[FRIAM] Philosophy and Science

Frank Wimberly wimberly3 at gmail.com
Fri Jul 14 14:13:01 EDT 2023

>I do suspect that the practice and vocation of philosophy is being altered
in the face of things like the development of Category Theory and now LLMs

One of Joe Ramsey's colleagues, Steve Awodey, is working on a reformulation
of the foundations of mathematics based on category theory.

Frank C. Wimberly
140 Calle Ojo Feliz,
Santa Fe, NM 87505

505 670-9918
Santa Fe, NM

On Fri, Jul 14, 2023, 12:03 PM Steve Smith <sasmyth at swcp.com> wrote:

> I like the term "epistemic trespass" and generally agree with the idea
> glen promotes in that regard.
> My direct experience with *many* experimentalists trained and
> self-selected as physicists or chemists or materials scientists was that
> many of them were excellent engineers, computer systems developers,
> programmers, even mech/elec/hydro/pneumo-techs...   but *mainly* because
> those skills/disciplines were in directs support of what they were trying
> to do and it was a useful shortcut/leverage to be able to do all those
> things for themselves rather than wait for the availability of specialists
> in those areas and then communicate their needs.   Only a *few* theorists
> seemed to have these skills because, perhaps they rarely *needed* that kind
> of support, though some had avocations or hobbies that exercised those
> skills.  I would hazard that more of the theoreticians were more deeply
> interested in the mathematics and philosophical embeddings that their
> avowed day-work implied.  The experimentalists *might* be interested
> (and/or facile) in those things but to some extent by constitution,
> self-selection, utilitarianism were less engaged.
> I am glad that Tyson is out there "spreading the faith" to some extent,
> but it doesn't surprise me that he might give philosophers the brush-back
> unthoughtfully.   I feel like Sabine  Hossenfelder, in her very subtle
> style may have done the same thing but with a straight face rather than a
> big grin, even though much of her science-communication is smack dab in the
> middle (IMO) of these epistimic boundaries which is where (IMO) the best
> stuff resides.   I was recently put off by Paul Hawkin's need to
> deprecate/dismiss any talk (or thought?) about consciousness in deference
> to the presumably more formally defineable "intelligence", but I also
> understand that one good way to make progress on technical things is to
> downscope until your reach does not exceed your grasp (by much) and
> Hawkin's experience as a tech entreprenuer (Palm Pilot) suggests that he is
> more better served by staying closer to the engineering and tech end of the
> (multi-dimensional?) spectrum than the philosophical one.   I also
> understand that as one moves out into the yet-more-abstract of philosophy
> and mathematics and semiotics (for example) they seem more likely to be
> laced with BS (and perhaps often are?)... but that ambiguity/difficulty is
> part of what makes it worth spending time in (IMO again).
> Not only do we not like our various sacred-cows skewered by others we
> don't even like them being called by unfamiliar names, until you realize
> those names *might* be "terms of endearment"?
> I am not familiar with Hawking or Mlodinow's assertions but it triggers my
> associative memory to Russell and Whitehead's  (and others) assertions
> around* Principia Mathematica*.  Or the (yet more) classic* "God is Dead*
> - Neitchze 1882 V. *Neitchze is dead* - God 1900".    I do suspect that
> the practice and vocation of philosophy is being altered in the face of
> things like the development of Category Theory and now LLMs ...  in the
> common CS vernacular, *it is not deprecated but is being refactored*?
> On 7/14/23 11:02 AM, glen wrote:
> This merely seems like triggered gatekeeping to me. Yeah, sure, working
> philosophers have skills and behaviors working [insert your favorite other
> clique] don't have. But, if it's not already obvious, especially to anyone
> who's had ANY contact with organizations like the SFI, epistemic
> trespassing can be wildly productive. We're all bad at things we're not
> good at. >8^D I haven't seen the Tyson rant that seems to have triggered
> Ramsey. But *leaving someone out* of your cf list is NOT a snub ... despite
> what the hip-and-trendy might claim. It's merely evidence that any
> presentation is limited in space and time. My guess is that if you listen
> to Tyson with a little generosity, you'd hear him make sounds sympathetic
> to the expertise of the peri-science cliques.
> Now, Hawking and Mlodinow's explicit claim that philosophy is dead ...
> now, that's a different story.
> On 7/14/23 08:33, Frank Wimberly wrote:
> Joe Ramsey, who took over my job.in <http://job.in> <http://job.in> the
> Philosophy Department at Carnegie Mellon, posted the following on Facebook:
> I like Neil DeGrasse Tyson a lot, but I saw him give a spirited defense of
> science in which he oddly gave no credit to philosophers at all. His straw
> man philosopher is a dedicated *armchair* philosopher who spins theories
> without paying attention to scientific practice and contributes nothing to
> scientific understanding. He misses that scientists themselves are
> constantly raising obviously philosophical questions and are often
> ill-equipped to think about them clearly. What is the correct
> interpretation of quantum mechanics? What is the right way to think about
> reductionism? Is reductionism the right way to think about science? What is
> the nature of consciousness? Can you explain consciousness in terms of
> neuroscience? Are biological kinds real? What does it even mean to be real?
> Or is realism a red herring; should we be pragmatists instead? Scientists
> raise all kinds of philosophical questions and have ill-informed opinions
> about them. But *philosophers* try to answer them, and scientists do pay
> attention to the controversies. At least the smart ones do.
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