I want to start with a general question about the relationship between philosophy and physics. There has been a fair amount of sniping between these two disciplines over the past few years. Why the sudden, public antagonism between philosophy and physics?
Krauss: That’s a good question. I expect it’s because physics has encroached on philosophy. Philosophy used to be a field that had content, but then “natural philosophy” became physics, and physics has only continued to make inroads. Every time there’s a leap in physics, it encroaches on these areas that philosophers have carefully sequestered away to themselves, and so then you have this natural resentment on the part of philosophers. This sense that somehow physicists, because they can’t spell the word “philosophy,” aren’t justified in talking about these things, or haven’t thought deeply about them—
Is that really a claim that you see often?
Krauss: It is. Philosophy is a field that, unfortunately, reminds me of that old Woody Allen joke, “those that can’t do, teach, and those that can’t teach, teach gym.” And the worst part of philosophy is the philosophy of science; the only people, as far as I can tell, that read work by philosophers of science are other philosophers of science. It has no impact on physics what so ever, and I doubt that other philosophers read it because it’s fairly technical. And so it’s really hard to understand what justifies it. And so I’d say that this tension occurs because people in philosophy feel threatened, and they have every right to feel threatened, because science progresses and philosophy doesn’t.
For those who are familiar with theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss, you know that he likes to be provocative. he does not walk back his criticisms of philosophy further on in the interview as much as stops being facetious and addresses some of the positive aspects of philosophy such as moral theory, in this era that largely means applied morality via politics and public policy. I found it interesting that Krauss gives literature a lot of credit in terms of descriptive philosophy, though he includes logic – which when done well is just math. There is a somewhat esoteric aspect to asking about what is true, what is knowledge, what does the universe exists instead of nothingness and how do we know what we know. What does that have to do with the price of bread and milk. Yet wheat is grown on scientific principles, and while a wheat farmer can work up an ulcer worrying and hoping, real physical phenomenon make the wheat grow or succumb to bad weather, drought or disease. What we know and how we figure out what the truth is always makes its way into the decisions we make at the dinner table, and the offices of people with more money and power than the average person.
Romney bashes Obama for “making us like Europe.” But he’s the one pushing failed European austerity measures. Because of supply-side economics the U.S. has sunk into conditions where the modern equivalent of dukes and queens have most of the power and the majority of people are modern serfs. Conservatives admit this in a round about way when they discuss the safety net and unemployment. They claim that the hardest workers have just naturally risen to the top. While everyone below is leaching off the wealthy – who are all virtuous and enterprising. The U.S. is thus slanted in the economic and political dynamic of old Europe because nature intended it that way.
Via Seabed Habitats -one of the WordPress neighbors – The Secret Life of Plankton