Saturday, January 02, 2010
Phenomenology Has us know just How, Why or both?
So with this other blog addresing phenomenology and its role in scientific discovery, it had me to become mindful of a paper I read of J.S. Bell some time ago, entitled ‘How to teach special relativity’, where he reviews the route taken by Lorentz, Poincare and Fitzgerald in their efforts to explain the phenomenology presented in the Michelson–Morley experiments as they relate to what Maxwell’s theory of Electromagnet dynamics left as unanswered. What I find this paper so apply does is to show that while such examination may not lead one to the realization that Einstein came to, in having such things encompassed by a principle synopsised as two characters of nature, it does show however by simply attempting to explain the phenomena in terms of its actions, can have one arrive at a place that predicatively accounts for such never the less.
After reading this paper the thing that most stood out for me was it forced one to ask which of the two routes stands as being the better in terms as representing what science is. With the Lorentz, Poincare and Fitzgerald approach all the actions of nature are described as a series of recipes, if you will, where a fixed reference frame is still considered as real although undetectable, while for Einstein this nondelectability has it become so irrelevant that it was to be denied. However, from the practical standpoint in terms of being able to make predictions about nature in its demonstrated action the two are indistinguishable. So this further has one come to ask if to think strictly as Einstein’s precursors thought, is it more legitimate as to have explained a set of phenomena with simply mathematically consistent rules, or to have them be considered as explained in the terms of nature having qualities, which in this instance is to say it having no preferred reverence frame, where for which anyone arbitrarily chosen all the laws of nature will remain and present as the same.
Now for me in order to decide this question comes down to asking oneself, is nature and by virtue reality itself a collection of arbitrarily chosen yet set actions, explainable only as a series of interlinked and interdependent recipes, or rather a structure that is a consequence of reason leaving no choice at all as to how and why it must be. For me it comes to ask, is there is only one or many ways what is known as reality can come to be real; which I answer to myself in the affirmative, as to have all the other choices simply as what cannot be, by reason of them physically unable to be demonstrated as such.
So with all this considered I continue by way of support in asking what is phenomenology’s true role in physics as part of its method of discovery? That is restrict it as simply able to make predictions in regards to the actions of our world or further be able to find the reason(s) behind what mandates such actions. When I consider my first insistence as those things can only be real in one way, as reason present to dictate to me as to demand , I would say physics is to have answered, with the aid of phenomenology the latter question, rather than the first. Of course having such an opinion finds me to be in the minority these days; as such things are concerned, with subsequently demoting reason to being anything that can be imagined, which I would argue has no reason assignable to it at all.
So for me it comes down to have one finally ask oneself, are the importance of demonstrated things like symmetry, conservation, least action, invariance and covariance, all able to be explained away by the seeming purposeless randomness of uncertainty, as most now believe, or is it also just another necessity for nature to have reality present itself only as it is, rather than one of just many ways. I would say in conclusion today that with those like Plato, Aristotle, Archimedes, Descartes, Newton and Einstein , which I’ve here before mentioned, that the world is a structure whose form and action being those only demonstrated and demonstratable as explainable as resultant reason. So I would then say who am I to deny this as being true only of course if science can demonstrate convincingly by way of its own method(s) this no longer be so.