George F. R. Ellis

Physicist George Ellis Knocks Physicists for Knocking Philosophy, Falsification, Free Will

John Horgan, Scientific American July 22, 2014

Part of Horgan's interview with Ellis:

Horgan: "Krauss, Stephen Hawking and Neil-deGrasse Tyson have been bashing philosophy as a waste of time. Do you agree?"

Ellis: "If they really believe this they should stop indulging in low-grade philosophy in their own writings. You cannot do physics of cosmology without an assumed philosophical basis. You can choose not to think about the basis: it will still be there as an unexamined foundation of what you do. The fact that you are unwilling to examine the philosophical foundations of what you do does not mean those foundations are not there; in just means they are unexamined."

This brings to mind one of my favorite quotes from G. K. Chesterton: "Philosophy is merely thought that has been thought out. .. But man has no alternative, except between being influenced by thought that has been thought out and being influenced by thought that has not been thought out."

Horgan: "You are a Christian, more specifically a Quaker. Does your faith have any effect on your scientific views, or vice versa?"

Ellis:"It may affect to some degree the topics I choose to tackle, but it cannot affect the science itself, which has its own logic that must be followed wherever it leads without fear or favour, within the domain of application of the relevant theories."

"My philosophical and religious views must of course take present-day science seriously, but in doing so (a) I distinguish very clearly between what is tested or testable science and what is not, (b) I make strenuous efforts to consider what aspects of reality can be comprehended by a strict scientific approach, and what lie outside the limits of mathematically based efforts to encapsulate aspects of the nature of what exists."

Print copy in Ellis file, RTB file.

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