Registered: Oct 2003
Scientific Revolution? Error Correction!
The following is my reply of today's date to a correspondent's questions on epistemology and physical science - a subject matter to which I have given much thought over the past 30 years.
It may be of interest to NKS Forumites.
I take epistemology to be concerned with the validity of claims to knowledge - science.
All claims to scientific knowledge are the product of the mind's processing of a sub-set of the universe of sense impressions.
Thus, invalid claims to knowledge are the result either of mental malfunction or mis-specification of the sub-set in question.
In principle, invalid claims to knowledge may be the result of two distinct kinds of mental malfunction.
The first kind - error in deductive reasoning from a given set of axiomatic premises - is easily caught.
The other kind - error in the specification of axioms appropriate to a given sub-set - is the seed of scientific revolutions. (Planck, Einstein, et al.)
From the vantage point of epistemology, scientific revolution is mere label for correction of some gargantuan error of axiom specification.
Hence Einstein's comments in his August 1954 letter to Michele Besso cited earlier:
"I concede, however, that it is quite possible that physics cannot be founded on the concept of field - that is to say, on continuous elements. But then, out of my whole castle in the air - including the theory of gravitation [General Relativity], but also most of current physics - there would remain almost nothing."
Let me add in this respect that it is crystal clear that the "field" axiom is untenable - for example, a photon of light propagating through the solar system along a straight line will appear to an observer outside (hence not rotating with) the solar system to be moving along a curved path.
In the context of relativistic physics, this implies that "the concept of field" breaks down at the solar system's boundary - that universal space is discontinuous.
Gargantuan errors of axiom specification are not unique to economic "science"!
Last edited by Gunnar Tomasson on 10-08-2004 at 05:03 PM
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