“You Can’t Prove A Negative.”

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Keith Raye's picture
Philosophy doesn't bring

Philosophy doesn't bring great facts to table, it starts people thinking about facts. It's where ideas begin.

chimp3's picture
Scientists and entrepreneurs

Scientists and entrepreneurs do not wax philosophical but conceive new ideas everyday.

Keith Raye's picture
Yes they do. The very

Yes they do. The very conception of new ideas is philosophical in it's beginning. And the new ideas remain philosophical until fact proves them right or wrong. I'm interpreting 'philosophica'l as 'theoretical' but I think they mean the same thing.

chimp3's picture
Philosophy can not claim to

Philosophy can not lay claim to any idea created by humans. Either philosophy is distinct or it does not exist as it's own discipline.

Keith Raye's picture
It was Parmenides, back in

It was Parmenides, back in 450 BC who first proposed the idea that matter consists of elementary particles - he called then atoms.
Pythagoras invented geometry. There are many other examples. The second sentence of your post doesn't make sense to me, could you explain?

Keith Raye's picture
Isaac Newton was a

Isaac Newton was a philosopher too, and so was Mary Woolstonecraft who argued that mind has no sex and that, therefore, rights cannot be determined by gender.

chimp3's picture
Parmenides did not discover

Parmenides did not discover atoms. Only the idea that matter could be minimized to discrete units. He did not discover neutrons, protons, electrons, quarks. He did not discover elements comprised of different atomic structures.

As I mentioned above, mathematics is the partner of science.

Keith Raye's picture


Agreed. But you could argue that the idea of atoms began with philosophy. And what about the other cases I mentioned? And my query? Do you agree that all ideas are theoretical until proven true or false by fact?

chimp3's picture
Dalton was a chemist. That is

Dalton was a chemist. That is where we get the modern study of the atom.

Keith Raye's picture
You're dodging my questions.

You're dodging my questions.

chimp3's picture
I answered the first one.

I answered the first one.

chimp3's picture
Isaac Newton: What great

Isaac Newton: What great contribution to knowledge did he submit using the philosophical method? Scientifically/ mathematically he contributed much!

Keith Raye's picture
Then I'll ask again. Do you

Then I'll ask again. Do you agree that all ideas are theoretical until proven true or false by fact?

chimp3's picture
No! Most ideas do not rise to

No! Most ideas do not rise to the standard which qualifies as theory.

Keith Raye's picture
Every idea is a theory - even

Every idea is a theory - even a completely barmy one - until it's proven either true of false by fact.

Keith Raye's picture
Yes, but his ideas were

Newton: Yes, but his ideas were theoretical/philosophical in the first instance.

chimp3's picture
Theories are not hunches.

Theories are not hunches. They must be supported by evidence and have the ability to explain and predict a wide array of phenomena. Which defines my original question. What in philosophy has explained a wide array of phenomena and predicted results of queries?

chimp3's picture
Wollenscraft: Ok! So,

Wollenscraft: Ok! So, morality and politics are advanced by philosophical arguments. To that I submit. But, my claim about the weakness of philosophy was related to hard science.

Keith Raye's picture
Thank you. I agree with most

Thank you. I agree with most of what you say but I still insist that the idea must come before the realisation, therefore, philosophy contributes as much as science does.

chimp3's picture
Do you consider every idea

Do you consider every idea philosophical?

Keith Raye's picture
If you interpret

If you interpret philosophical as theoretical, yes.

chimp3's picture
Obviously I do not interpret

Obviously I do not interpret philosophical as theoretical! The Kalam argument for instance. Not supported by fact. Does not make predictions about a wide variety of phenomena.

Keith Raye's picture
I'm not familiar with the

I'm not familiar with the Kalam argument, but I'll look it up. I'm going to bed, Chimp3, but I'm more than willing to carry on with this tomorrow if you are and if I'm not stretching your patience too much.

chimp3's picture
It will be a pleasure Keith!

