steveb at creek-and-cowley.com
Mon Jun 17 17:30:27 PDT 2002
On Mon, 2002-06-17 at 18:30, Albert Wagner wrote:
> This is all perfectly rational. However, for the sake of argument, is it fair
> to ask that all of the sciences (loosely defined) be as mathematically
> rigorous as physics?
I don't think so. Physics clearly involves many things more easy to
measure than some other sciences. Despite that, I do think areas of
biology could use more math and be more rigorous than they have been.
> What I am leading up to are concepts like self awareness and free will.
> If both are simply deterministic phenomena, albeit greatly more complex
> than anything we have ever studied before, then mathematical tools are appropriate.
I think there's an extra element of perspective here. Our existence may
very well be deterministic but we still can't analyze it as a whole
because we are part of it. A similar sort of scientific reasoning is
that behind the uncertainty principle, where any attempt to measure must
disturb. A similar sort of religious reasoning is the answer to the
"problem of evil". If god is good how can evil exist? The answer is
that "evil existing" is a flawed assumption because it assumes we are
capable of seeing the end results of all things and therefore can decide
what is ultimately harmful or not.
> However, if life, especially higher order life, introduces a new
> thing, something immanent/transcendent, then mathematical tools won't
> take us all the way.
Now that's a nice point and there is a solid answer in there as to why
some stages of evolution are hard to model.
> I once saw a graph of systems with randomness on one axis and complexity on
> the other. At one extreme were systems that had sufficient randomness that
> statistics were a useful tool of prediction. At the other extreme were
> systems with low randomness, like simple mechines, and statistics were of
> little utility. Man has discovered tools for use in both of these extremes.
> However, in the middle are systems that have not enough randomness for
> statistics and are too complex for systems analysis. We have, as yet, no
> good tools for dealing with such problems. It seems to me that the study of
> any system that contains immanence, in the form of a non-deterministic
> quality like awareness or free-will, must be cut some slack while the tools
> are invented.
Another good point.
Creek & Cowley Consulting
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