'Absurd'?

Thanks for the considered response, lem_.

it is absurd if you believe that nothing at all was untrue.

this is kinda difficult to think straight about.......

you CAN show that a past theory was, say, inconsistent and so untrue. but either that has not changed, or all you've shown is that it is now inconsistent and untrue.

and like i already argued (and quoted below), for you (i.e. without facts) showing something is untrue now doesn't show it wasn't,

whereas if nothing has changed you cannot show that anything that was actually true was actually untrue. as such, you cannot show anything that was true is not a fact.

Quote:
By definition a "fact" is whatever won't turn out to be untrue 
  • If you agree that whatever will turn out to be untrue is untrue now (as per the title)then it seems that what is true now won't turn out to be untrue

Which just means that everything true now is a fact..

i.e. if you reject facts you are stuck with not knowing if anything was untrue

Demogorgon
Quote:This is simply not

Quote:
This is simply not true, Demo. The 'foundation' is 'theory and practice'. As you pointed out, Einstein recognised Marx's method. The fact is, 'theory often wins'. If there is a clash, it's just as acceptable in science to ditch the 'observation', because it clashes with the 'theory'.

Firstly, Einstein didn't directly engage with Marxism in any of the extracts that have been referred to, as far as I know. You offer no evidence for this, other than your oft-repeated, but never demonstrated, claim that Marx's and Einstein's espitemological approaches are cognate. Haven't you worked it out yet LBird? You can claim anything, but without evidence it means nothing. I can claim to run a marathon but actually attempting to do so would probably end up with me visiting the cardiac ward.

As for your idea about theory trumping observation ... well, my jaw actually dropped when I read this. Name one incidence where a scientific theory has survived unaltered after consistent falsifying evidence has been uncovered. I have hesitated to directly disparage your knowledge until now because, for all I know, you could be a scientific and philosophical genius. You've never actually demonstrated this, but it could be true.

But this is a truly staggering blunder on your part and, in my view, demonstrates that you actually understand nothing of what you (claim) to have read.

Let's just consider the implications of what you've just said. I develop a theory of population that states that only 100 people can survive on a desert island. Someone then finds an island with 150 people living quite happily on it. Our scientist can't quite believe his eyes and demands a recount (if he's very sure of his theory, he may demand several). It's still 150. Now, a scientist - nay, anyone with a shred of intellectual integrity - would then conclude that he has screwed up his theoretical calculations and goes back to try and find the error in his theory, either adapting it until it conforms with observed reality or shelving it altogether and starting again. But, it seems, you would simply carry on declaring confidently that islands of 150 people simply do not exist!

Theories can survive without observable verification, if they confrom to previous experience and demonstrate strong internal (and usually mathematical logic). This was the case for a long time with the general and special theories of relativity. But, as soon as scientist developed the means to do so, they began to test these theories (e.g. atomic clocks in aeroplanes). If falsifying evidence had been found then relativity would have been either modified or abandoned. Theories do not survive evidential falsification!

If your approach is right, why do you think scientists even bother with experimentation at all?

However, I will give you this. You do "live your approach". You completely ignore all evidence presented to you, whether this is factual, logical or textual, and continue in your unshakeable conviction that you're right. It also demonstrates that debating with you is actually a complete waste of time, because if you don't respond to evidence there is simply no grounds on which to determine which of us is right.

Belief in denial of evidence may be acceptable in dogmatic ideologies, like religion, but it has no place in even the crudest forms of science and certainly not in marxism.

LBird
The yokels went slack-jawed at steam engines, too

Demogorgon wrote:

As for your idea about theory trumping observation ... well, my jaw actually dropped when I read this. Name one incidence where a scientific theory has survived unaltered after consistent falsifying evidence has been uncovered. I have hesitated to directly disparage your knowledge until now because, for all I know, you could be a scientific and philosophical genius. You've never actually demonstrated this, but it could be true.

But this is a truly staggering blunder on your part and, in my view, demonstrates that you actually understand nothing of what you (claim) to have read.

Yes, the ignorant often go slack-jawed at science, Demo.

I was prepared to believe that you'd read something about the philosophy of science, but clearly not.

Have a look at Kuhn, Feyerabend, Lakatos... dozens of others... I know that you're not going to engage with anything I say.

LBird
A bone for the hungry

Demo, have a look at Lakatos, 'The methodology of scientific research programmes' Philosophical Papers, Volume 1 CUP 2001, p. 53, on Prout and 'atomic weights', and the entangled clash between theories and observations, from 1815-1860.

Demogorgon
Unable to resist

For those interested, I think this is the document LBird is referring to.

