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Are the Sciences
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Are the Sciences reducible to Physics?
Most assuredly a remnant of the nineteenth century scientific successes within the realms of mechanisation, predictive prowess, and the general development of scientific knowledge, it was often taught that if all the sciences were as The Tree of Knowledge, then the discipline of Physics would surely be its trunk. Associated with this concept, and persistent in various flavours of scientific philosophy, was the reductionist assertion that biology is reducible to chemistry, and chemistry to physics - that all is thus reducible to physics. The following responses comment upon this: Michael Weiss
wrote: Well, here is a quote from an article by Howard Georgi, whose is best known for his work in theoretical particle physics, one of the more `fundamental' fields: Biology is not a branch of physics. ...the statement, "chemistry and biology are branches of physics" is not true. It *is* true that in chemistry and biology one does not encounter any new physical principles. But the systems on which the old principles act differ in such a drastic and qualitative way in the different fields that it is simply not *useful* to regard one as a branch of another. Indeed, the systems are so different that `principles' of new kinds must be developed, and it is the principles which are inherently chemical or biological which are important. --Howard Georgi, "Effective quantum field theories", in _The New Physics_, ed. Paul Davies ========================================================================================= "Agustín Sánchez" wrote: A drunk was looking and looking at the floor, under a streetlight. Another man asked him: "What are you doing?" "I lost my key, and I try to find it, ... hip!" The man try to help: "Did you lose it here? "No, it was there, but here is more enlightened." Your asking is a great question within the Philosophy of Science (the Theory of Knowledge). It is called Reductionism versus Holism. Reductionists believes that all phenomena in the universe can be described in terms of physical laws (why not in terms of mathematical equations?). Holists argues that each level of complexity in the matter has some own laws that can not be reduced to a "deeper" level. Holism do not deny the need of trying to do i:. The true progress in natural sciences comes from searching, as far as possible, explanations to the phenomena based in the "lower level" science. So, biology became a modern science when the biologists begun to spoke about organic chemistry. Chemistry became a modern science when chemists were able to find the physical laws of the chemical reaction. So reductionism is good. But it is no so easy. Give Biology as an example: Of course, life, (or thought), consists in some chemical compounds and reactions, that can described, at last, by physical laws. But Biology and Psychology have some inner questions, problems, and methods, that can not be reduced to physics. Just think about this: Physics only solves with some degree of exactness the problem of two interacting bodies, if they can be viewed as points! How dare physicists to describe all phenomena in the world? Physics only can search under the light of its candle. But there is a lot of things over there, in the dark. =========================================================================================