Saturday, January 02, 2010


Phenomenology Has us know just How, Why or both?

I would just like to open today in acknowledging that my posts in this blog have been few and far between and to explain my reason for this as it being I only write here mostly what I consider as being consistent with the blog's focus. which is in my continuing to ask why there is this modern division between the questions that science and philosophy are seen as being restricted for each to answer. That is with science it be how and while philosophy only why the world presents itself as being as it is. That’s simply to say up until now I haven't found anything that I could add beyond what I’ve said thus far. However, as a result of reading the post of another's much more active and what I consider a more generally valuable blog, I was reminded of how I might address this question of the how and why for the world from another direction, which happens to bring into play the kind of scientist Einstein along with others I've mentioned before differ in contrast to many of their contemporary's today and to what that might be.

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.

While one would deduce the meaning of the word phenomenology by context from your excellent blarticle, Phil, it might be worthy to add a paragraph at the very beginning as to define the word's meaning in your particular context, as the word is quite far from the vernacular.

Indeed, it boggles the mind how many definitions the word has. From Wikipedia, for instance we get no less than these:

* Phenomenology (architecture), based on the experience of building materials and their sensory properties
* Phenomenology (archaeology), based upon understanding cultural landscapes from a sensory perspective.
* Phenomenology (particle physics), the part of particle physics that deals with the application of theory to high energy experiments
* Phenomenology (philosophy), a philosophical method and school of philosophy founded by Edmund Husserl (1859 – 1938)
* Phenomenology (psychology), used in psychology to refer to subjective experiences or their study
* Phenomenology (science), used in science to describe a body of knowledge which relates empirical observations of phenomena to each other
* Phenomenology of Perception, the magnum opus of French phenomenological philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty
* Phenomenology of religion, concerning the experiential aspect of religion in terms consistent with the orientation of the worshipers
* The Phenomenology of Spirit by G. W. F. Hegel (1770 – 1831)
* Existential phenomenology in the work of Husserl's student Martin Heidegger (1889 – 1976) and his followers
Hi Steven,

That’s indeed an excellent point, yet one offering its own problems in finding a definition not as restrictive as that of many you indicated. To be simplistic about it, I would say phenomenology is the scientific ally logical study and assessment of what the world presents by way of the direct or logically consistent indirect observations made by way of experiment. I would of course welcome any ideas or criticism you have to offer.

Also, I must say I was at first surprised you discovered this just published post of mine. Then to discover you are listed as one of my few blog follower, which now will have me thinking I should become the same in regards to your own. As you can see thiswas resultant of Bee’s post having me to think about this all again.


Phil: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.

This is what may show my contrast to the real science of the day to have it in correlation to defining position and momentum in the uncertainty principal, showing, the mystery of time clocks and such which can draft the speed to which all thoughts are held in context to an emotive relation about one's experience.

So in that context one sees the higgs boson or an oscillating neutrino, to manifest the realization in "one form or another" as evidenced too, the materialization of particulates in expression, are deeply hidden within our own makeup to specify that we too are capable beings of setting the course according to such and such, and therein lies our own historicity in the making.

What our life has accumulated too.

Phil, thanks for your wisdom. I appreciate that and will get back on comment in a short while.

In the meantime, and if you'll pardon my getting off-topic for a minute, our friend (and your fellow Philosopher) Plato the Blogger has me interested in the current experiments in MathPhys, and the sad and horribly state of UNDERfunding of same. Regarding that:

We, Humanity (or perhaps I'm being too harsh and should just say "Americans"), have culturally lost all respect for our finest minds, and by that I mean REAL Philosophers (such as yourself and Plato), Mathematicians, and Physicists.

I'm not sure where the disrespect began. Perhaps it is hardwired into our species, but one big moment, two actually, that the "public" draw on is Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

A shame really, as the users of French Nuclear Power will attest.

And yes, the Public's view is QUITE important. They elect the Politicians, who then decide the budgets. All I can say on that is, thank goodness for rich individuals like Richard Branson and Mike Lazaridis and the late Louis Bamberger. Thank goodness SOME of them (and too few of same) know what's really important to help and save our species. We'd be dead without them, were we to rely on government alone to solve our problems, eh?

And now, a simple request, Master Phil:

Please click here and comment. Your wisdom is always appreciated, thanks.

The title of that latest blarticle is "Philosophers Wanted: Long Hours, Low Pay, Important Work."

It's the first blarticle of mine that I'm actually recruiting comment on.
Hi Steven,

Thanks for the praise of which I feel most undeserving, as I consider myself a mere student of philosophy rather than one who develops it. I have has a look at your last post and would be happy to make comment as soon as I can collect my thoughts enough as to respond with something that might add to your contention as to why the thinkers of the world are scorned and feared rather then looked to for answers in times of crisis.


Well, the main reason to ME is that the Mathematics have gotten far out of control, combined with the ineptitude (I will single out Tom Siegfried of Science News who is a non-objective, totally String Theory-biased powermonger wannabe in Science Journalism) of Science Journalists who unite Science and the voting Public to NOT get differing opinions and publish whatever crazy theory the String Theorists TELL them. Scientific American seems to give the most objective treatment, but there is some bias there as well. No everyman will ever read Nature or Science, more's the pity, and I believe Discover and New Scientist confused Opinion with Fact long ago such that I take nothing they publish either seriously or without great skepticism. Popular Science, indeed Popular Mechanics, are probably more informative in a correct way than either of them.

Well, the Fact is that String Theory mathematics is an order of magnitude tougher than Quantum Field Theory, which is a order tougher than Quantum Mechanics which is an order tougher than Relativity, so I actually understand why the journalists can't keep up.

Nevertheless, QM and Rela aren't THAT hard for a bachelor in Engineering; QFT is a bit of a challenge but not impossible, yet String Theorists hide behind their Maths whenever they are backed against a wall or into a corner (which new Facts have repeatedly done across the recent decades), which is ridiculous because THEY KNOW nobody can follow their thinking, which may very well be not only Science Fiction but Science Fantasy.

And the Public resents that.

Hence the backlash.
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