You do realise that Prout's "law" was modified because of the various evidential disconfirmations (even though his error rates were very small), don't you? It survives in modified form today, taking into account the so-called "mass defect" due to nuclear binding energy, isotopic variation and the presence of neutrons.

Well done, you just proved my point, not yours.

You don't seem to understand that science is a process. Disconfirmation doesn't magically create new theories, so scientists may (for a while) keep going with what they have until their "creative mental activity" creates something better. Your argument is akin to looking at a seed, declaring that because it is not a tree, it can never become a tree.

There is clearly no basis for further discussion, other than my own amusement, which is not a valid reason for continuing to keep this car-crash of a thread alive.

LBird
Bluff and bluster

Demogorgon wrote:

For those interested, I think this is the document LBird is referring to.

You do realise that Prout's "law" was modified because of the various evidential disconfirmations (even though his error rates were very small), don't you? It survives in modified form today, taking into account the so-called "mass defect" due to nuclear binding energy, isotopic variation and the presence of neutrons.

Well done, you just proved my point, not yours.

You don't seem to understand that science is a process. Disconfirmation doesn't magically create new theories, so scientists may (for a while) keep going with what they have until their "creative mental activity" creates something better. Your argument is akin to looking at a seed, declaring that because it is not a tree, it can never become a tree.

There is clearly no basis for further discussion, other than my own amusement, which is not a valid reason for continuing to keep this car-crash of a thread alive.

You're just bluffing now, Demo, because your thesis that 'observation always trumps theory' has been disproved [Anyone else, read the link].

Just keep adding 'ifs, buts, maybes'... to save your face.

Unfortunately, the 'amusement' will be confined to those supporters of the bourgeoisie who can read texts, and are amazed that, apparently, Communists still inhabit the 'physical' world of the 19th century

lem_
Work with each other's attempts to prove you wrong

This argument is difficult.

I tried to show that without facts you can't have knowledge. Especially in this post, I tried quite hard i.e. for several hours,

Quote:
By definition a "fact" is whatever won't turn out to be untrue 
  • If you agree that whatever will turn out to be untrue is untrue now (as per the title)then it seems that what is true now won't turn out to be untrue

Which just means that everything true now is a fact.

However it was just ignored: so it's probably not worth doing so any further.

Without an argument from authority, it's very difficult ot present these tricky yet obvious facts.

lem_
is this a joke?

If we "prove the truth", then what we have proven cannnot change.

i.e. if everything we believe can turn out to be untrue, then we have no knowledge.

This is not just obvious, it's one of the cornerstones of being able to study anything at all about philosophy or science.

I know I'll I've done is assert the illogic of your supposed position. But what could convince you otherwise? I imagine absolutely nothing at all :-/

Fred
what goes around comes around

Demogorgon said:  "There is clearly no basis for further discussion, other than my own amusement, which is not a valid reason for continuing to keep this car crash of a thread alive."

Please Demogorgon continue with this discussion because, quite selfishly, I find it absolutely fascinating, even though I am afraid now to put the kettle on in case it never  boils. 

But I wish somehow the thread could also be related to politics. After all Marx wasn't just curious about advanced thinking in physics but was passionate about how science might further a proletarian revolution. I mean Marxism as the political science of social being. 

Even if the newest kind of scientific thinking in physics, as advocated by LBird - "theory and practice" - turned out to be the bees knees of modern scientific endeavour, and not just the "magical thinking" it occasionally  sounds like, it's a little difficult to grasp how it changes the basic fundamentals of class struggle. 

And  as for Kuhn, Feyerband and  Lakatos, referenced with approval by LBird, well they've been around for more than forty years, were everybody's red hot hope for change in the 70's and earlier, and were going to provide some sort of foundation for the great proletarian revolution in the 70's which never took place. Since then I thought they had rather lost their fashionable lustre and gently faded into obscurity along with Marcuse, Marshall McCluhan and the Frankfurt School, which school you'll remember brought Marx up to date!   Always insist on that. 

I find myself slack-jawed at the re-emergence of these dusty figures from the past. Will they have more effect this time round than they did the first time...? 

LBird
Engels died recently, in this context

'40 years'? '70s'?

On a recent SPGB thread on these issues, Fred, I referenced Pannekoek 1938, Hook 1933, Korsch 1926, Lukacs 1922, and Labriola 1896!

These are live issues still, and the battle for 'physics' is a contemporary part of the class struggle.

You only have to read the ICC's article about Rovelli to start to see the vital importance of 'doubt', and that includes doubt about 'observation'.

'Observation' is a social product of 'theory and practice', and so we have to have a method that allows us to 'doubt everything', as Marx argued, and which includes 'observation'.

We cannot simply prioritise either 'hypothesis' or 'observation', but must look to a socio-historical account of their inter-relationship overtime and within classes' production.

