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Author Topic: Is science a mechanism for explaining reality?  (Read 2404 times)

Offline quasimodo

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Is science a mechanism for explaining reality?
« on: 17/06/2016 17:23:30 »
A basic overview consisting of interpretation over assumption and a more detailed one consisting of evidence gained from observation substantiated by using comparison.
« Last Edit: 27/06/2016 12:34:17 by quasimodo »


 

Offline kasparovitch

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Re: Is science a mechanism for explaining reality?
« Reply #1 on: 20/06/2016 22:53:48 »
You ask a nice question and then offer an analysis that is also nice but it's ambiguous in that one doesn't know if you're asking or affirming something.

I liked yours analysis and would invite you to expand it.

Also, after that you'd perhaps place your question in more concrete terms.
 

Offline IAMREALITY

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Re: Is science a mechanism for explaining reality?
« Reply #2 on: 21/06/2016 20:13:27 »
Anything that leads to an objectively accurate interpretation of reality is a mechanism for explaining it.  Science, Math, Logic and Wisdom all fall into that category.
 

Offline quasimodo

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Re: Is science a mechanism for explaining reality?
« Reply #3 on: 22/06/2016 22:17:45 »
Is there a scientific explanation of what reality is?
 

Offline quasimodo

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Re: Is science a mechanism for explaining reality?
« Reply #4 on: 23/06/2016 20:23:58 »
If it is of interest to anyone and for the sake of comparison, this is my own current understanding on the subject:
The scientific concept of reality is formed from many individual concepts. That is to say an accumulation of individual theories that are proven and aknowledged to the point of being considered as reality and adapted to current events.
 

Offline kasparovitch

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Re: Is science a mechanism for explaining reality?
« Reply #5 on: 23/06/2016 21:29:25 »
If it is of interest to anyone and for the sake of comparison, this is my own current understanding on the subject:
The scientific concept of reality is formed from many individual concepts. That is to say an accumulation of individual theories that are proven and aknowledged to the point of being considered as reality and adapted to current events.

That's correct. Every scientific evidence is based on more evidence, which is based in more evidence, making a never-ending chain.

That's called infinite regress.

According to Descartes the only truth that doesn't need evidence to support it is the cogito [ergo sum].

For Max Tegmark, a dichotomy between mathematics and physics exists since Plato and Aristotle.

According to the Aristotelian paradigm, physical reality is fundamental and mathematics is merely an aproximation to it.

The Platonic paradigm tells that mathematics is the true reality and observers perceive it imperfectly.

This dichotomy is unsettled so far.

Mathematics itself is based on axioms, which are by definition indemonstrable and only mustn't be inconsistent, and no one knows if real numbers exist de facto, for example.

No one even knows if those axioms would be true in an hypothetical parallel universe.

In Paul Davie's opinion, to avoid the infinite regress, something must be accepted on faith in the last instance, even in scientific accounts.

These are philosophical questions. Safe and reliable airplanes keep being manufactured.
« Last Edit: 23/06/2016 23:25:18 by kasparovitch »
 

Offline quasimodo

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Re: Is science a mechanism for explaining reality?
« Reply #6 on: 24/06/2016 02:53:11 »
If it is of interest to anyone and for the sake of comparison, this is my own current understanding on the subject:
The scientific concept of reality is formed from many individual concepts. That is to say an accumulation of individual theories that are proven and aknowledged to the point of being considered as reality and adapted to current events.

That's correct. Every scientific evidence is based on more evidence, which is based in more evidence, making a never-ending chain.

That's called infinite regress.

According to Descartes the only truth that doesn't need evidence to support it is the cogito [ergo sum].

For Max Tegmark, a dichotomy between mathematics and physics exists since Plato and Aristotle.

According to the Aristotelian paradigm, physical reality is fundamental and mathematics is merely an aproximation to it.

The Platonic paradigm tells that mathematics is the true reality and observers perceive it imperfectly.

