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I was very surprised to find in the DIM Hypothesis that Quantum Mechanics and String Theory was grouped into the M and D categories. I understood the essays and LP's approach to the subject, but does that mean he attempted to philosophically refute scientific theory? As a lover of science, I almost found his criticism insulting to the hard work many have devoted to expanded human knowledge; are my sentiments misplaced?

asked Mar 13 '13 at 22:16

TheBucket's gravatar image


edited Mar 15 '13 at 12:47

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦

This is an interesting question, but I'm not sure what it has to do with Objectivism.

(Mar 16 '13 at 17:21) anthony anthony's gravatar image

The DIM Hypothesis is focused on modes of cognitive integration and their effects on human culture, human societies, and human life. DIM is not focused on trying to refute anything, although the mode of cognitive integration underlying an idea or theory can certainly have a huge impact on its validity. And, yes, Quantum Mechanics is explained in Dr. Peikoff's book as being driven by a D2 mode of integration, while String Theory is driven by an M2 mode. D2 refers to pure disintegration, inspired philosophically by Kant, while M2 refers to pure misintegration, inspired philosophically by Plato. Conspicuously missing from both D2 and M2 is any element of true integration, 'I', inspired philosophically by Aristotle. The book presents the works and words of the physicists themselves as evidence of the cognitive mode they are following, with abundant, specific references listed, chapter by chapter, in the Endnotes at the back of the book.

The mode of cognitive integration underlying an idea or theory is what it is; it's a fact and is presented as such in Dr. Peikoff's book. If anyone finds it insulting to the work of scientists, one should ask what the scientists themselves have said about their own work. A cognitive mode is not something imposed on others' work by critics; it is something inherent in the work itself and followed very consciously and systematically by those workers. They want to follow whatever their mode is, and they know they are doing it. What is new is the explicit identification and integration of cognitive modes which the DIM Hypothesis provides, along with an identification of what happens to entire cultures that are dominated in all fields by a specific mode. That may indeed come as a surprise, perhaps even an unwelome surprise, to committed followers of the various modes. The whole DIM Hypothesis amounts to a declaration that A is A, the modes are what they are.

answered Mar 15 '13 at 15:09

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦

This answer definitely doesn't present the whole story. To understand what's going on, you have to realize that Dr. Peikoff learned physics from David Harriman, and Mr. Harriman certainly has attempted to philosophically refute the science of physics.

(Mar 17 '13 at 08:39) anthony anthony's gravatar image

But you're getting ahead of the story. Before one can establish why Dr. Peikoff erred, one must first establish that he did err (if he did). Interested readers are invited to examine Dr. Peikoff's book on its own merits, and perhaps check some or all of the references, to reach their own independent conclusions.

(Mar 18 '13 at 15:10) Ideas for Life ♦ Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Based on what I've read about it, it doesn't sound like something worth reading. Maybe if I can find it in the library, or otherwise can get a free preview, I might take advantage of that, though.

Update: Nope, not in the library, and $14.99 for the Kindle edition.

(Mar 18 '13 at 15:33) anthony anthony's gravatar image

I too remain somewhat unsatisfied with the view on Quantum mechanics. It appears that some Objectivists I have heard from and read seem to want the Universe to be a predictable, logical, Newtonian-Aristotelian one. When confronted with violations of this view of the world (eg: http://www.thekeyboard.org.uk/Quantum%20mechanics.htm ), I see folks retreating to dogmatic "A is A" statements etc. which doesn't help much. A particle is a particle, right? Wrong. It is a wave as well. A is A, A is a wave but then A is also a particle. We need to better understand this "duality".

(Mar 23 '13 at 21:57) Danneskjold_repo Danneskjold_repo's gravatar image

Me too, I am somewhat insecure about my objectivist beliefs now that no one wants to challenge what seems to me like an utterly absurd thing to say (Mr. LP disregarding science itself). I am very troubled that such a prominent intellectual as such could even say such a thing and am pleased that some people are just as confused.

(Mar 24 '13 at 01:55) TheBucket TheBucket's gravatar image

TheBucket, I am deeply skeptical of your statement that Peikoff is "disregarding science itself" given his long, loud, and consistent advocacy of reason and reality spanning decades. Do you have evidence to back up your claims?

