Interior dialogue on “blind forces”

All came to be from blind forces

What’s a blind force? What do I call the force I hit a baseball with? A sentient force?

No no no…when we call a force “blind” we mean it is not directed to a goal.

So a blind force has no direction? That’s not true (and what about the forces I direct, any way?)

No, we mean that a blind force is not directed by mind.

So the force I hit the baseball with is another kind of force? The measurement of the force, the equations for it, the vector plotting, etc are different?


So no analysis of the force made you call it blind. So why did you say all came to be from blind forces? 

Because we didn’t see the forces directed by human beings or intelligent things, etc.

But you didn’t see the forces that all things came to be from at all! Where did you learn about them?

From Science! From Physics!

But physics doesn’t care about the difference between blind forces and… whatever the opposite of blind forces are (you never came up with a decent name to call them). You didn’t learn about blind forces there.

It’s a postulate of physics, its methodological naturalism.

No it isn’t. Physics doesn’t distinguish between forces like you think it does at all.  Physics is no more methodologically naturalist than it is methodologically theist, or spiritualist, or humanist, or animist. Physics has no tools whatsoever to figure out whether forces are blind or sentient. So where did you learn about “blind forces”?



  1. Joseph A. said,

    February 27, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    What you speak to in this imaginary exchange is a complaint I’ve long had when it comes to questions of science. Science ‘proves’ all forces are blind, because … methodological naturalism. If science doesn’t address it, then it isn’t true. (Unless ‘it’ is atheism, because that’s true unless shown otherwise, even if science cannot settle the question even in principle, and also metaphysics does not count.)

  2. Peter said,

    February 27, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    I like how Grenier summarizes this: “Almost all physicists deny finality in nature. But Physics of itself is not concerned with finality. Therefore physicists have no right to deny finality, but should pass it over in silence.”

  3. Dale said,

    February 27, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    well said, sir.

  4. February 27, 2009 at 11:33 pm

    Joseph A,

    That’s right. Physics doesn’t distinguish between forces as “blind” and “______” (the total failure to name the opposite is a sign), any more than a tape recorder distinguishes between sounds made by rational beings and irrational ones; or grammar distinguishes between written words and typed ones. One cannot draw a conclusion like “naturalism” from a failure to conclude. There may be some sense to methodological naturalism (I doubt it- and even some physicalists deny this method) but it is a worthless tool to get us “blind forces”- which are themselves worthless ideas, as far as physics is concerned.


    He wrote that in 1937. I wonder if things have changed. That was at the tail end of the modern era (which had been dead for a while, but still had stragglers) which over-promoted the idea that if you knew anything scientific (physics, psychoanalysis, Keynes’s Economics) you therefore knew everything. There are still some stragglers around now who say that,but I think most physicists nowadays actually would pass over the question in silence, or not even see that its there. .

  5. Peter said,

    February 28, 2009 at 5:34 am

    Perhaps that is true. Physicists themselves seem to have other things to worry about and debate. If the thesis from Augros’ tiny book, The New Story of Science, is right, then we are still passing through a transitional phase of uncertainty. (You would expect to see lots of things passed over in silence during such a phase, wouldn’t you?)

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