This dichotomy is unsettled so far.

Mathematics itself is based on axioms, which are by definition indemonstrable and only mustn't be inconsistent, and no one knows if real numbers exist de facto, for example.

No one even knows if those axioms would be true in an hypothetical parallel universe.

In Paul Davie's opinion, to avoid the infinite regress, something must be accepted on faith in the last instance, even in scientific accounts.

These are philosophical questions. Safe and reliable airplanes keep being manufactured.

Many thanks
 

Offline puppypower

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Re: Is science a mechanism for explaining reality?
« Reply #7 on: 25/06/2016 12:03:30 »
The observations of science, from which we infer reality, are only as good as the tools. For example, before the invention of the telescope, the only tools science had for observation of space, were our eyes. This means they could not see many of the observations in space we take for granted. Without these observations, the hard data curve would suggest a different reality. 

Theories of the past were state of the art, in their day, based on the available data, which was limited by its tools. Modern scientists may laugh at the earth centric theories of yesterday,  just like the future may wonder what we were thinking, if they fail to correlate the state of the art, with what could be observed and plotted as hard data.

Each generation would like to believe they have the final truth, since their theory corresponds to what they can see with their best tools.  But if this was the final truth, the engineers would stop trying to make better tools, since these would not be needed. The engineers understand the difference between practical reality versus ideal reality. Practical reality is limited by the state of the art, while ideal reality is when science becomes obsolete and scientists become only teachers.

An interesting mental experiment is too simulate the past by trying to explain the universe using only data you can collect and verify with the eyes. The man on the moon starts to make more sense, since others may be able to see that. Next, add a weak telescope and see how reality changes. It is not so much the ancients were ignorant, but they were being consistent with the philosophy of science; observational verification limited by their tools. If they had modern math, math could have been used to model the man on the moon.

Since tools limit what we see, and therefore set the stage for defining practical reality, what would happen if science decided, we will only use a given set of tools. This would stack the deck in terms of defining practical reality, based on the limitations of those tool. One example of this is in biology and the bio-sciences. Statistics is a very prominent tool in the life sciences. This is not a physical tool, but a mental tools which causes the mind to view life processes, based on random events and averages.

This seems reasonable since is still used today. However, over 50 years ago it was observed with advanced microscope tools, that proteins fold with exact folds with probability equals to 1.0. This meant that statistics did not apply as universally as the old tools seem to suggest. The old tool made the eyes see a certain way, which was not even real for most of the cell's structures.

The old classical tools of statistics should have been dumped, 50 years ago, but science circled the wagon and these tools were retained, causing the practical reality of the living state to remain retro. It would be like the Hubble telescope having been invented, however, it was decided we are only allowed to use earth based telescopes. Earth based telescopes could still improve and add new data, but these may not add anything, revolutionary, where new theory seems more necessary.

Galileo sort of faced this problem in his day, in that he showed new data with his new telescope tool. An effort was made, by the status quo, to ignore his the data offered by his new tool, so only the data from only the old tools would remain supreme, allowing the status quo not to change. But once people looked through the telescope, new data begins to build and a new practical reality starts to appear, which is though to be the new final truth. At least until the engineers made even better tools. 
 

Offline jeffreyH

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Re: Is science a mechanism for explaining reality?
« Reply #8 on: 25/06/2016 12:17:17 »
Mathematics can only ever approximate physical processes. Absolute accuracy in all circumstances is impossible. That is why we have scientific notation and note margins of error. Why there should be a need for mathematics to accurately describe reality is enigmatic. Like Zeno's paradox it causes phantom issues for philosophers to debate.
 

Offline kasparovitch

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Re: Is science a mechanism for explaining reality?
« Reply #9 on: 25/06/2016 13:38:39 »
To Puppypower:

Even though ancient people had limited tools, scientist don't have much to laugh at them.

