Sabine the philosopher

In this article Learned Doctor Sabine Hossenfelder compares academic philosophers with academic physicists. She assumes secretly a cartoon stereotype of philosopher invented by Newton and she secretly assumes an idealized image of physicists as perfect scientists who never ever define a symbol in their equations multiple times. (The opposite is actually true. I dare Sabine to come up with one legal physics equation where all symbols are uniquely defined.) Then she arrogantly attacks philosophers as idiots who argue with “empty words”. Sabine’s problem is really with philosophers who dare to write on subjects physicists claim ownership. We are supposed to believe that this academic turf wars between two types of Learned Doctors is a scientific issue.

This stereotype of philosopher as scholastic sophist was invented by Newton. Why did Newton define philosophers as anti-science even though he himself was a Doctor of Philosophy? Well, of course, to define himself and his followers as true scientists.

How did Newton define philosophers?

When Newton entered Cambridge as a student the place like all educational institutions in Europe was ruled by Doctors of Theology. Their professional cousin, Doctor of Philosophy who were known as Peripatetics, were not as powerful as they are today. Sabine has in mind this cartoon stereotype of hair splitting peripatetic philosopher and uses it as her straw man. She is referring to a cartoon stereotype of philosopher invented by Newton and his disciples to glorify themselves and their profession. Sabine is trying to sell us this physics propaganda as history.

What is the historical fact?

Newton successfully combined philosophy and mathematics for the first time under the cover of the same book and created a new academic field called natural philosophy which morphed into physics in the nineteenth century.

Newton and his disciples and his successors are Doctors of Philosophy by profession. These Learned Doctors are nothing more than corrupt academics and professional sophists. They don’t even deserve the title of philosopher. Physicists are more like slick lawyers than philosophers.

After Newton’s successful coup to replace Aristotle with himself as the new master of the European scholasticism they defined Doctors of Philosophy they supposedly replaced during the scientific revolution as the anti-science who spent their time writing commentary with empty words.

And Newtonians defined themselves as scientists who did not deal with casuistry and sophistry but worked only with quantities expressed in mathematical symbols. We all know this claim is bogus. Newton and his disciples defined themselves as true scientists who modeled nature with the precise language of mathematics while continuing their philosophizing by using the authority of mathematics.

Today, these Learned Doctors corrupted even mathematics and turned it into their vehicle of sophistry and casuistry. Sabine is still trying to fool us into believing that academic physics is a quantitative science.

Newton also initiated the academic turf wars between DOT and DOP because Newtonians grabbed the right to philosophize on cosmogony and cosmology from the ownership of DOT. Today your creation mythologies are designed and served to you by DOP. The more important academic turf war is not between philosophers and physicists but between DOP and DOT. These two types of Learned Doctors are still fighting the same war with each other for the soul of recruits to fill their classrooms. In our time, mostly due to Newton’s authority and because Newtonism has become the state religion, education is ruled by DOP. Don’t forget DOP and DOT are teachers, they both want to increase their market share.

Sabine Hossenfelder like all academic physicists is a philosopher by profession and practices philosophy with the language of mathematics. She is the modern representative of scholastic philosopher Newton branded as the anti-science.

Newton and his disciples are the Doctors of Philosophy; they have always been DOP; DOP are philosophical sophists who spend their time inventing creation mythologies for the rulers who pay them through grants channeled through schools where DOPs are perched. That’s why Sabine is still trying to sell us the same physics propaganda she learned from Newton. She thinks that by insulting philosophers as wordsmiths she is elevating herself and physicists to the level of scientists. DOP invented the art of sophistry and doublespeak and physicists are DOP; physicists are expert sophists. Sabine and academic physicists are philosophical sophists and charlatans doing business as physicists. Not to mention that physicists build all the mass destruction weapons in the world. What a despicable people these physicists are!

Acquired v. revealed knowledge

I saw this nice metaphor for science, religion and philosophy in an old blog. Since comments have been closed I am posting my comment here.

But luckily, religion isn’t the only game in town. Religion is basically dressed-up philosophy with some truth claims that would be better off in the hands of science. Basically, we have these three contenders for the understanding of reality:

In the red corner, religion. Age: Unknown, but probably 10 000+ years. Weight: the majority of humanity combined. This guy’s the reigning champion, and also the crowd’s favorite. Hear their cheers! Oh joy, this is gonna be fun!

In the blue corner, science. Age: some hundred years, but with thousands of years of ancestry. Weight: the majority of the highly educated parts of humanity, which unfortunately is significantly less than the majority of humanity. The hot, new contender. The professors are screaming with joy at science’s entrance.

Hanging from the ceiling, half-hidden by the shadows, philosophy. Age: at least 2500 years. Weight: not enough to compete in this weight class, that’s for sure. Its supporters are intellectuals of all kinds.

I think it would be helpful to include besides Age and Weight, the Owner and Manager of religion and science. Then your list gets even more interesting and reveals an insight relevant to our times.

Age: 10,000+ years
Weight: Humanity
Owner: Rulers of humanity
Manager: A professional class who collaborates with rulers against humanity. This class was once called the priestly scribes today they are called professional Doctors of Theology or Doctors of Philosophy.

Age: 10,000+ years
Weight: Humanity
Owner: Rulers of humanity
Manager: A professional class who collaborate with rulers against humanity. This class was once called the priestly scribes today they are called professional Doctors of Theology or Doctors of Philosophy.

Acquired v. revealed knowledge

The point is that we need to separate the method of science as you describe in your article and the corporation that owns science.

