Friday, 3 February 2012

Scientism and how this worldview closes other possible roads to reality.

In his collection Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge (Harper & Row, 1963), Popper writes, "Science must begin with myths, and with the criticism of myths; neither with the collection of observations, nor with the invention of experiments, but with the critical discussion of myths, and of magical techniques and practices. The scientific tradition is distinguished from the pre-scientific tradition in having two layers. Like the latter, it passes on its theories; but it also passes on a critical attitude towards them. The theories are passed on, not as dogmas, but rather with the challenge to discuss them and improve upon them."

The Logic of Scientific knowledge was given by Karl Popper and it is his philosophy of science which is the most accepted one in the scientific community and therefore it is important to understand his philosophical stands, Karl Popper was a falsificationist and a postpositivist. He opposed Logical Positivism, a view which rejected metaphysics and ontology statements as meaningless. He was not a positivist either because he opposed the distinction of phenomena and the actual thing in itself in science. According to Karl Popper falsification doesn't mean that metaphysical and ontological questions are meaningless, it just means they are unscientific but those statements might very well become scientific probably in the next century or in the future through paradigm shifts as described by Thomas Kuhn and therefore its not wrong to have a meaningful metaphysical speculation.

Stephen Hawking is a recent high profile advocate of positivism, at least in the physical sciences. In The Universe in a Nutshell (p. 31) he writes

Any sound scientific theory, whether of time or of any other concept, should in my opinion be based on the most workable philosophy of science: the positivist approach put forward by Karl Popper and others. According to this way of thinking, a scientific theory is a mathematical model that describes and codifies the observations we make. A good theory will describe a large range of phenomena on the basis of a few simple postulates and will make definite predictions that can be tested… If one takes the positivist position, as I do, one cannot say what time actually is. All one can do is describe what has been found to be a very good mathematical model for time and say what predictions it makes.
I appreciate it when many hold this kind of Positivism because it clearly shows that philosophy and ontology are irrelevant to science and there are some questions which science cannot address and give an authoritative answer to them.

[S]cience can stand on its own feet and does not need any help from rationalists, secular humanists, Marxists and similar religious movements; and ... non-scientific cultures, procedures and assumptions can also stand on their own feet and should be allowed to do so ... Science must be protected from ideologies; and societies, especially democratic societies, must be protected from science... In a democracy scientific institutions, research programmes, and suggestions must therefore be subjected to public control, there must be a separation of state and science just as there is a separation between state and religious institutions, and science should be taught as one view among many and not as the one and only road to truth and reality.

— Feyerabend, Against Method, p.viii

I oppose the views of Scientism, the positivist approach of science doesn't give us a complete understanding of the world around us and hence other roads to reality should be open for speculation and for criticism. The argument against Gods or against religion are very weak saying they probably don't exist or its very unlikely that they exist are not enough absolute evidence for ruling out the possibility for the existence of God.

My stance on this-

I am a realist and to me this universe exist independent of an observer and the reality described by scientific models are very much real as long as you are confined with in the simulation of your mind but they don't give answers for the questions asked about the actual physical system which we are describing, we cannot know what time and space actually is and we cannot either know what particles actually are but the paradigm shift here is that religion can provide answers to those questions.

I mean that just how we cannot show Australia or Antarctica if we only have half of the map of earth, (i.e the northern hemisphere) in the same way we need to have a different map in order to answer those ontological questions. It means we need to observe the universe using a fourth state of consciousness apart from the three awake, sleep and dream states. A fourth state means transcending from your own mind and perceiving the world. The observable world of science appears when we are completely awake and the world of religion appears when we are neither in awake and dream states and nor in deep sleep state. This would mean that the actual physical system might be only made up of five elements ( i.e Water, Fire, Space, Earth and Air) and it resolves the contradictions between scientific and religious worlds. Science will be irrelevant to religion and vise versa.

The method to have control over the four states of consciousness is called as Avastatreya (Avaste means states) and one can see one's own mind and intelligence in that fourth state and in this way it will be a self evidence that what we are observing is real and the one who has achieved such a state is a true philosopher because he doesn't speculate on the nature of things as it is like this or it is like that, he knows what exactly it "is" and that's the beauty of it.