It's a long-dead bourgeois myth that 'observation' is the 'basis' of science.

Read the Lakatos link that Demogorgon provided, Fred.

Or better still, get the book!

LBird
Vital political implications to 'science' debate

Fred wrote:
But I wish somehow the thread could also be related to politics. After all Marx wasn't just curious about advanced thinking in physics but was passionate about how science might further a proletarian revolution. I mean Marxism as the political science of social being. 

Even if the newest kind of scientific thinking in physics, as advocated by LBird - "theory and practice" - turned out to be the bees knees of modern scientific endeavour, and not just the "magical thinking" it occasionally  sounds like, it's a little difficult to grasp how it changes the basic fundamentals of class struggle.  

Well, Fred, I always try to stress the vital political importance of these debates.

It all rests upon the view we take of 'scientific knowledge'.

Is this a 'Truth' that either individuals or an elite can 'know', without a vote by society?

If we answer 'Yes' to that question, it's the end of any pretence that only the class conscious proletariat can build its world, ie., Democratic Communism.

Fred
Hi LBird. I was just reading

Hi LBird. I was just reading Lakatos' introduction in the link provided by Demo and you, when I was summoned back to this thread.

 In his introduction Lakatos emphasises that what large numbers of people think (and might thus vote for democratically)  is frequently wrong and gives lots of examples of where historically this has been the case.  I was impressed by this. But now I find that you, a major supporter of Lakatos' thought, are advocating what he distrusts: the democratic vote as a means to ascertaining what can sort of be accepted as 'true'.    

Put to a democratic vote by workers I doubt Lakatos and his ideas would do as well as Newton.  Einstein might do very well, because his name is held in high esteem even by vast populations who haven't got a clue what Einstein actually did.  He's also featured in a couple of Hollywood films as a rather odd but weirdly loveable  and even comic  character which would endear him to many in a democratic vote.

But one  problem is that most people probably don't have any view at all of what 'scientific knowledge' is never mind be capable of comparing differing understandings of what  it might consist of, it's validity, it's usefulness or why it's irrefutable - assuming it is! 

If and when communism is attained, then perhaps large sections of this communist-society-of-unequals living and working happily together will become 'a vast scientific community'.  But if we are to be forbidden communism till the world proletariat has itself become 'a vast scientific community' whilst still shackled by capital, then the revolution becomes an impossibility.  (Incidentally I noticed on page 2 of the Lakatos introduction linked by you and Demo, that he makes the same mistake as Popper in thinking that Russia was Socialist.  And if he understands 'socialism' to be State Capitalism which seemingly Popper did, then as the essential  scientist he should have provided his definition. But then that would have proved that he doesn't know what communism is which is surely a flaw in such a thinker as he?)

But I must finish my post here now. Back tomorrow.  

LBird
Critical reading of recommendations

Fred wrote:

Hi LBird. I was just reading Lakatos' introduction in the link provided by Demo and you, when I was summoned back to this thread.

 In his introduction Lakatos emphasises that what large numbers of people think (and might thus vote for democratically)  is frequently wrong and gives lots of examples of where historically this has been the case.  I was impressed by this. But now I find that you, a major supporter of Lakatos' thought, are advocating what he distrusts: the democratic vote as a means to ascertaining what can sort of be accepted as 'true'.  

It's a big error, Fred, to assume that I 'support' anyone that I quote or recommend - and sometimes I include Marx in the 'doubt' category!  

Fred wrote:

Put to a democratic vote by workers I doubt Lakatos and his ideas would do as well as Newton.  Einstein might do very well, because his name is held in high esteem even by vast populations who haven't got a clue what Einstein actually did.  He's also featured in a couple of Hollywood films as a rather odd but weirdly loveable  and even comic  character which would endear him to many in a democratic vote.

But one  problem is that most people probably don't have any view at all of what 'scientific knowledge' is never mind be capable of comparing differing understandings of what  it might consist of, it's validity, it's usefulness or why it's irrefutable - assuming it is! 

If and when communism is attained, then perhaps large sections of this communist-society-of-unequals living and working happily together will become 'a vast scientific community'.

This certainly accords well with my views.

Fred wrote:

 But if we are to be forbidden communism till the world proletariat has itself become 'a vast scientific community' whilst still shackled by capital, then the revolution becomes an impossibility.

This conclusion depends upon one's political view regarding the 'process of revolution', Fred.

I think that we've debated these differences before, and often!

Fred wrote:

 (Incidentally I noticed on page 2 of the Lakatos introduction linked by you and Demo, that he makes the same mistake as Popper in thinking that Russia was Socialist.  And if he understands 'socialism' to be State Capitalism which seemingly Popper did, then as the essential  scientist he should have provided his definition. But then that would have proved that he doesn't know what communism is which is surely a flaw in such a thinker as he?)