Democritus, by observing lyophilized wine mixing slowly in water postulated that matter consisted of small particles surrounded by enormous empty spaces he called atoms.

Also, he said that nothing can be created from nothing and that nothing can result from something however destroyed it is.

Aristarchus of Samos concluded that the Earth rotated every 24 hours around its axis and described a circular orbit around the Sun lasting one year.

Observation doesn't explain all scientific knowledge and Logical Positivism is now abandoned. No one ever saw an electron to the best of my knowledge or the Big Bang for sure.

« Last Edit: 25/06/2016 15:53:50 by kasparovitch »
 
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Offline Alan McDougall

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Re: Is science a mechanism for explaining reality?
« Reply #10 on: 25/06/2016 16:55:31 »
To Puppypower:

Even though ancient people had limited tools, scientist don't have much to laugh at them.

Democritus, by observing lyophilized wine mixing slowly in water postulated that matter consisted of small particles surrounded by enormous empty spaces he called atoms.

Also, he said that nothing can be created from nothing and that nothing can result from something however destroyed it is.

Aristarchus of Samos concluded that the Earth rotated every 24 hours around its axis and described a circular orbit around the Sun lasting one year.

Observation doesn't explain all scientific knowledge and Logical Positivism is now abandoned. No one ever saw an electron to the best of my knowledge or the Big Bang for sure.



You are right ancient people were just as intelligent as any modern person, indeed that the were not, an indisputable fallacy!

Democritus was the first thinker that postulated that matter could not be infinite divided and there should be an ultimate thing that was indivisible, this was called the "Atom. "However, he had difficulty with this then theory, that if these smallest things were separate from each other, there must be an empty space or nothingness  between them. Early scientist were really scared of the concept of nothingness and this led to his 'Atoms not receiving the credit due to them back then.

Alan
« Last Edit: 25/06/2016 16:58:47 by Alan McDougall »
 

Offline Alan McDougall

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Re: Is science a mechanism for explaining reality?
« Reply #11 on: 25/06/2016 17:03:19 »
If it is of interest to anyone and for the sake of comparison, this is my own current understanding on the subject:
The scientific concept of reality is formed from many individual concepts. That is to say an accumulation of individual theories that are proven and aknowledged to the point of being considered as reality and adapted to current events.

That's correct. Every scientific evidence is based on more evidence, which is based in more evidence, making a never-ending chain.

That's called infinite regress.

According to Descartes the only truth that doesn't need evidence to support it is the cogito [ergo sum].

For Max Tegmark, a dichotomy between mathematics and physics exists since Plato and Aristotle.

According to the Aristotelian paradigm, physical reality is fundamental and mathematics is merely an aproximation to it.

The Platonic paradigm tells that mathematics is the true reality and observers perceive it imperfectly.

This dichotomy is unsettled so far.

Mathematics itself is based on axioms, which are by definition indemonstrable and only mustn't be inconsistent, and no one knows if real numbers exist de facto, for example.

No one even knows if those axioms would be true in an hypothetical parallel universe.

In Paul Davie's opinion, to avoid the infinite regress, something must be accepted on faith in the last instance, even in scientific accounts.

These are philosophical questions. Safe and reliable airplanes keep being manufactured.

The great theoretical physicist/mathematician, Paul Dirac once quoted " I see God in the beauty of his mathematics"  (Not all scientists are atheists!)
 

Offline Alan McDougall

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Re: Is science a mechanism for explaining reality?
« Reply #12 on: 25/06/2016 17:09:24 »
To Puppypower:

Even though ancient people had limited tools, scientist don't have much to laugh at them.

Democritus, by observing lyophilized wine mixing slowly in water postulated that matter consisted of small particles surrounded by enormous empty spaces he called atoms.

Also, he said that nothing can be created from nothing and that nothing can result from something however destroyed it is.

Aristarchus of Samos concluded that the Earth rotated every 24 hours around its axis and described a circular orbit around the Sun lasting one year.