@ Arindam is

The Atman is beyond Body, Mind, Intellect complex. It is Dhruk and not Dhrushya, it is the seer and not seen. The BMI are coming under 'seen' and realsing that I am the Seer is the knowledge.

It is taught in three different ways. It is beyond Pancha kosa , Avastatreya, and Sarirathreya.

Atman is different from Pancha Kosas- Body, Prana,Manas,Buddhi and beyond Ananda as a kosa.

And different from Wakeful,dream, Deep sleep state.

And different from Gross, subtle and Causal bodies.

The idea is Mind and Intellects are also different from Atma

The method to self-realize the five elements is called as Panchbootha Sakshatkar ( Panch- means five, bootha- means elements and Sakshatkar - means self-evidence) and you can realize that those five elements including time and space actually exists as it "is" and this is the real understanding of the ontology of matter, time and space.
If we do some research and search for genuine people who know that knowledge then we might learn them and observe them and it would resolve our conflicts between science and religion without in any way changing any of their claims and their model of world.
Yes there is something that science will never be able to explain it is called as Qualia(Universals). Qualia are aspects of our perception that don't exist in the external world, for example:- Colours, tastes, pain etc. In this following link Mapping pain in Brain the neurologists often use the word processing of pain but such an understanding of pain is incomplete, if they have such an authority over the complete understanding of the processing of pain then they should be able to understand the quantitative as well as the qualitative aspects of pain. What do I mean by qualitative aspects of pain is that neurologists should be able to completely understand and simulate the mechanisms that causes the subjective experience of pain, if they have such a complete understanding of the experience of pain then we can use the same mechanisms that are used in the cognitive processing of the Brain to be simulated in neural networks and enabling even machines to have subjective emotional experiences rather than just creating Philosophical zombies which mimic human behaviours but will not have an inner life of their own.

The point is our current understanding of Brain biochemistry doesn't provide any mechanisms what so ever to simulate the qualitative aspects of pain and other similar subjective experiences. This forms the hard-problem of consciousness as formulated by David Chalmers.

James Trefil notes that "it is the only major question in the sciences that we don't even know how to ask."
Therefore the cognitive processing of the Brain is not enough to account for the subjective experiences such as pain, redness, sweetness etc and these are the things which exist separately and independently from the physical objects and individuals who suffer from Lexical --> Gustatory Synesthesia are a perfect evidence that they arise from some form of cognitive processing and the point is that we need to understand the processing of these qualia which are non-physical in nature and only such a complete understanding of the cognitive processing in the Brain as well as the processing of qualia will give us a better understanding to solve the easy as well as the hard problems of cognitive processes of consciousness.

It seems to me that the different pathways of neurons that exist for different forms of pain indicates that the non-physical qualia have a casual effect on the physical world and it seems as though these neuronal pathways are just amplifiers to experience different forms and varieties of qualia. The Knowledge argument of qualia use a thought experiment called as Mary's room which indicates qualia represent some real knowledge and we need to have this knowledge in order to understand the complete cognitive processing of how the brain generates specific replies to specific sensory inputs.

If qualia are to be non-physical properties (which they must be in order to constitute an argument against physicalism), some argue that it is almost impossible to imagine how they could have a causal effect on the physical world. By redefining qualia as epiphenomenal, Jackson attempts to protect them from the demand of playing a causal role.

Later, however, he rejected epiphenomenalism. This, he argues, is due to the fact that when Mary first sees red, she says "wow," so it must be Mary's qualia that causes her to say "wow." This contradicts epiphenomenalism. Since the Mary's room thought experiment seems to create this contradiction, there must be something wrong with it. This is often referred to as the "there must be a reply" reply.