It will be a pleasure Keith!

Nyarlathotep's picture
Burn your bible - But as soon

Burn your bible - But as soon as someone defines said god and gives a book explaining what that god is and what that god commands, then we have jumped from the what if into positive claims. This is when I feel we can attack those positive claims with evidence against using science.

Sure, but why wait? Of course it will make the philosophers cry.

It wasn't that long ago they were telling people that an apple and a ball must obey different rules because they have a different purposes (the apple was made by god/nature to be eat, the ball by man for games). That was considered a logical argument. And they ridiculed the idea of using measurement to test that idea. They would argue because human sense are fallible that it was foolish to try to gain knowledge empirically; and that it should only be gotten from pure logic. It seems like an alien idea in the modern world, but you can still occasionally see the ghost of that mindset in some modern works. I've seen it expressed on these forums a few times.

Keith Raye's picture


You're probably more of a philosopher than you think. Socrates idea was to try to arrive at truth through dialogue with other people, that's to say, by talking with other people and listening to their ideas - which is what you're doing. Yes, it would be good if we could get the theists to define their gods, but they aren't ever going to do that because, if they did, they would lose the argument. In the meantime, we can use our own logical method of enquiry to examine the teachings of religion to see whether or not we find them acceptable. In the end, it's up to each of us as individuals, to do that to our own satisfaction.

Pitar's picture
"For example, I can prove (as

"For example, I can prove (as more likely true than its opposite):

- That there is no German money in my wallet.
- That there is not a one inch sized picture of the Queens head on my tea cup next to me.
- That my house is not made of oranges.
- That the prime minister of England is not a six year old girl.
- That there is no dog currently sat in my car."

1. You can't prove that German labor, materials, design or market share of sales are not "in" your wallet.
2. The visual image of the queen's head may not be on that cup but her image can be assumed there by anyone, any time.
3. Your house may certainly be made of oranges, in part at least, should one of the construction workers who built it defecated within its confines after an orange he ingested prior. But, hey, you can't prove that didn't happen.
4. The prime minister of England does indeed embody a 6-year old girl. Just ask Jean-Claude Juncker. He'll fight you all day long on that point.
6. Um, regarding the dog, how do you know that car does not have canine DNA lying in it? Can you prove it doesn't?

The above is certainly the christian meme for disassociation from reality, in this case the reality you give us, with a very typical deflection to the whims of possibility.

We can play that game for the same amount time the christians have since they lofted it into the minds of the ignorant masses.

Aposteriori unum's picture
@chimp and Keith... By the

@chimp and Keith... By the way, the sciences are subsets of philosophy. If one has a PHD in astrophysics one is said to be a Doctor of Philosophy of Astrophysics.

the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence, especially when considered as an academic discipline.
a particular system of philosophical thought.
plural noun: philosophies
"Schopenhauer’s philosophy"
the study of the theoretical basis of a particular branch of knowledge or experience.
"the philosophy of science"
synonyms: thinking, thought, reasoning
"the philosophy of Aristotle"

And logic is a mathematical discipline. Replace the words of informal logic with variables and you get formal logic. X=1,x≠1... and you have the law of non contradiction that states that cannot be itself and it's opposite at the same time. Et cetera.

I hope this clears things up a bit.

Nyarlathotep's picture
Philosophy of science is

Philosophy of science is about as useful to scientists as ornithology is to birds. - RP Feynman.

Keith Raye's picture
@AU Thank you. I agree with

@AU Thank you. I agree with you. I took issue with Chimp3 because he appeared to be saying that philosophy cannot, and has not, contributed anything useful to science. But, thinking about it last night, it might have been better if we had both defined our terms more clearly.

Later addition: Of course, it is also possible, from a purely philosophical standpoint, to argue that logic itself is testable because what we recognise as logic is dependent on the way the human mind perceives things. But, that proposition fails because it's basis cannot be supported by observable fact. However, it retains validity as a theory.


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