Yep! Spot on, Fred.

Lakatos, like all philosophers of science, including Kuhn and Feyerabend (even Engels!), can be profitably read, but must also be read critically from a Democratic Communist perspective.

'Theory and practice', eh?

LBird
Ditching unwanted'observations' is part of the scientific method

Paul Dirac OM FRS theoretical physicist, wrote:
It is more important to have beauty in one's equations than to have them fit experiment.

In other words, ideals of beauty can trump (supposed) 'physical reality', according to physics.

That is, the physicist awaits an 'observation' that suits his purposes, and simply ignores any previous 'observation' that doesn't.

LBird
Another Fellow of the Royal Society

Sir Peter Medawar OM CBE FRS Nobel laureate wrote:
...what he sees conveys no information until he knows beforehand the kind of things he is expected to see.

'Observation' is a product of social prejudice.

MH
honest use of sources

LBird wrote:

You're just bluffing now, Demo, because your thesis that 'observation always trumps theory' has been disproved [Anyone else, read the link].

Leaving aside the childish 'tit-for-tat', I’ve also read the link to the Lakotos text and for me it hardly represents any kind of ‘killer blow’ as LBird seems to imply. It certainly does not prove that ‘theory always trumps observation’.

In any case, Demo’s argument was more substantive:

Theories can survive without observable verification, if they confrom to previous experience and demonstrate strong internal (and usually mathematical logic). This was the case for a long time with the general and special theories of relativity. But, as soon as scientist developed the means to do so, they began to test these theories (e.g. atomic clocks in aeroplanes). If falsifying evidence had been found then relativity would have been either modified or abandoned. Theories do not survive evidential falsification!”

Similarly, the brief quote from Dirac is interesting but does not prove LBird's point. Surely the ‘beauty’ of the equations he refers to does not ‘trump’ supposed ‘physical reality’ but itself points to a more profound and complex physical reality that has not yet been verified by observation?

Ripping one-line quotes out of context in this way in order to supposedly rebut an opponent is not consistent with a commitment to clarification through debate.

I also think Fred is right to raise the issue of LBird’s reliance on Lakotos and other similar writers but in any case you can’t have it both ways; you can’t cite Lakotos uncritically as supposedly vindicating your own view and then in the next breath donnishly observe that of course such sources must be read critically…

 

 

MH
eh?

LBird wrote:

Sir Peter Medawar OM CBE FRS Nobel laureate wrote:
...what he sees conveys no information until he knows beforehand the kind of things he is expected to see.

'Observation' is a product of social prejudice.

"Observation is a product of social prejudice" ?!

Leaving aside the fact that Sir Peter Medawar OM CBE FRS Nobel laureate says no such thing, your arguments are becoming more extreme and ridiculous. Just stop and reflect for a bit.  

LBird
Heads still firmly in the 'material' sand

Doesn't anybody here read ICC articles?

It doesn't matter how much evidence of what physicists and scientists actually say about 'physics' is produced, it's just ignored.

MH -  you need to do the 'reflecting', mate. For quite more than 'a bit'.

 

LBird
Cosmic example of the 'theory determining observation'

And for a spectacular cosmic event that happened for nearly two years, but wasn't 'observed' in the West due to a 'theory' that insisted in immutable heavens, and so wasn't recorded, look up the supernova explosion of 1054. Chinese astronomers, not subject to Ancient Greek assumptions, did 'observe' it, and noted it down.

Two social theories, one event - but only one theory 'observed' a star as bright as Venus, visible even in daylight.

lem_
Critique ?

The problem for me with this isn't LBird's terrible appeals to authority (all confused), but that, as I think I've shown, if there are no facts then we cannot prove that anything was wrong.

What's the point of science if you can't show that even pre scientific beliefs weren't true?

Only the magical and strange technologies they just happen to create...

Demogorgon
On Sources and Conflation of Issues

It's probably a mistake even getting back into this discussion, but several points are raised.

Firstly, MH is correct on LBird's use of sources. To take just one example, Dirac, the quote is from here. Moreover, the context becomes clear when you quote the full paragraph: "I think there is a moral to this story, namely that it is more important to have beauty in one's equations than to have them fit experiment. If Schrodinger had been more confident of his work, he could have published it some months earlier, and he could have published a more accurate equation. That equation is now known as the Klein-Gordon equation, although it was really discovered by Schrodinger, and in fact was discovered by Schrodinger before he discovered his nonrelativistic treatment of the hydrogen atom. It seems that if one is working from the point of view of getting beauty in one's equations, and if one has really a sound insight, one is on a sure line of progress. If there is not complete agreement between the results of one's work and experiment, one should not allow oneself to be too discouraged, because the discrepancy may well be due to minor features that are not properly taken into account and that will get cleared up with further developments of the theory."