The positivist approach of Copenhagen Interpretation developed by Neils Bohr which is followed by majority of the orthodox physicists and the violation of the Bell's inequality theorem forces us to develop a different intuitive way of looking at reality. We are forced to believe that particles will not always have pre-determined values to physical quantities or attributes and the consequence of such a thinking leads us not to believe that particles will have attributes such a position, momentum, polarisation(in the case of a photon) until the particle is measured or observed through a detector extracting or accessing the precise information or the value of a physical attribute and more importantly this act of knowing or measuring will change the possible values that can be assigned to a quantum system destroying the delicate pattern of interference and Bohr was of the intention that we are not changing the physical nature of the quantum system, what we change is only the possible values that can be assigned to a quantum system.
This leads us to be skeptical

I mean to say if positivism forces us to believe that a particle can be separated from its actual physical nature from its measurable physical quantities such as position, momentum and polarisation, what understanding we really have about a particle, what it "is" physically? Does it mean that position, momentum, polarisation, mass, charge, spin etc are quantitative qualia which exist separately and independently from physical objects and exist only in our minds? If we can all experience the qualia of sweetness when we taste sugar and consider that the qualia sweetness is an universal what would prevent us to assert that even the mass and position of sugar molecules are an experience of a qualia which is universal to all of us.
The consequences of this way of thinking are even more radical than may appear so far. Consider a photon polarized in a 45° state and we ask the question ‘Is this photon horizontally or vertically polarized? But this is surely a meaningless question: the polarization is neither pointing upwards nor from side to side; it is pointing at an angle. It might make some sense to say that it is pointing partly up and down and partly from side to side (i.e. it is in a superposition of an H and a V state), but it is certainly not doing either one of these or the other. To ask this question is as meaningless as asking if a banana is either an apple or an orange. Thus, when we say that we ‘measure’ the HV polarization of a 45° photon, we are using the word in a rather different sense from the normal one. When we measure, say, the length of a piece of string, we have no problem in assuming thatthe string has some value of length before we put it on the ruler, but a quantum measurement is in general quite different. As we saw above, it alters the state of the system in such a way as to give reality to a quantity that was indefinable in its previous context. Now consider the implications of this way of thinking for measurements of particle position. Most of us tend to assume that a particle always has to be ‘somewhere’ even when it is not being observed, but this is not true in the quantum context: if a particle is in a state where its position is unknown, then to think about it even having a position is just as meaningless as ascribing H or V polarization to a particle in a 45° state. It is meaningless to say that the particle has passed through one slit or the other when an interference pattern is formed. Similarly, it is wrong to think that an electron in an atom is at any single point within it. However, just as the 45° state can be thought of as a superposition of H and V, we can think of the wave function as representing a superposition of possible positions, the contributions to the superposition from any point being weighted according to the size of the wave function at that point...............

.................Consider the set-up shown in Figure 8.5. As before, a 45o photon passes through an HV polarizer, but instead of being detected, the two paths possible are brought together so that they can interfere in a manner similar to that in the two-slit experiment. Just as in that experiment, we do not know which path the photon passes along, so we cannot attribute reality to either. The consequence is that the 45o polarization is reconstructed by the addition of the H and V components – as we can demonstrate by passing the photon through another ±45o polarizer and observing that all the photons emerge in the +45o channel as in Figure 8.5. If, however, we had placed a detector in one of the paths and between the two polarizers, we would either have detected the particle or we would not, so we would know that its polarization was either H or V; it turns out that in such a case, it is impossible in practice to reconstruct the original state and the emerging photons are either H or V. We are led to the conclusion that the act of detection is an essential part of the measuring process and is responsible for placing the photon into an H or V state. This is consistent with the positivist approach outlined earlier, because in the absence of detection we do not know that the photon possesses polarization so we should not assume that it does.

Figure 8.5 Light split into two components by an HV polarizer can be reunited by a second polarizer facing in the opposite direction (marked as VH). If the crystals are set up carefully so that the two paths through the apparatus are identical, the light emerging on the right has the same polarization as that incident on the left. This is also true for individual photons, a fact that is difficult to reconcile with the idea of measurement changing the photon’s state of polarization.

...............However, the Copenhagen approach goes further and denies the reality of anything other than the changes that occur in the classical apparatus: only the life or death of the
cat or the ‘permanent marks on a photographic plate’ are real. The polarization state of the photon is an idealistic concept extrapolated from the results of our observations and no greater reality should be attributed to it. From this point of view, the function of quantum physics is to make statistical predictions about the outcome of experiments and we should not attribute any truth-value to any conclusions we may draw about the nature of the quantum system itself.........

