Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Is this true?

Rate this topic


Recommended Posts

“Don’t tell me it’s impossible; tell me you can’t do it. Tell me it’s never been done… the only things we really know are Maxwell’s equations, the three laws of Newton, the two postulates of relativity, and the periodic table. That’s all we know that’s true. All the rest are man’s laws.” – Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway and recipient of the National Medal of Technology and Lemelson-MIT Prize.

This quote really struck me. It really got me wondering if this is true? I presume he is talking of Physics and Chemistry. Is everything else, except these things he mentions, we know theories we ourselves have developed with our own experience and thought?

Edited by Superman123
Link to post
Share on other sites

The quote looks pretty selective. What was omitted?

As to even physics and chemistry, the theories were developed in conjunction with man's experience and thought. The Logical Leap by David Harriman illustrates the essentials of this process using examples from both physics and chemistry.

Edited by dream_weaver
Link to post
Share on other sites

NO! First off, science is theory... Everything that is important or worthwhile is theoretical. Read up on the philosophy of science if you are interest. Anyways these things that are claimed to be know as fact are actually theoretical. We cannot directly observe atoms, they are theoretical (though atomic theory is very sound and plausible, it is still by nature theoretical). We develop theories based on observed reality. There are ways to evaluate the plausibility of these theories, but to accept theories to explain reality is not contradictory to embrassing reality.

Link to post
Share on other sites

“Don’t tell me it’s impossible; tell me you can’t do it. Tell me it’s never been done… the only things we really know are Maxwell’s equations, the three laws of Newton, the two postulates of relativity, and the periodic table. That’s all we know that’s true. All the rest are man’s laws.” – Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway and recipient of the National Medal of Technology and Lemelson-MIT Prize.

I wonder what distinction he is trying to make. He refers to Maxwell's laws, those are a man's laws but somehow those are different from Kepler's laws of planetary motion.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think he's trying to emphasis or underscore the "Don't tell me anything is impossible; tell me you can't do it. Tell me it's never been done." (Just don't tell me it is impossible.)

Newton, and the periodic table are a couple of feats of doing in history that many may have thought were impossible. The refutation is Newton's laws and the periodic table.

As to not be certain of anything in scientific thinking, Both Newton's laws and the periodic table provide testimony to the contrary.

Edited by dream_weaver
Link to post
Share on other sites

@dream_weaver,

A rational skeptic told me that he is not mentioning that Quantum Mechanics. It is one of the most thoroughly tested theories around and that he thinks that this quote is a hankering back to the Renaissance Man and an oversimplified view of science.

I do think that I agree. He is rejecting hard earned knowledge and trying to say we do not know much. Isn't this cynicism? Then he wants to poor syrup on it all by implying we can do anything because we know so little.

It is interesting. These things are motivating me to read up more about it.

I really want to study up Occam's razor and the Philosophy of Science. I think wiki is the best but sometimes their explanations can sometimes become a bit dull. I will see what my local library has.

Edited by Superman123
Link to post
Share on other sites

I suspect there is a metaphysical premise lurking behind the quote, that only certain basic and fundamental facts have a real existence while everything else is an effect or illusion and so only those fundamental things are able to be true. It is a metaphysical hierarchy theory.

Occam's Razor is not sound because it is not necessary for things to be simple to be true.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...