It is quite clear that Dirac is not saying that observational evidence is unimportant. He's saying that minor failures don't necessarily indicate a theory is completely worthless and therefore is probably still worth pursuing. This relates to the Prout Hypothesis cited earlier. Predictive failure from this hypothesis were very small (around 1-2%), meaning that there was actually plenty of evidential support suggesting that while there were clearly unkown issues (we now know what they are - mainly neutrons) throwing off the result, the hypothesis was on the right track.

This sort of quoting,  known as quote-mining, is a dishonest method of debate. It is founded on appeals to authority. Let us suppose that LBird is able to find a quote from a great physicist or philosopher, indisputably agreeing with his claims. All that proves is that this authority shared this opinion - if the source doesn't offer any evidence or argumentation against the points already raised on the thread, then there is no more reason to believe that person than LBird.

Arguments from authority can be legitimate, but even at their best, they are inductive. Even if all the necessary premises of an argument from authority are in place (they are true experts, speaking in their area of expertise, represent a consensus of opinion in that area, and offer cogent arguments and evidence in support of their arguments) this still doesn't mean that the conclusion (i.e. the proposition is right) is true! After all, the Pope (an expert on religion, representing a consensus of opinion on the subject in his area, etc.) says God exists!

Given that LBird - in some sense quite rightly - wants to break the unthinking deference given to so-called experts, it is contradictory to try and use them in that way to bolster his arguments. It is equally contradictory to claim evidentiary falsification isn't important ... and then to try and provide evidence (e.g. Prout's Hypothesis) to falsify my position!

There are perfectly legitimate reasons to quote from other thinkers, of course. This is especially the case when there has been a dispute about what the thinker's positions are. The reason I have quoted from Pannekoek, Einstein, etc. is because LBird frequently refers to them. It may also be relevant if a thinker simply says something better than you can. Or because modesty encourages you to show where you got your ideas from.

On SN1054, it is too strong a claim to say that the Europeans didn't see the event. They didn't record it - although there is a minority view that disputes this, an example of which is here - and that is a somewhat different claim. Given the social instability in Europe, particularly religious instability, it is possible that this explains the lack of clear recording. Other supernovas were recorded in Western records. If it is claimed there was some cultural barrier to even seeing these events, then explanation needs to be offered as to why this supposed barrier operated for some events and not others.

But it is important to note that I am not claiming that observation is unproblematic. See post #162. Even leaving that aside, LBird is right, if all he is claiming that ideology can skew our understanding of various experiences. After all, thousands of people have profound religious experiences every day. Unless they are all lying - and I don't think they are because I have personally had religious experiences - there is clearly something happening. But scientific method is not about taking experience at face-value, as LBird seems to think it is.

Which brings us back to SN1054. Leaving aside the thorny problem of why it wasn't recorded when other, similar celestial events were, it is more than possible that the religious authorities at the time simply considered such events as unimportant. It is certainly possible that this was for cultural reasons.

But there is a difference between accepting that observations do not offer self-evident explanations (otherwise, why would we need "creative mental activity" to understand them?), or that ideology can influence perception, and the idea that theory trumping observation is part of the structural logic of the scientific method. LBird's SN1054 example shows - at best - that a dogmatic approach can deceive people into misunderstanding the significance or implications of phenomena. I don't think there would be any dispute about this - to do so would ignore Marx's (and especially Engels') comments about ideology. The point here, though, is that when these distortions influence observational results this is a failure of scientific method. It the abandoment of science for dogmatism. It is not part of the logical structure of science.

To be completely clear, though, there are times when scientists do "discount" variations in observation. The gravitational force of Earth is 9.8 metres per second, squared (I can't do the notation properly in this media). That means, according to Newton, an object in freefall will increase its speed by 9.8 metres per second, every second. Knowing this, you can calculate how long it will take for an object to fall from a designated height. It's a common experiment to illustrate the operations of the law in high school physics.

The calculations hardly ever match with the prediction 100% though. Why? Because the object encounters atmospheric resistance. The spinning of the Earth also has a small effect. And there are also countless, minor variations in the Earth's gravitational field depending on where exactly you are. It is the exploration of all these "disturbing influences" that feeds into aeronatautics, geophysics and countless other fields of enquiry. In spite of these minor variations, Newtons Laws are still the foundation for classical mechanics and are practically applied to things like rocket design.