We might as well say “the corporation that owns knowledge” because what we call science today has always referred to acquired knowledge as opposed to revealed knowledge.

Similarly, we should not confuse belief of an individual with the corporation that owns and markets religion as a branded faith.

Science is as old as humanity

I also would like to note that your definition of science as the observation of a repetition is as old as humanity. Every human being comes equipped with this ability. In our daily lives we are all scientists.

Only when observations are so complex and remote and unexpected and apparently random that we give up and attribute its cause to a deity or an unknown entity. Rulers exploit this fact and use it to program humans by scaring them with things like comets and thunder and claiming to explain them with mythology or religion.

Most of science is irrelevant

Unless a repetition touches the daily life of a human individual she would not really care what its explanation is. There is too much in nature and in society for one individual to question them all. Some we just ignore. Others we take the word of professionals. A few we question for ourselves. This does not mean that people who go along with the religious explanation or the mythological explanation are stupid.

Believe and be happy

Each society has its standard templates that members are told to believe. These standards are defined as absolute true templates. Of course they are not. But some people think they are being so intelligent when they realize that social standards are not absolute and they try to change them. They suffer. People who believe in them without question live comfortable lives. I don’t see anything wrong with that.

Scientific reasoning is not the opposite of religion. Both revealed knowledge and acquired knowledge has its place.

Proper Lorentz transformations

In this article Sabine Hossenfelder describes Lorentz transformations in an alternative fashion. Instead of the usual “rockets and spaceships sending light signals” she offers a more mathematical approach. Besides that the article reveals

1) how physicists reason and

2) how physics itself is the greatest obstacle to clear reasoning.

Let’s take a look.

In the introduction she states that Lorentz transformations of Special Relativity

allow observers with different constant velocities to compare their measurements.

This may be the legal physics interpretation but in reality Lorentz transformations is a mathematical formulation that keeps lengths and angles constant as one coordinate convention is transformed into another coordinate convention. It’s all about mathematics of transformations of coordinate systems. In any case this is not the real reason why Special Relativity is so popular with physicists. Lorentz transformations exist not to allow imaginary observers to compare measurements but to allow scholastic doctors of physics to write commentary on the two oldest scholastic forms called space and time. And also on their relatively new form called spacetime.

The article is a good proof of how physicists use mathematical symbolism to discuss old philosophical forms. Instead of Latin they use Mathematin.

There are six sections in the article:

1. Introduction
2. Tensors
3. Scalar product
4. Lorentz transformations
5. Kinematics
6. What is c?

Notice that sections 2 through 5 are about mathematical methods. They constitute a good introduction to linear algebra. Sections 2 through 5 have zero physics content.

More generally, the physics rubric Special Relativity contains two distinct and independent sections:

1. mathematics
2. philosophy

Physicists call writing philosophical commentary on perennial scholastic forms by associating them with mathematical symbolism physics. In this particular case physics consists of writing commentary on philosophical properties of space and time in the language of Mathematin. We clearly see how this is done in this article.

The section called kinematics pretends to include some semantic physics because the words “particle” and “time” are mentioned. Note that physicists first corrupted the meaning of the word time by merging it into one of the coordinate axes but then realized that they still needed that original time that they’ve corrupted so they called the same original time that they’ve corrupted “proper time.”

  • time t becomes proper time tau

Therefore, Proper Lorentz Transformations:

Laws of physics are invariant under transformation of physical quantities from one alphabet to another.

Incredible polemics. So section 5 is more properly called Polemics, not Kinematics.

If we only read the introduction and jump to section 6 called “what is c” we wouldn’t lose any physical substance that may be present in the article. Why? Because mathematics of Special Relativity exists solely to witness philosophical commentary.

What is c? is a question which is identical to the question What is meter?

What is c? == What is meter?

What is meter? is not a deeply philosophical question. In fact it has no philosophical content.

  • What is a conventional unit? is not a fundamental physical question.

A conventional unit is a definition. There is nothing to debate or comment on a definition of a unit. If you don’t like the unit meter please go ahead and use another unit of length, such as inches, or go ahead and use any unit you please to define.

Meter is defined by the speed of light:

As explained in the article

since time has different units than length, to be able to describe space and time as elements of one space-time we have to multiply time by a constant of dimension length/time, i.e. a velocity.

Physicists multiply c = m/s with s to make it one of the coordinates


Note how physicists confuse themselves because they’ve reified meter and second into philosophical space and philosophical time.

Here’s how the authority of mathematics is used to justify philosophical ideology:

However, note that in the derivation that got us here, there was no mentioning of light whatsoever.

Indeed. c as the speed of light is a non-functioning vestige of Einsteinian philosophy that was turned into a cargo cult fetish by physicists. I am pleased to see that there is at least one physicist with guts to question old SR dogma without fearing that she will be dubbed a crackpot. She is going in the right direction toward realizing that c is a physics fetish.

But a priori, arguing from symmetry principles in Minkowski-space as I did here, the constant c has nothing to do with light.

But, as yet she does not realize that c is just a conventional unit. This unit has been reified by physicists so long ago that today’s physicists no longer see it as a conventional unit.

Btw, note that c is indeed a constant. If you want to fiddle around with that, you’ll have to mess up at least one step in this derivation.

c is a constant because it is kept constant. It is kept constant because it is a conventional unit. It’s conventional because everyone agreed that it is a conventional unit. It is officially conventional because NIST officially defined meter in terms of the speed of light.

All the philosophical cargo cult baggage dumped by Einstein on c, time and space can be eliminated from physics. And I believe that Sabine Hossenfelder is in a good position to question these old physical dogma.