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Thursday
Mar172011

Physics at the edge... of philosophy: Lecture 4 video

Lecture 4: What are philosophers and string theorists useful for? from Vatche Sahakian on Vimeo.

This lecture will be a conversation between philosophy and physics in a different way than the previous ones.

First, we will discuss what string theory is. It purports to be the ultimate unifying framework of the physical laws. This theory emerged as a response to several overwhelming puzzles that arise within traditional physics—the puzzles that suggest that the laws of physics we love and rely on are logically inconsistent; that they are incompatible with each other. In recent years string theory made a great deal of progress in understanding black holes, in cosmology, and particle physics. We will review these advances and present a simple, powerful, and yet preposterous story of what string theory is. We will also discuss the importance of experimental evidence as opposed to logical and conceptual consistency.

Next, we will consider whether or not philosophy is useful. In doing so, we will return to its origins in Ancient Greece, and in particular, to Plato and Aristotle, but also draw on ideas of a contemporary French philosopher Gilles Deleuze. We will also have to confront the question of what philosophy is, as well as what makes one a philosopher.

Finally, we will comment on the convergences and the differences between these two kinds of knowledge.

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