Again, if this is all LBird is saying, then I don't have a problem with it. But then we get bizarre claims about workers councils "voting" to change the laws of physics. Does this mean simply developing better explanations of phenomena (e.g. abandoning ether theory for electromagnetism) and using that better understanding to achieve new things? If he does mean this,  then I consider this unproblematic in principle (and it already happens anyway).

But - and it's impossible to be sure, because he refuses to clarify - LBird seems to be saying something more profound. That, through some unknown mechanism, a workers' council can somehow alter the basic behaviour of the natural world, as they see fit. Again, I've asked for a precise analysis of how this might work, but get nothing but vague allusions to how we "create" the laws of physics (and we do, in the sense of creating the ideas, that's not the same as creating the physical behaviour!).

I can only conclude that LBird sees the communist future a little like this. If we ever have problems with a celestial body heading towards the Earth, and its too heavy to deflect its course, we can just change the gravitational constant of the universe!

LBird
The difference between the physics of classes

Demo, thanks for the acknowledgement that you can see some merit in what I'm arguing, even if either you don't entirely agree with me or don't fully understand what I'm saying.

I can sum up our political differences (which are at the base of all the others) quite succinctly.

Either we 'create' our world, and so can 'change' it, and in a Democratic society like Communism, those 'changes' have to be decided democratically...

...or, an elite 'create' our world, and pretend that they don't, and they say they are merely 'observing', 'interpreting', 'contemplating', 'reporting', 'describing', 'discovering' REALITY ITSELF.

Marx says 'we create'; Pannekoek says 'we create', even the ICC article writes that Rovelli says 'we create'.

For Marx, it's 'our object'; for Pannekoek, it's 'our laws of nature'; for Rovelli it's 'our time and space'.

The bourgeoisie disagree, and want to deflect attention from the creative powers of humanity, and focus on 'out there'.

I think that you are making the political mistake of siding with the ruling class, although your ideology tells you that you're simply 'protecting objective science from the lunatics'.

You will defend 'matter', 'external reality', 'out there', 'the objective world' against the democratic proletariat, who must change their world.

baboon
Just to repeat, from my own

Just to repeat, from my own experience and observation, that it is a waste of time directly engaging L. Bird in any sort of discussion. He doesn't want to discuss and has no idea of a culture of debate because his aim is to trump, to beat his opponents (i.e. everyone who disagrees with him).

For someone who puts doubt at the centre of his world, L. Bird doubts nothing. In fact he is absolutely certain about everything and what he's not certain about will be clarified by - in his favour no doubt - by a vote held by the world's proletariat on a particular day. Let's not go into the question of if they are wrong. You cannot discuss with this sort of nonsense.

If L. Bird does make a valid point it seems to me to be in terms of the stopped 24h clock twice a day.

Einstein is not and never has been a marxist as L. Bird says he is. Nor has Rovelli. That just leaves Marx and L. Bird. It has a ring to it; hollow to the core.

LBird
Staggering ignorance of politics

baboon wrote:

Just to repeat, from my own experience and observation, that it is a waste of time directly engaging L. Bird in any sort of discussion. He doesn't want to discuss and has no idea of a culture of debate because his aim is to trump, to beat his opponents (i.e. everyone who disagrees with him).

For someone who puts doubt at the centre of his world, L. Bird doubts nothing. In fact he is absolutely certain about everything and what he's not certain about will be clarified by - in his favour no doubt - by a vote held by the world's proletariat on a particular day. Let's not go into the question of if they are wrong. You cannot discuss with this sort of nonsense.

If L. Bird does make a valid point it seems to me to be in terms of the stopped 24h clock twice a day.

Einstein is not and never has been a marxist as L. Bird says he is. Nor has Rovelli. That just leaves Marx and L. Bird. It has a ring to it; hollow to the core.

It's a shame you seem to know nothing about politics, baboon.

Never mind then, the politics of philosophy, or even later, the politics of physics.

Your response is simply childish, blaming me for insisting upon a discussion about the democratic control of production by workers, whilst you apparently wish to discuss 'rocks and mud' as they are.

The 'fruits' of Engels' Materialism: ignore workers, and discuss 'matter'.

lem_
Critique ?

Quote:
it is a waste of time directly engaging L. Bird in any sort of discussion. He doesn't want to discuss and has no idea of a culture of debate

I tend to agree. He has this skill of ignoring anything that threatens his 'theory' while affecting patience and engagement.

LBird
Disagreement with ICC's 'science policy'?

I thought that I'd comment on a point made by the ICC in their article:

ICC article wrote:
It's...[not] the role of a revolutionary organisation as the ICC to validate or invalidate a hypothesis during the course of a debate in the scientific world.