Observation doesn't explain all scientific knowledge and Logical Positivism is now abandoned. No one ever saw an electron to the best of my knowledge or the Big Bang for sure.


Please take note that I agree with nearly all you say, and did not mean to demean your thread in anyway, I am sorry and I apologise

Your question posed in this thread, is one of the most valid one that anyone can ask!

Best Regards

Alan
 

Offline kasparovitch

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Re: Is science a mechanism for explaining reality?
« Reply #13 on: 25/06/2016 19:02:59 »
The great theoretical physicist/mathematician, Paul Dirac once quoted " I see God in the beauty of his mathematics"  (Not all scientists are atheists!)

I think your quote is very good.

Paul Davies in particular, who is an astrophysicist, states that what can be accepted on faith in the last instance for the ultimate explanation of the universe and its physical laws is one of these:

- God

- Theory of Everything

- Multiverse Theory
 

Offline dlorde

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Re: Is science a mechanism for explaining reality?
« Reply #14 on: 25/06/2016 19:39:08 »
Paul Davies in particular, who is an astrophysicist, states that what can be accepted on faith in the last instance for the ultimate explanation of the universe and its physical laws is one of these:

- God

- Theory of Everything

- Multiverse Theory
As a scientist, could he not just accept that we don't know the explanation? And each of those options would seem to lead to more questions than it answers, so can't be considered an 'ultimate' explanation without unjustifiable special pleading.
 

Offline kasparovitch

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Re: Is science a mechanism for explaining reality?
« Reply #15 on: 25/06/2016 19:58:40 »
Paul Davies in particular, who is an astrophysicist, states that what can be accepted on faith in the last instance for the ultimate explanation of the universe and its physical laws is one of these:

- God

- Theory of Everything

- Multiverse Theory
As a scientist, could he not just accept that we don't know the explanation? And each of those options would seem to lead to more questions than it answers, so can't be considered an 'ultimate' explanation without unjustifiable special pleading.

Indeed, whether that set is a closed or an open one is a matter of discussion. It's not an empty set and populating it is something tremendously difficult. Ignorance is always a good alternative, but perhaps the least palatable of all. You may wish to add some few more candidate ultimate explanations to the set.
« Last Edit: 25/06/2016 23:18:22 by kasparovitch »
 

Offline quasimodo

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Re: Is science a mechanism for explaining reality?
« Reply #16 on: 25/06/2016 20:06:52 »
As a scientist, could he not just accept that we don't know the explanation?
I quite like that, theory of limitation?

did not mean to demean your thread in anyway
you didn't, not to me anyway.

Mathematics can only ever approximate physical processes. Absolute accuracy in all circumstances is impossible. That is why we have scientific notation and note margins of error. Why there should be a need for mathematics to accurately describe reality is enigmatic. Like Zeno's paradox it causes phantom issues for philosophers to debate.
Is it essentialy comprehension through quantification?

Galileo sort of faced this problem in his day, in that he showed new data with his new telescope tool.
I'm probably just being very pedantic and I apologise, but it was hans lippershey who invented the telescope just before galileo, and Roger Bacon about 400 years before him? (I'l admit I googled a bit.)

Even though ancient people had limited tools, scientist don't have much to laugh at them.
I would agree, and would like to add the astronomical achievements of the Mayan civilisation to your list.
 

Offline jerrygg38

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Re: Is science a mechanism for explaining reality?
« Reply #17 on: 14/07/2016 20:28:53 »
Science is limited to things we can see and measure or can be deduced from things we see or measure. Once we leave the physical world and see a possible spiritual worlds or higher worlds, science is of little help. for example we could coexist with higher light speed universes. Our instruments will not be able to detect such things. All we can say is that we live in a light speed C universe and other things are possible. Then we have to rely upon philosophy, religion, logic and reason to try to understand the total reality.
 

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Re: Is science a mechanism for explaining reality?
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