Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Science Tells Us Nothing of "Value"

Here's some more on the basic idea that one cannot derive 'ought' (value) from 'is.'

Physicist Erwin Schrodinger (who, BTW, owned a cat) wrote:

"The scientific picture of the world around me is very deficient. It gives a lot of factual information, puts all our experience in a magnificently consistent order, but it is ghastly silent about all and sundry that is really near to our heart, that really matters to us. It cannot tell us a word about red and blue, bitter and sweet, physical pain and physical delight; it knows nothing of beautiful and ugly, good or bad, God and eternity. Science sometimes pretends to answer questions in these domains, but the answers are very often so silly that we are not inclined to take them seriously." (In Schrodinger and Roger Penrose, Nature and the Greeks)

Schrödinger's Cat: A cat, a flask of poison and a radioactive source are placed in a sealed box. If an internal monitor detects radioactivity, the flask is shattered, releasing the poison that kills the cat. The Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics implies that after a while, the cat is simultaneously alive and dead. Yet, when we look in the box, we see the cat either alive or dead, not both alive and dead.