I think that this seriously underestimates both the role and the potential capabilities of workers coming to consciousness. That is, of both organised Communists like the ICC and interested workers not yet organised.

The 'scientific world' is our world, and often class conscious workers know more about 'physics' than do 'physicists'. That's because, whilst not being versed in arcane maths, the method of Marx is a model for the socio-political activity of physics.

And since 'maths' is a socio-historical product (and not the mythical 'language of nature'), it also can be made comprehensible to all.

In the prewar period, many Communist scientists thought that science could be made available to all, and so any 'debates about hypotheses of science' should be discussed and validated by the whole society that is to be subjected to this 'science'

To me, this is no different to saying that the academic Dr. Mengele shouldn't be the one to decide on his 'science', its methods, experiments or results.

The tone of the article suggests that 'debate in the scientific world' should be kept separate from our politics. On this, I disagree with the ICC.

lem_
It's a nice idea to say that

It's a nice idea to say that we can veto any "facts" we don't like. But this by definition is to not live in reality.

LBird
Self-producing 'facts'? Or a 'real' social product?

lem_ wrote:

It's a nice idea to say that we can veto any "facts" we don't like. But this by definition is to not live in reality.

Against my better judgement, but here goes...

Hello,lem_! Can you tell me, firstly, 'who' or 'what' provides you with 'facts', and, secondly, 'how' they do this?

lem_
which facts?

Hello LBird, can you answer my questions first please?

Quote:
By definition a "fact" is whatever won't turn out to be untrue 

 

  • If you agree that whatever will turn out to be untrue is untrue now (as per the title)then it seems that what is true now won't turn out to be untrue

Which just means that everything true now is a fact..

the facts about what?

LBird
It's like a kid's game

lem_ wrote:

Hello LBird, can you answer my questions first please?

Quote:
By definition a "fact" is whatever won't turn out to be untrue 

 

  • If you agree that whatever will turn out to be untrue is untrue now (as per the title)then it seems that what is true now won't turn out to be untrue

Which just means that everything true now is a fact..

the facts about what?

Anything you like, lem_.

A 'rock', if you wish your 'fact' to be something supposedly 'simple and material', or a 'commodity', if you wish your 'fact' to be something 'complex and non-material'.

You choose your 'fact'.

lem_
What was that ?

I get the facts about my phone apps thru google.

The facts about the material commodifty form via reading and thinking.

The facts about who threw that rock by looking around.

The facts about its chemical make-up via reading peer reviewed science (if I cared to).

 

Well done for sidestepping the argument, again.

lem_
Quote:By definition a

Quote:
By definition a "fact" is whatever won't turn out to be untrue 
  • If you agree that whatever will turn out to be untrue is untrue now (as per the title)then it seems that what is true now won't turn out to be untrue

Which just means that everything true now is a fact..

I don't see what is proletarian about a referendum against quantum gravity. Maybe in the most romantic-idealist terms you have a point, but you cannot prove it is anything but a lazy obsession of yours

One which you're also bothering the SPGB about? You're making a joke

LBird
Sidestepping the whole meaning of the thread

lem_ wrote:

I get the facts about my phone apps thru google.

The facts about the material commodifty form via reading and thinking.

The facts about who threw that rock by looking around.

The facts about its chemical make-up via reading peer reviewed science (if I cared to).

 

Well done for sidestepping the argument, again.

lem_, we're trying to discuss the philosophy of science on this thread.

If you're not interested in that, why participate?

Why ask about 'fact' and 'truth', if you're not interested in discussing epistemology and ontology?

LBird
Ideologically blind

lem_ wrote:

Quote:
By definition a "fact" is whatever won't turn out to be untrue 
  • If you agree that whatever will turn out to be untrue is untrue now (as per the title)then it seems that what is true now won't turn out to be untrue

Which just means that everything true now is a fact..

I don't see what is proletarian about a referendum against quantum gravity. Maybe in the most romantic-idealist terms you have a point, but you cannot prove it is anything but a lazy obsession of yours

One which you're also bothering the SPGB about? You're making a joke

"I don't see..."

Quite.

lem_
I've tried to argue with you

It is not really acceptable, IMHO, to keep lying about someone being "bourgeois". 

Whatever... you have no argument, and so, no point at all

lem_
he has rise

Hail Jesus, he had risen.

Quote:
we're trying to discuss the philosophy of science on this thread

let me know when you start!

You asked what facts are, I enumerated some facts and how I work out what I believe about them. To then complain that they aren't all scientific ones, despite not asking only for scientific facts, is slippery at best. If you find something irrelevant to your argument, can't work out why I said it, then why not ignore that part of the reply?

