Science has no history

Why would a non-scientist be interested about question of whether science has history or not and about other similar topics presented in this blog?

I’m sure that all my readers sooner or later face this question and I’m sure that many stop reading this blog for they take it as something quite probably interesting but definitely not practical and even less important for their lives. Since the only intention of this blog is to enable each individual for better orientation in his environment regardless her education and profession, such misunderstandings lie hard on me. It might sound as a bit autistic, but one that tries to act and react in this world as sustainable as possible, has to understand the complexity of environment as a whole and each interacted element at the same time. Each individual takes different role from moment to moment, but that does not mean that only issues of surgery are important for surgeon or issues of communication for communication manager. One has to understand as much as possible all possible details from all aspects of life since they are all deeply interwoven. Everything is important and since we cannot know everything in principle, “everything” has to be prioritized horizontally. Such vertical prioritization is called philosophy. And philosophy that is not practical philosophy (serving us to be more sustainable in living) is also not philosophy.

This blog is all about such prioritization.

Ahistorical nature of science

Although the role of science and rationality is extremely overrated from times of Enlightenment on, we cannot not to relate to most important scientific issues, values but also particular cases. Not for they are true by scientific definition, but for they shape important part of our meme-complex environment even if they are not true. Perception is reality and memetic fake is as powerful fact as memetic truth. One that does not relate to science is like explorer not relating to snakes in rainforest for he is interested in birds only. Such explorer soon finds himself dead as a consequence of snake bite.

If I say that science has no history that does not mean, that Galileo preceded Newton and Newton Einstein in time. That should be unquestionable notwithstanding theories that time is an illusion. What I want to say with the title of this blog is, that scientific meme-complex (a sack of all scientific ideas, concepts, theories and so on) is ahistorical.

What we sometimes see as one philosopher (who is in fact scientist as much as scientist cannot but be philosopher) opposing another and declaring himself as an advancement in comparison to previous one is in fact nothing else but multiverse of bubbling philosophical correlates. What we observe on its surface as conflicting scientific phenomena, trends and individuals are nothing but emergent properties of an integral meme space as much as physical (time-space) reality emerges on multiverse boundaries.

Let me give an example. This is a part of a New Scientist article (4 June 2011, Theory of everything from Michael Duff, ) :

In 1998, Juan Maldacena, also of the Institute for Advanced Study, used membranes to explore what would happen inside a hypothetical universe with many dimensions of space and gravity. He showed that everything happening on the boundary of such a universe is equivalent to everything happening inside it: ordinary particles interacting on the boundary’s surface correspond precisely to how membranes interact on the interior. When two mathematical approaches describe the same physics in this way, we call it a duality.

Who would not recognize Plato behind these words? Were they not in fact written almost 2500 years ago? What happens on the surface (shadow in the cave) is just a reflection of events outside as real. Shadows are reality for us (perception is reality) while the real outside is unreachable directly. Plato’s shadow is nothing but emergent property – and duality in Maldacena theory is nothing but dualism that was introduced by Plato.

Unbreakable duality

This story is not important only for it clearly shows ahistorical nature of science and its memetic nature. It is also a symptom of a constant and everlasting struggle against dualism. From this ahistorical perspective we have to understand this struggle as utterly futile. But as utterly futile this struggle proves to be extremely important for it forces new and new insights into the nature of nature.

The underlying centuries long struggle to develop a unifying theory of everything that would disapprove a need for dualism produced many discoveries and many important theories and concepts but one: unifying theory. It is exactly this oscillation that is fueled by dualistic nature of our nature that is producing results. Oscillation between unsatisfying dualism and unreachable monism; oscillation between general relativity and quantum mechanics; oscillation between nature and nurture; between Lamarckian heritability of acquired characteristics and Darwinian genetic heredity; between memetics and genetics; and so on, is producing new insights – but each insight is as far from unifying theory as previous one.

Andrej Drapal