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by Michael Egnor
Physicist Stephen Hawking tells Google that "Philosophy is dead." An article in the Telegraph recounts:
Speaking to Google's Zeitgeist Conference in Hertfordshire, the author of 'A Brief History of Time' said that fundamental questions about the nature of the universe could not be resolved without hard data such as that currently being derived from the Large Hadron Collider and space research. "Most of us don't worry about these questions most of the time. But almost all of us must sometimes wonder: Why are we here? Where do we come from? Traditionally, these are questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead," he said. "Philosophers have not kept up with modern developments in science. Particularly physics."
Prof Hawking went on to claim that "Scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge." He said new theories "lead us to a new and very different picture of the universe and our place in it".
Hawking's assertion is philosophy, so he refutes himself.
His philosophical musings are notoriously sophomoric, so it's not clear exactly what he means. To properly refute himself, he would have to muster sufficient philosophical rigor to make a proposition that can be true or false. Such rigor seems to be beyond Hawking's intellectual powers.
Perhaps what he means is that metaphysics has not kept up with science…
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