Bennett's Blog

The Philosophy of Physics... apparently.

Bennett R. Coles | July 22, 2011

I recently finished Dr. Stephen Hawking's latest book. This is the one where he stated, on Page 1, that "philosophy is dead" and he extolled the superiority of science.

I looked forward to reading the rest of the book, if only to see how Dr. Hawking, certainly one of the cleverest people alive, was going to defend this bold hypothesis. I was very disappointed. For chapter after chapter I would read some strong opening paragraph which was followed by pages of vapid, unsupported opinion that I was apparently supposed to accept without evidence as fact simply because it came from the mind of a scientist.

The true irony of this book is that it is, in fact, a work of philosophy that just happens to have been penned by a scientist. Unlike his previous popular books, which explore the tenets of physics and lucidly explain the fundamental concepts to the non-physicist reader, this book is little more than a desperate rant on why science is so important and any other way of thinking is just plain wrong. I wonder if Dr. Hawking and his fellow theoretical physicists are getting a little nervous that after twenty years, hundreds of careers and billions of dollars in research grants, their holy grail known as string theory is proving to be little more than junk.

I've already forgotten the name of this book, but it should have been called "Why Science Rules: The Hawking Philosophy".

Philosophy is far from dead. The subjects debated by philosophers may have changed over the millenia, but the pursuit of knowledge and truth is still very much in this realm. Theoretical physics, if it wants to stay relevant, would do well to pay attention.

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