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Reflections on Chapter 8 reading

Reflections on Chapter 8 reading

by Tony deLaubenfels -
Number of replies: 21

Post your reflections (observations, questions) on Chapter 8 here. Due by the start of class on Friday.


In reply to Tony deLaubenfels

Re: Reflections on Chapter 8 reading

by Georgia Gump -

Laplace's demon proves interesting - although I don't necessarily see the relevance of bringing up the concept of free will. The only things that care about this idea, whether or not it's an illusion, are humans themselves, which make up a relatively small portion of all possible things that could be governed by scientific laws. The author too moves on from this point to outline the goal of obtaining the intellect of "Laplace's Demon", but I wonder whether or not this free will argument will have more relevance down the road. 

In reply to Tony deLaubenfels

Re: Reflections on Chapter 8 reading

by Kurt Blankenheim -

 I thought it was interesting the section that talks about Newton's law F=MA because I had taken a course on engineering and we spent so much time learning about all the key aspects of his formula. It really becomes a useful formula when discussing average everyday mechanics and how it can help solve some great real world applications.

In reply to Tony deLaubenfels

Re: Reflections on Chapter 8 reading

by Caleb Wilson -

The author states that "some scientific problems-finding a cure for AIDS, predicting the path of a hurricane, or even forecasting next week's weather-still seem out of reach." In the future, if we develop more accurate data, stronger computers, and larger amounts of data to draw from, could we ever predict these scientific problems, or does chaos, randomness, and the butterfly effect permanently prevent scientists permanently from discovering an answer? 

In reply to Tony deLaubenfels

Re: Reflections on Chapter 8 reading

by Oliver Vale -

when asked about god by Napoleon Laplace responded "Sire, I had no need of that hypothesis" which i find interesting because of his ideas about free will or lack there of is interesting. Laplace did not place a god in his hypothesis about free will, even though a lot of the times if someone doesn't believe in free will they believe that because of a god. i find that quite interesting, and am wondering what other people thought of this idea. 

In reply to Tony deLaubenfels

Re: Reflections on Chapter 8 reading

by Jessica Matthews -

I think Feldman makes a great example about "if he should eat a cookie or continue writing this paragraph" and how the future can be altered, but it possibly could be an illusion. Laplace issues he brings about is has the future already been written. This made me really think because if the future could be predicted science and life its self would change the world. We would solve all world problems, but my question is, would the world become a utopia by predicting the future or would there be chaos?

In reply to Tony deLaubenfels

Re: Reflections on Chapter 8 reading

by Joe Keller -
When I was reading about Laplaces demon, I made connections to the perceptive abilities of people and the intellect that would be needed to deconstruct the universe. I came to the conclusion that people would never have a complete perception to develop such anything close to Laplaces' demon.
In reply to Tony deLaubenfels

Re: Reflections on Chapter 8 reading

by Matt Stivland -

I feel the concept of Laplace's Demon is very important to philosophy. While it may not hold true in every degree (taking into account chaos and whatnot), it seems to be valid in some, especially on the human scale. I think it's very interesting to consider the understanding that everything about human physiology (and ergo, psychology) is dependent on a long series of intricate, thermodynamically favorable chemical reactions. When one thinks about this and Laplace's Demon, it really (at least for me) seems obvious that through the Demon, everything about what we do can be perfectly predicted.

In reply to Tony deLaubenfels

Re: Reflections on Chapter 8 reading

by Owen Sherman -

I found it interesting that iterated functions, which seem very basic, can be applied to such complex and large scale ideas and theories like newtons laws, and may be applied to predict future occurrences, as Laplace states, though not yet very far into the future. Iterated functions are used in many important equations.

In reply to Tony deLaubenfels

Re: Reflections on Chapter 8 reading

by Ici Collier -

I found it interesting that the author made a statement saying, "almost all of the orbits we have encountered have either tended toward a fixed point, or flown to infinity," which leads me to question whether all the numbers that we encounter are in someway heading towards infinity? In addition to, the idea of weather predictions being unreliable was also interesting how mathematics is related. The author talks about the idea of using mathematics and accelerated computers to get better measurements of the current atmosphere would help us. We would be able to accurately predict the weather changes while also using Laplace's demon idea of a person being able to predict the future, based on "the initial position of all the objects"(Laplace, 2009). 