(Mar 24 '13 at 04:32) Greg Perkins ♦♦ Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Anthony, you are also making claims about others here that are surprising. I have not seen Harriman attempt to "refute the science of physics" per se. Can you substantiate that please? (I have only seen him reject the thinking of some physicists -- which is unremarkable as it is fairly common among scientists.)

(Mar 24 '13 at 04:49) Greg Perkins ♦♦ Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Dannesjold_repo, you might find this earlier question and it's answers interesting. If you find it unsatisfying, perhaps you can pose a constructive followup question here on OA that someone might be able answer to bring some satisfaction one way or the other. :^)

(Mar 24 '13 at 04:57) Greg Perkins ♦♦ Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Harriman's lectures are all over the Internet. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aow8hVpdSHQ for example. It's not just some physicists. "They [the physicists, not some physicists] discovered that the world is not lawful or intelligible."

"That is the official history, as presented in thousands of books and lectures today. Nearly every physics professor in the country believes that fairy tale."

So, no, it's not just "some" physicists that Harriman has attacked with his strawmen. It's "nearly every physics professor in the country".

I'm trying not to insult the man, but it's hard.

(Mar 24 '13 at 10:29) anthony anthony's gravatar image

Here's another link: http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=reg_ls_physics&JServSessionIdr007=pn1gsniz25.app1a

"the irrationalism of modern philosophy is the quicksand that engulfed physics in the 20th century"

Again he is not attacking just some physicists. He is attacking "physics in the 20th century". And he's doing so by misstating both history and physics.

(Mar 24 '13 at 10:39) anthony anthony's gravatar image

"Danneskjold_repo", I think retreating to "A is A" when interpreting a strange experimental occurrence is not only helpful, it's mandatory.

Also, something to consider is that "A is A" does not imply that "A is not B".

(Mar 24 '13 at 10:58) anthony anthony's gravatar image

Fair enough Anthony. A kiwi is a bird. A kiwi is a fluffball. This kind of stuff is fine by me since a bird can be a fluffball and a fluffball can be a bird. The problem is when we get to statements that equate to "a kiwi is a bird" and "a kiwi is a ball". It's very hard to say that birds are often balls and balls are often birds. This is unfortunately where we are with particles and waves.

(Mar 27 '13 at 21:20) Danneskjold_repo Danneskjold_repo's gravatar image

Philosophy cannot demand that a QEME must always behave as a particle or always a wave under all test conditions. A QEME is what it is. It is the task of the special sciences (such as physics) to identify what the nature of a QEME is. ("QEME" is my own term to help clarify what kind of entity we are talking about. It stands for "Quantum Energy-Matter Entity.")

(Mar 27 '13 at 21:40) Ideas for Life ♦ Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

"It's very hard to say that birds are often balls and balls are often birds."

Sure, but that's because we don't have experiments proving that, at least in a certain context, they are.

It also has a lot to do with the fact that birds and balls are things that we can perceive directly, as opposed to waves and particles which we can only infer the nature of based on their interactions with that which we can directly perceive.

And for whatever reason people confuse the interaction of that which we can perceive as being the same as our perceiving, which it is not.

(Mar 28 '13 at 00:54) anthony anthony's gravatar image

As for http://www.thekeyboard.org.uk/Quantum%20mechanics.htm

"One possible explanation...is that nothing is real until it has been observed." Umm, no, that's not possible. Better go with another explanation, of which there are many.

"The point is the experiment has proved Einstein wrong, faster than light speed, at least in the quantum world, is a reality." Okay. I don't think there's anything in a proper philosophy which says that FTL speed is impossible. Why are we clinging to the principle of locality at the quantum level?

(Mar 28 '13 at 01:12) anthony anthony's gravatar image

"The principle of Uncertainty fixed once for all the realisation that all knowledge is limited, that there is no such thing as absolute certainty." Umm, no, it didn't. In fact, that very statement is self-contradictory. Fixed once for all that nothing is certain?

You can't know the exact position and velocity of an electron at the same time therefore you can't know anything? Seriously?

"What quantum mechanics tell us is that nothing is real and that we cannot say anything about what things are doing when we are not looking at them." A good strawman, maybe, but not at all true.

(Mar 28 '13 at 01:16) anthony anthony's gravatar image
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Asked: Mar 13 '13 at 22:16

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Last updated: Mar 28 '13 at 01:19