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What's the value of astronomy?

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What's the value in studying distant stars, planets, galaxies, etc. given that we will never be able to travel to or communicate with whoever may live in those places? To me it's just interesting to sit here and ponder the scale of it all, i.e. the galaxies in this picture look so close you should be able to just hop from one to another, but the distance between them is so vast you couldn't make it from one to the next if you moved at the speed of light and lived for thousands years. Is there value in having your mind blown just for the f*** of it?
 
Edited by Asker of Questions
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When purported values are contradictory it is safe to say some or one of them is not a value.

Here we have a situation where there is a form of pleasure, and intellectual challenge, perhaps you could call it a hobby (I assume you are not an astronomer by profession), and importantly the subject of interest is reality itself, the hobby being understanding and gaining knowledge of an aspect of that reality.

Without debating the particulars, knowledge of reality always has at least some possibility of value even if one cannot understand how to use it at the time, this combined with the enjoyment of obtaining the knowledge leads to little inconsistency.

As long as you remember to pursue other values in order to sustain your life, contemplation of the wonders of actual reality is not a vice.

 

What direct value today's astronomy, physics, and astrophysics, may have to your decendants millennia from now and what wonders of technology and exploration they will produce due to the advances made now, and whether you care about that now... are hypothetical and very personal issues.  Certainly all new knowledge is built upon prior knowledge and the knowledge of today by definition is what will help to advance knowledge in the future.  If you love your decendants enough perhaps pondering their hypothetical future is a value to you now.

Edited by StrictlyLogical
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  • 5 years later...

The easy answer is that it does not need to have any other justification than that it makes your life better. If you find life-affirming enjoyment in the discovery and understanding then that is all that is required.

On a deeper level, consider the simple fact that a modest telescope like a 4-inch refractor or a 5-inch reflector, even a 70mm National Geographic "department store" telescope will reveal that many stars perceived as solitary objects to the naked eye are pairs and multiples. For thousands of years - even 200 years after Galileo - we always assumed that the stars were individual objects, more-or-less randomly distributed. You can find the truth for yourself if you care to invest in the instrument and invest your time.

I started another discussion on this here that garnered some response.

https://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?/topic/34192-any-other-astronomers-here/

And I posted this:
https://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?/topic/34132-the-jupiter-saturn-conjunction-of-2020/

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On 9/29/2015 at 10:30 AM, StrictlyLogical said:

What direct value today's astronomy, physics, and astrophysics, may have to your decendants millennia from now and what wonders of technology and exploration they will produce due to the advances made now, and whether you care about that now... are hypothetical and very personal issues.  

It can be the difference between life and death here and now if you are ever caught outside the city with a failed vehicle. Which way is north? 

One of the direct applications of astronomy in the 18th and 19th centuries was establishing local lines of latitude and longitude in order to draw the borders on maps. Here and now, any certified training in surveying for real estate begins with knowing how to establish your local position without a pre-existing map.

Again, the practical applications are secondary to your own eudaimonic gains. All of these arguments apply also to that other easy hobbyist toy, the microcope. Have you ever seen your own cells? If you think it does not matter, read about Do-it-Yourself genomic hobbyists who pursue their own treatments. (Biohackers reviewed on my blog here https://necessaryfacts.blogspot.com/2012/10/biohackers.html )

 

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Professional astronomy of the past led to discovery of mathematics that was useful not only for insight and understanding of astronomical phenomena then being explored, but useful later in other science and technology to this day. Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel

(Celestial Mechanics and the Development of Mathematics - begin at five minutes- and applications, e.g., getting to the moon using less fuel, less money)

Edited by Boydstun
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