Higgs Boson

This brief article over at NRO discusses why most people are uninterested in the potential discovery of the Higgs Boson (e.g. why everything has mass). (Read it here.)

They found the “God particle.”

That was the headline splashed all over America’s news media. It turns out that the name actually derives from substituting “God particle” for “goddamn particle,” the original name some scientists had given the elusive particle. But the media adopted the former nomenclature.

Why?

Because otherwise the bulk of humanity would not pay attention.

It obliquely strikes a sore nerve for science, especially science done without any belief in God, science done by hard-bitten atheists for hard-bitten atheists.

The discovery of the Higgs boson brings us no closer to understanding why there is a universe, not to mention whether life has meaning.

That, I think is the problem. Physics (in the Aristotelian sense) today has lost its metaphysics, and the scientists try to make up the metaphysics as they go. Frequently they are horribly bad at it too… They also seem to not be aware of how amateurish their attempts are since they suffer from impressive feelings of self-worth and educatedness… but in a lot of ways a scientist attempting philosophy today is much like a philosopher attempting science. That this is the case is a terrible shame. Science needs philosophy in order to provide a reason to do science, and philosophy needs science to winnow theories down to those plausible in the world we live in (rather than hypothetical worlds in their heads.)

But people are taught to expect everyone to be scientific or philosophical, to be artistic or mathematics. The one is supposedly the antithesis of the other. This division is poison for every discipline. When you observe how a violinist practices, read about how artists like van Eyck painted, and look at the tedious research of a Noble Laureate in Chemistry, the focus the discipline and the occasional flashes of pure genius are the same. Even the mindset is the same. Science and art and philosophy have so much in common, and they support each other. Obviously not everyone can do all arts, philosophies, and sciences well, true genius in each one of these is almost a monomania. However, I think artists should at least dabble in science and mathematics, and absolutely know philosophy (another discussion for another time, but I think art is visible philosophy), scientists should learn philosophy and music or art, and philosophers… well I guess it would be a start if any existed. Real philosophy is almost extinct, rather what we mostly have is the study of philosophy, not philosophy itself.

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4 responses to “Higgs Boson

  1. You’re absolutely right that there should be a better relationship between science and philosophy. Certainly philosophers need to keep up with those parts of science relevant to their area of study and it’d be nice if (certain) scientists would stop bashing philosophy based on an odd idea of what philosophy actually is. I’m not sure what you mean by real philosophy being almost extinct. There’s plenty of philosophy still being done!

  2. I just mean that it seems like most philosophy done is merely studying and ‘disproving’ or deconstructing old philosophies. Though, oddly enough, one of the few places philosophy seems still strong is in the Science Fiction genre. While I disagree with philosophy propounded ‘Childhood’s End’ by Arthur C. Clarke is a profoundly philosophical book. As is ‘The Worthing Saga’ by Orson Scott Card. Hope that clarifies what I was thinking.

  3. Great comments on a well stated article. I did not know the historical name. Would love to discuss it with you.

  4. Pingback: Eliot and Moral Decay | The Dusty Thanes

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