Stephen Hawking’s latest

In his The Grand Design Hawking seems to take pains to set the record straight on his view of creation — no need for a prime mover, no intelligent design, no anthropic principle. None of that surprises me, since arguments for prime movers are logically inconsistent, if there’s a design here Mickey Mouse could have done better, and I can’t make coherent head or tail of the anthropic principle. What did surprise me was Hawking’s trashing of Aristotle on a scale with Bishop Tempier’s. He berates him for applying rationality where he should have observed, a peculiarly Procrustean habit of philosophers. In the context of rejecting prime movers and teleological causes (like the anthropic principle and intelligent design) it’s not surprising that Hawking is critical of Aristotle, who relied on both. But it seems a bit extreme. At one point he even says, without any further comment, “Philosophy is dead.”

I’m an Aristotle fan, not for his physics, but for his logic. A good logician doesn’t necessarily make a good empirical scientist and philosophers have always been weak on knowledge. Their motto should be akin to “those who can’t do, teach” — “They who don’t know anything, philosophize.” Perfect for logic, a science without content.


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