In reply to Tony deLaubenfels

Re: Reflections on Chapter 8 reading

by Lizz Chapman -

Overall I thought the most interesting part of chapter 8 was the explanation of how everything is related and eventually comes full circle. Everything in the world and the universe as we know it is made up of laws and concepts and theories and as he explains in the first few sections, the mathematical and scientific equations are very similar even though they consist of a different idea. I especially liked section 8.3 and how it said that if one were to know the science and mathematics and every other "law" or whatnot that existed within our universe they would be able to predict and see all that the universe was, is and will be. That again ties into the concepts of everything somehow being relative to one another. The only setback, as they mentioned was the freewill of human beings and having the argument of whether or not we could truly be predicted and having our futures already written or if we were to remain a mystery and an abstract, unpredictable part of the world. 

In reply to Tony deLaubenfels

Re: Reflections on Chapter 8 reading

by Mickey Hines -

This reading was interesting. For the beginning of the reading with talking about Newton, I knew some of the stuff from what I had learned before. When I continued to read and came upon Laplace's Demon it made me think a little harder. I also like how the reading brought in other articles that you shouldld read as well. 

In reply to Tony deLaubenfels

Re: Reflections on Chapter 8 reading

by Cassie Gill -

Science, and mathematics, attempt to reach the same level of knowledge as Laplace's demon, however such an idea is unattainable. Therefore, Laplace's demon is a fixed point of conceptual knowledge in our universe and is asymptotic and unachievable. Applying math and it's corresponding logic to philosophy and the functionality of the universe is fascinating but how is mathematics the language of philosophy, as Galileo puts it, in terms of morality and the functions of humans. Maybe determinism is applicable to matter and everything within the 4 dimensions, however morality exists outside our physical world that can be governed by Newton's laws. Philosophy attempts to explain the universe we live in through non-doctrine or religiously affiliated logic, and although mathematics is a type of doctrine-less logic, it can't qualify for ethics and therefore can't explain a hugely pertinent topic in philosophy, so how can it be the language of it?

In reply to Tony deLaubenfels

Re: Reflections on Chapter 8 reading

by Eliza Thompson -
I think it's a cool idea that modern science is in essence an attempt to become Laplace's demon, or at least possess that level of intelligence; but I also believe that one of the most important reasons to study science, or any discipline, is learning for learning's sake. Feldman also states that Laplace's demon can probably never become a reality because of the first and third things necessary (knowing the current state of the universe and having the computational ability to make accurate predictions), which implies that science has achieved the second item. However, I think it's naïve to assume that we fully understand the laws governing our world and universe.
In reply to Tony deLaubenfels

Re: Reflections on Chapter 8 reading

by Leena Kaye -

Chapter 8 provides a brief history of significant contributions to the world of math and science. The explanation of Newton's laws and their continued importance throughout history leads the reader to apply an understanding of mathematic laws to current (and relevant) scientific issues. Even more so, the duality of optimism in science plays an important role in the way society addresses global crises today. With the advanced technology of the 21st century, the use of mathematic laws and formulas have been key in addressing epidemics. However, the long lasting presence of mathematics combined with the unsolved issues of global and environmental heath allow for pessimism and doubt. 

In reply to Tony deLaubenfels

Re: Reflections on Chapter 8 reading

by Rachel Wood -

I like Newton's theories for they explain what will happen without giving an definitive answer to what will be. The motion he defines as a change caused by a force, is a change that I think is the universal law of existence. With no motion or change, there would be no life, no universe. Newton's observation that things are in a constant state of movement until acted upon by another force (whether it be my hand or gravity, etc) indicates that everything in the known universe is moving. Newton's views remind me of integrations. Its deterministic nature, where input determines the output, is something that I can easily wrap my head around. Galileo quote made me think of the Matrix movies. Can the world be written in numbers? Can the complexities of life be boiled down to the universal language of 1s, 2s, 3s, etc? If humans were able to obtain the capacities to know "all forces that set nature in motion, and all positions of all items" (pg 70) could we become omnipotent? Similar to Galileo's notion that if we knew how all things worked and where all things were at any given moment we could predict the future outcomes, the Norse culture of medieval Scandinavia also believed that the acquisition of knowledge can lead to wisdom about the outcomes of life, and their universe. Therefore, one should always strive for ultimate knowledge for with that comes wisdom and power. A qualifying note to the Norse ideals is that despite knowing what will happen, there is freedom and variation in how people and events get to the ends/results/outcomes. This relates to the readings in that it reflects the complexities and seemingly randomness of the universe. The many forms of math that have branched off into their own fields of study, can allude to the fact that the universe, life, and the existence of things is too complex for a single human brain to comprehend. Maybe, if we could someday access more parts of our brain at once and also able to telepathically connect with other brains, we could come closer to not only understanding but predicting the existences of life and ways of the universe.

