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Author Topic: Science vs. Natural Philosophy  (Read 470 times)
MoQingbird
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« on: 24/01/11 @ 16:14 »

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_philosophy

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Natural philosophy or the philosophy of nature (from Latin philosophia naturalis), is a term applied to the study of nature and the physical universe that was dominant before the development of modern science. It is considered to be the precursor of natural sciences such as physics.

Once upon a time, the study of nature was considered the preserve of philosophers.  Nowadays, we call people who study nature scientists.

What distinguishes a philosopher from a scientist?
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The Philosophizer
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« Reply #1 on: 08/05/11 @ 20:07 »

Certainly the methods of evaluation are different. There is a big difference between a thought experiment and an experiment that we conduct upon some physical entity.

Scientist also tend to describe the way that the world is and why it is this way but philosophers are concerned about the implications for humans given the way that the world is. Philosophers are also concerned about defining what is possible or impossible, what is logically sound or not.

Its not so much scientist that are being commended, its engineers, doctors and technicians, those that apply the science, they are the ones who conduct science that people are interested in.

Is Einstein a scientist? Is Newton a scientist? Is Hawking a scientist? These men took scientific observations and made theories from them about the universe and what is possible and impossible in such a place. Though they may be considered  scientists its NOT DOING science that they are famous for.

Why then are philosophers overlooked? Its a name game. The people I mentioned above are famous for doing philosophy not for conducting science. Its strange really, If a coal miner thought of sting theory then does that make them an amazing coal miner? It sounds like philosophy to me. It may be appropriate to point out that science is a field of philosophy but it rarely ever conducts a philosophical ivestigation. None the less, whenever they do, its science that gets the praise and not philosophy in general. This would be ok but people dont really know about how science is related to philosophy if they know they are related at all.
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MoQingbird
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« Reply #2 on: 09/05/11 @ 15:39 »

Einstein formulated special relativity as a series of thought experiments in elevators, IIRC.  These were later confirmed by experiment.

General relativity appeared to spring out of his mind, fully formed, from nowhere, and that's why he is regarded as a genius.  Sean Carroll, though, says that while he was employed as a patent office clerk he was analyzing patents for clocks and for mapping technologies.  I imagine that spacetime came out of the cross-fertilization of these two domains.  Once again, though, he had an untested hypothesis that was later verified.

Today, cosmologists are wrestling with strings, 'branes, holographic universes and all manner of things that they can't test.  To me, this is a bona fide role for philosophy.  It is, if you like, a kind of 'what if...' thinking process that proceeds in advance of the experimentalists, and I cannot imagine a philosopher from the past who wouldn't have been delighted to have his theory 'proved' by empirical studies. The reason Einstein, Newton and Hawking are so renowned is that there philosophies were verified by reality, while other philosophers languish in obscurity because their philosophies have no such contact with reality.  Socrates, Plato and Aristotle dealt with human issues such as, what is virtue, but Hegel, Heidegger and Husserl are operating in such rarified heights that they have no connection to either reality or us mortals.

IMO  : )
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