Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Grand Design - Model Dependent Realism


The Grand DesignThe Grand Design by Stephen Hawking
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I was a philosophy major undergrad, I wrote several essays, and ultimately my senior thesis, on a premise that is here much more elegantly presented by Stephen Hawking as Model-Dependent Realism. He obviously understands the underlying scientific models better than I do or ever will, though his snide comment that "philosophy is dead" is somewhat ironic considering that this book is essentially a piece of populist scientific philosophy. The most pressing issues for philosophy have changed in the places where the academy isn't still navel gazing, or stuck in Heidegger's lederhosen.

Anyway, enough about that. To the book. My point is that this book doesn't present anything especially new for those of us who have already filled our heads with Berkeley, Hume, Feynman, Einstein, and so on. But that doesn't mean that it isn't worth reading. To the contrary, it is one of the most elegant presentations of the intersection of science and philosophy meant for the public that I've yet encountered. Again with the irony of "philosophy is dead." (Wittgenstein made a similar pronouncement in the wake of his Tractatus. That was published ~1921.)

I highly suggest reading this book because elegance is, as Hawking states, one of the highest values for a theory aside from conforming with observation. I also suggest it because model-dependent realism is a more subtle, more accurate interpretation of relativism that should be burned into the minds of everyone that wishes to work in the sciences, or humanities for that matter. It is not a conclusion or an end point, but rather the starting point from which we can avoid a great deal of wasted effort and ink.

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Want a summary of Model Dependent Realism? Check out this page.

[Where is the fucking counterculture? Mythos Media.]

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