In reply to Tony deLaubenfels

Re: Reflections on Chapter 8 reading

by Marcelo Tanon -

To me chapter 8 was an interesting read because of the way that it first talks about how Newton's law is associated with everything in almost every type of science. Second because of Laplace's demon which states that if we know every calculation of every force than we can predict the future. This was interesting because of the fact that how some of the things that we calculate now a days can be predicted in the future like he says. For example the weather, even though weatherman sometimes get it wrong they still have been mostly right about the situation. But there will be no way that we can come close to finding a calculation on every single movement in the universe.

In reply to Tony deLaubenfels

Re: Reflections on Chapter 8 reading

by Caitlin McVay -

After reading chapter 8 in the text I was thinking a lot about free will and the idea expressed that free will may not really be all that "free." For the short time I have been thinking about it I believe the idea that free will isn't all that free may be quite accurate. However I don't believe it is completely an illusion. In physics an object that is the same the exact same as another object in all qualities will be pushed to the same exact distance with the same force used to push those objects. Humans don't work like that in regards to the future being our present before our eyes. We can start down the exact same path, be given the exact same resources,  have the same capabilities in every aspect and still end up in a different future. Why? Free will. 

In reply to Tony deLaubenfels

Re: Reflections on Chapter 8 reading

by Jose Reyes -
what i found interesting in chapter 8 was section 8.3 and how it talks about the future  becoming predictable only if we understand the laws and forces of nature and can accurately measure them. 

my question would be if these measurements include forces that can't be measured or predicted. An example i can think of is a car starting from point A trying to reach point B which is 120 miles away going at a speed of 60 miles per hour. We can calculate how long the car would take to reach point B fairly easy thus making the future of the car predictable but what if the car isn't travelling at a constant speed of 60 mph. what if the car encounters traffic, a flat tire or an accident, can we measure and calculate these factors? how predictable is the future? does the future become predictable in a perfect world or a world that is never changing but constant?

In reply to Tony deLaubenfels

Re: Reflections on Chapter 8 reading

by Brian Wyzgowski -
On page 71 he talks about what he calls the a naive optimism in man's ability to understand the nature of the universe among enlightenment  while today through superior modern knowledge has checked out expectations of such higher understanding. Furthermore he points out that such things our failure to cure AIDS, the many genociedes and wars of the 20th century along with are inability to accurately predict long term weather patterns to be a possible sign of mans inability to completely understand the universe through the advancement of science. Firstly, I feel it is egotistical to call enlightment thinkers naive in their goals to completely understand the universe, for those who proceed them made such arguments that all that can be discovered has been discovered. Furthermore our inability to cure AIDS thus far is hardly a poor reclection on the advancement of medicine considering how far it has already come and continues to advance. While finally mans arguable nature of vilolence and war hardly speaks against mans ability to advance science, for indeed war has often spurred the advancement of technology throughout history. Thus to look down upon those before us and doubt mankinds ability in the future is to is to fall in the fallacy of believeing that one's own generation has truly reached the pinnacle.
In reply to Tony deLaubenfels

Re: Reflections on Chapter 8 reading

by Cheyenne Minot -

Sorry for the late response I forgot to post the response , even though it wont count I am intrigued by Laplace's passage on how the present state of the universe may have a effect on the future and past.

In reply to Tony deLaubenfels

Re: Reflections on Chapter 8 reading

by Miranda Donnellan -

I think it's a very interesting thought to consider the fact that planetary rotation and the movement of objects in space are so definitive, to the point we can create calendars, clocks, etc. based off their movements, yet we consider our actions as humans to be choices. If we weren't sentient, would we even notice? If you actually look at it as if there is an defined path for every single action and choice doesn't exist beyond our perception, does that mean our creation of the illusion of choice was also predetermined? It's a very interesting philosophical pairing with math and math history.