...........An experiment illustrating the same principle, though not involving polarization measurements, was suggested by Einstein and co-workers in 1935. They concluded,

If, without in any way disturbing the system, we can predict with certainty (i.e. with probability equal to unity) the value of a physical quantity, then there exists an element of physical reality corresponding to this physical quantity.

How then does conventional quantum theory treat a situation such as the measurement of the polarization of photon pairs? Shortly after Einstein’s paper came out, Bohr published a response, the key phrase of which was ‘There is essentially the question of an influence on the very conditions that define the possible types of prediction regarding the future behaviour of the system’ (Bohr’s italics). Applying this to the two-photon case, Bohr is saying that if we alter the orientation of one of the polarizers, we are not affecting the photons physically, but are only changing the attributes (i.e. the allowed values of the polarization) that we can assign to the system.....

....Whether or not we find this satisfactory depends strongly on our own ideas and prejudices. It certainly did not satisfy Einstein, whose reaction was that Bohr’s position was logically possible, but ‘so very contrary to my scientific instinct that I cannot forego my search for a more complete conception’. No such ‘complete conception’ has yet emerged to command a consensus in the scientific community.

- Quantum Physics
 A Beginner’s Guide by
Alastair I. M. Rae

If this is the case then the question of why the act of measurement changes the quantum system in such a way that it is impossible to simultaneously detect the precise information of position of a wavicle and also to observe the delicate interference being formed on the screen is not a problem  of nature it is more of a problem of processes of perception in the mind. A limitation on the mathematical relationships of position and momentum quale processing during the processing of perception in the mind of a subjective observer.
Below experiment shows that Heisenberg's uncertainty principle and the Bohr's argument that the detector induces random kicks to the electrons which causes the interference pattern to be destroyed cannot account for such a phenomena we need a new perspective to it.

The revisionist picture of the Bohr-Einstein debates stems partly from a suggestion made in 1991 by Marlan Scully, Berthold-Georg Englert, and Herbert Walther of the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics in Garching, Germany. These researchers proposed using atoms as quantum objects in a version of Young's two-slit experiment. Atoms have an important advantage over simpler particles, such as photons or electrons: they have a variety of internal states, including a ground state (lowest energy state) and a series of excited states. These different states, the German team reckoned, could be used to track the atom's path.
Seven years later, Gerhard Rempe and his colleagues at the University of Konstanz, also in Germany, brought the experiment to life – and made a surprising discovery. Their technique involved cooling atoms of rubidium down to within a hair's breadth of absolute zero. (Cold atoms have long wavelengths, which make their interference patterns easier to observe.) Then they split a beam of the atoms using thin barriers of pure laser light. When the two beams were combined, they created the familiar double-slit interference pattern. Next, Rempe and his colleagues looked to see which path the atoms followed. The atoms going down one path were left alone, but those on the other path were nudged into a higher energy state by a pulse of microwaves (short wavelength radio waves). Following this treatment, the atoms, in their internal states, carried a record of which way they'd gone.

The crucial factor in this version of the double-slit experiment is that the microwaves have hardly any momentum of their own, so they can cause virtually no change to the atom's momentum – nowhere near enough to smear out the interference pattern. Heisenberg's uncertainty principle can't possibly play a significant hand in the outcome. Yet with the microwaves turned on so that we can tell which way the atoms went, the interference pattern suddenly vanishes. Bohr had argued that when such a pattern is lost, it happens because a measuring device gives random kicks to the particles. But there aren't any random kicks to speak of in the rubidium atom experiment; at most, the microwaves deliver momentum taps ten thousand times too small to destroy the interference bands. Yet, destroyed the bands are. It isn't that the uncertainty principle is proved wrong, but there's no way it can account for the results.

The only reason momentum kicks seemed to explain the classic double slit experiment discussed by Bohr and Einstein turns out to be a fortunate conspiracy of numbers. There's a mechanism at work far deeper than random jolts and uncertainty. What destroys the interference pattern is the very act of trying to get information about which paths is followed.