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Christian Tractatus

(Text as at 12/08/2007 10:17:46)

Entities invented to explain phenomena should be critically examined to determine whether or not they do have explanatory power or whether they are simply tautological labels for these phenomena, designed to disguise a lack of understanding.

  1. For instance, do such concepts as mind, soul, spirit etc. represent existent immaterial entities or are they simply names for collections of physical phenomena that are not yet understood ?
  2. As an example, phlogiston was a substance invented to explain combustion. When this phenomenon was found to be due to exothermic chemical reaction with oxygen, phlogiston was discarded. However, all along, phlogiston was only an invention to explain (though it never did) a particular phenomenon. It should therefore have fallen foul of Occam's Razor even before the discovery of oxygen.
  3. Another, and perhaps better, example would be that of the aether, invented to explain the propagation of electromagnetic waves through a vacuum, and rejected when it was found to contradict experiment (eg. the Michelson-Morley experiment).

Note last updated Reference for this Topic Parent Topic
12/08/2007 10:17:46 441 (Occam's Razor - Examples) Occam's Razor

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