To claim that the burden of proof is on anyone who disagrees with you, merely (as it seems you do) on the basis that you are being more "democratic", is confused IMHO. Marxism is not, first and foremost, a theory or philosophy of democracy. It is about capitalism and how to overturn it: so the HUGELY counter-intuitive claim that there's no facts to either, or indeed even the structure of the world, is (even if consistent) not about to make anyone bourgeois and isn't a given... fact?

Not to mention that  your arguments aren't convincing and you just ignore anything which threatens them.

LBird
Marxism is first and foremost about workers' democracy

lem_ wrote:

Marxism is not, first and foremost, a theory or philosophy of democracy.

And that's why you're not a Marxist or a Communist, lem_.

Marx stressed workers' democracy, because without it, an elite would rule.

Communism and democracy are interchangable; neither can exist without the other.

I suspect you're a 19th century philosophical materialist, with a politics and a physics to match.

But you're ignorant of this, and will remain so, if this exchange is anything to go by.

lem_
pathetic slurs from a typical bourgeois fantasist

Quote:
And that's why you're not a Marxist or a Communist, lem_.

and you are a sad fantasist lol

Quote:
Marxism is first and foremost about workers' democracy

nah it's a means of overthrowing capitalism, via worker's democarcy. the latter is essential but not_the_goal.

in this sense it's not "about" worker's democracy. do you bother asking me what i think? no, being an ignorant fantasist, you make the wild and pathetic claim that because i don't share your fantasist views i don't support "workers democracy", which is just not true

go vote away your existence on your own somewhere else

 

lem_
angry

You should stop lying about other people you disgusting piece of fantasist shit

lem_
LBird is very confused

Quote:
it's a means of overthrowing capitalism, via worker's democarcy. the latter is essential but not_the_goal.

i will repeat this till i'm blue in the face.

you're no marxist or communist, LBIrd, every one of your arguments belongs to radical democrat who has  confused themselves about 'science' 

Quote:
Communism and democracy are interchangable; neither can exist without the other.
how is that even remotely true?

if "workers demoaracy" cannot exist without communism, then it cannot exist without the complete overthrow of international capitalism. which means that the revolution isn't democratic until its a success!

and as well as abolishing the role of the working class in the revolution, you're arguing that your so called "workers power" can be created without anyone having any idea what's wrong with capitalism or what they are voting for!

LBird
Will there always be an elite, to decide for workers?

lem_ wrote:

... you disgusting piece of fantasist shit

And you're an ignorant dickhead, lem_, with the reasoning capacity of a piece of lettuce.

We can all do insults, halfwit.

But it gets us no nearer the answer to the question, that I posed earlier, about the ICC's 'science policy' and its relation to workers' power.

Can an elite 'know' what organised workers can't? Whether we call that elite, 'expert physicists', 'academic mathematicians', or 'cadre party'?

Can't we vote on 'truth', or is 'truth' simply 'out there', waiting to be passively discovered?

lem_
nice try, but you started the insults

ignoring the argument again LBIrd.

Quote:
go vote away your existence on your own somewhere else
lem_
i detest you

Quote:
if "workers demoaracy" cannot exist without communism, then it cannot exist without the complete overthrow of international capitalism. which means that the revolution isn't democratic until its a success!

and as well as abolishing the role of the working class in the revolution, you're arguing that your so called "workers power" can be created without anyone having any idea what's wrong with capitalism or what they are voting for!

Quote:
halfwit

Everyone who uses and reads this site knows that's you

lem_
I am willing to apologise IFF

you apologise for misrepresenting my views so you can call me bourgeois etc.

until then, you have e.g. these objections to answer to

Quote:
if "workers demoaracy" cannot exist without communism, then it cannot exist without the complete overthrow of international capitalism. which means that the revolution isn't democratic until its a success!

and as well as abolishing the role of the working class in the revolution, you're arguing that your so called "workers power" can be created without anyone having any idea what's wrong with capitalism or what they are voting for!

i.e. marxism is not first and foremost about a means without a goal.

Quote:
By definition a "fact" is whatever won't turn out to be untrue 
  • If you agree that whatever will turn out to be untrue is untrue now (as per the title)then it seems that what is true now won't turn out to be untrue

Which just means that everything true now is a fact..

paying a perverse lip service to democracy doesn't mean everything you say is true.

EDIT oh we all know you won't bother replying to an argument, as it threatens your ability to slur other people you're talking with. in which case

Quote:
go vote away your existence on your own somewhere else

EDIT imo marxism is first and foremost a critique of capitalism. this does not preclude the necessity of worker's democracy, it entails it.

the idea that workers can change the actual laws and makeup of the physical world by casting a vote, is just absurd.

i mean it'd be nice, don't get me wrong. but like i said, you won't get anywhere if you just ignore every fact.

Pages