måndag 2 maj 2011

Einstein as Interpassive Subject

Here is an answer to the question Where Have All Einstein Opponents Gone?

Slavoj Zizek decribes the interpassive subject as a fictional subject or Other supposed to carry a belief we may have, as a substitute of ourself as believer. The Other could also carry our emotions in the form the "canned laugh" of a TV show, or as the "weepers" of a funeral ceremony.

Zizek makes a distinction between knowing and believing noting that belief is symbolic and knowledge is real:
  • knowledge does not require any other who know,
  • belief presupposes belief of some other.
According to Zizek:
  • From the very outset, the speaking subject displaces his belief onto the big Other qua the order of pure semblance, so that the subject never "really believed in it"; from the very beginning, the subject refers to some decentered other to whom he imputes this belief.
  • All concrete versions of this "subject supposed to believe" (from small children for whose sake parents pretend to believe in Santa Claus, to the "ordinary working people" for whose sake Communist intellectuals pretend to believe in Socialism) are stand-ins for the big Other.
  • So, what one should answer to the conservative platitude according to which every honest man has a profound need to believe in something, is that every honest man has a profound need to find another subject who would believe in his place…
Can we find such an interpassive subject (as opposed to an interactive subject carrying emotions or beliefs under external input) also in science? Is there an interpassive scientific fictional subject which carries a scientific theory which scientists have chosen to decenter away from themselves?

Yes, Einstein´s theory of relativity is an example:
  • All scientists act as if there is a correct theory in relativity, acknowledged by all scientists, but no scientist claims to carry this theory in the sense of understanding that it is a correct scientific theory.
  • All scientists act as if there is a Santa Claus (relativity) which everybody believes in, but no scientist de facto believes in Santa Claus (relativity).
Note that you cannot debate with an interpassive subject and question the beliefs carried by the subject, because an interpassive subject is symbolic and you cannot debate with a symbolic subject only with a real subject. You cannot debate with Santa Claus about facts of Christmas.
Neither can you debate with Einstein about relativity theory.

This explains the difficulty of debating relativity theory, which anyone who has tried has experienced. The belief that relativity theory is rock solid is total, yet it is impossible to find
any relativity scientist open to debate. If you do not believe this is true, try it yourself.

There are several examples where dead scientists are assigned beliefs, which they never acknowledged themselves, but which have become established truths not questioned by any
living scientist. One example is the resolution of d'Alembert's paradox assigned to Prandtl,
which cannot be found in the scientific work by Prandtl, as shown in Dr Faustus of Modern Physics. As before debating with a dead scientist is impossible, and so the truth cannot be questioned.

10 kommentarer:

  1. Prof. Claes,
    are you familiar with the work of Miles Mathis. He certainly challenges many of the accepted 'truisms' of famous dead scientists.
    I find many of his analyses fascinating but as a lowly anaesthetist (retired)
    I do not have enough maths and physics to be able to judge.

  2. I sent the comment re. Miles Mathis but for some reason the link blocks my name and web address - G. Watkins.
    I am a regular visitor to your excellent site but have been prevented from commentating, if only to show you have support.

  3. Jag läste/skummade igenom MMR/MMQM boken. Imponerande. Som av en händelse kom faktiskt jag och en kollega nyligen in på en diskussion huruvida Paulis uteslutningsprincip kunde härledas från Schrödinger ekvationen i en slags many-minds tappning. Det finns mycket att diskutera kring detta.

    Einstein får kanske ta skottet för att många hausat upp honom utan proportion, det finns dock ett område av hans tidiga forskning som du inte berör: Brownsk rörelse. Har du studerat detta från ditt computational perspektiv? Det finns ett antal frågor där som jag tror till och med skulle kunna ha relevans för klimatdebatten. Det gäller definitionen av en termometer.

  4. Anders, please I know you have excellent English. Swedish is difficult. I am sure there are many like myself that can only guess at a few words. If you have to write in a language other than English try German or French I have dictionaries for both of these.
    Anonym, above, Miles Mathis has some interesting thoughts but I am not sure if he is correct about photons. He has emailed me to say that he thinks Nobel prize winner WE Lamb Jr here http://www-3.unipv.it/fis/tamq/Anti-photon.pdf is wrong. I find this article convincing http://www.worldsci.org/pdf/abstracts/abstracts_5711.pdf The AGW alarmist lean very much on the concept of photons emitted from everything and justifying their view of backradiation with their photon concept.

  5. After quick look at the critical work by Miles Mathis I would say that I see no factual connection to my work, but the fact that he is so critical to so many things
    may be seen as one of many indication that "something is rotten in the state of physics".

  6. Note taken, thanks by the way. I'll stick to english since if I were to try any of the other laguages you suggested your dictionary wouldn't help you.

  7. Let me try to get something straight with the Einstein issue. What is the main point? That Einstein was a plagiarist of Pincaré and Hilbert, or that Einstein was wrong? If Einstein was only a mathematically illiterate plagiarist then why don't you write "Hilbert as interpassive Subject"?

  8. I did not say he was a plagiarist. My criticism is that he gave the world a relativity theory which few people if any claim to understand, but everyone has to confess to. Do you claim to understand?

  9. I'm not sure to what extend my own understanding is relevant but anyway. The way I have understood it is that massive particles trace out spacetime according to Einstein/Hilberts equations and that light and so called "test-particles" (with minute mass compared to celestial bodies) travel along geodesics in this geometry.

    But let me rephrase the question. Are Hilbert and Poincaré less responsible for this than Einstein. After all, as some of the people you make reference to claim, Maurice Allais for example, Einstein more or less stole their ideas.

  10. To steal ideas is common in science. The issue here is
    that Einstein is the icon of physics with a theory nobody
    can understand. This a serious problem for modern physics.