An Example of Science’s Failure at Philosophy


… Stephen Hawking goes wrong when, at the very beginning of his best-seller The Grand Design, he triumphantly proclaims that “philosophy is dead.”  With the latest advances in quantum physics and cosmology (M-theory), he claims, so-called experimental metaphysics has reached its apogee. Upon a closer look, of course, we soon discover that we are not quite there yet Furthermore, it would be easy to reject this claim by demonstrating the continuing pertinence of philosophy for Hawking himself (not to mention the fact that his own book is definitely not science, but a very problematic popular generalization): Hawking relies on a series of methodological and ontological presuppositions which he takes for granted. Only two pages after making the claim that philosophy is dead, he describes his own approach as “model-dependent realism,” based on “the idea that our brains interpret the input from our sensory organs by making a model of the world. When such a model is successful at explaining events, we tend to attribute to it … the quality of reality”; however, “if two models (or theories) accurately predict the same events, one cannot be said to be more real than the other; rather, we are free to use whichever model is most convenient.” 5 If ever there was a philosophical (epistemological) position, this is one (and a rather vulgar one at that). Not to mention the further fact that this “model-dependent realism” is simply too weak to do the job assigned to it by Hawking, that of providing the epistemological frame for interpreting the well-known paradoxes of quantum physics, their incompatibility with common-sense ontology. However, in spite of all these problematic features, we should admit that quantum physics and cosmology do have philosophical implications, and that they do confront philosophy with a challenge. 
 
Zizek, Slavoj (2012-04-30). Less Than Nothing: Hegel and the Shadow of Dialectical Materialism (pp. 911-912). Norton. Kindle Edition.
 
Aside from Hawking’s reliance (or over-reliance) on a naive philosophy, the very title of his book underlines the theological background that haunts science, and cosmology in particular.  Referring to reality as a whole, or any theory of such, as “Design” is almost laughably naive for someone who claims to have not only expunged theology, but all of metaphysics from his thinking.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s