Biology Magazine

Beautiful Objectivity

By Cris

Old Aristotleian habits die hard and the human penchant for bifurcating or othering is alive and well. In this handy primer on the distinctions between analytic and continental philosophy, we learn that “philosophers in one camp discount the work of those in the other simply because of their personal distaste for [analytic] symbolic logic or for elaborate [continental] literary and historical discussions.” Nietzsche, who asserted that philosophers are never disinterested and do the kind of philosophy which suits their psychology, would agree.

Beautiful Objectivity

In this piece on the distinctions between mainstream and fringe physicists, we something similar at work. One group thinks it is dealing in reality even though its basic assumptions rest on some mathematical sleights of hand which can’t be tested. The other group thinks this is hocum and searches for alternative realities. But perhaps the most important difference between them is personal: “beyond their divergent appetites for mathematics and willingness to shut up and calculate, physicists and fringers might be separated by something else quite basic—a different appreciation for what counts as beautiful.”

Whether talking about different approaches to philosophy or physics, I think Nietzsche was right. However wrapped, the ultimate justification for our preferred approach is what counts as beautiful.

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