My name is Amber Harris and I am a Philosophy major/Economics minor at Spelman College in Atlanta,Georgia. Currently, I am taking a course in Astronomy and I have found a significant correlation between Philosophy and Astronomy being that the two with the study of how ideas are processed. For example, astronomers explore ideas about the Earth and galaxies beyond while philosophers explore ideas surrounding theories and sometimes even realms beyond human imagination.
What is the difference between science and philosophy? While there are enterprises that are clearly in one or the other, the dividing line isn’t always a sharp one. Science grew out of philosophy, particularly natural philosophy. Some would say that science is itself a type of philosophy. But what is the difference between what we today call science and what we call philosophy?
What is science? As in many broad categories of human endeavor, this is a difficult question to answer. Whole books have been written on the question of what is called, in the philosophy of science, the ‘demarcation problem‘, which is simply another way of approaching the definition. The definition many scientists seem to be the most fond of is Karl Popper’s falsifiability criteria. Popper said that for a notion to be scientific, there has to be a possibility that it could be…
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As an Astronomy student, I often found myself trying to figure out what exactly space was. How do we measure it? Do we measure it? I had many questions but no answers. There was no way to answer these questions. After conducting research, I came upon many philosophers explanations for the concept of space and time. Particularly one stood out to me.
The idea of space and time was discussed by James Robert Brown, an author and well known philosopher. He states that humans should not worry about the concept of time being that it was an illusion. He has conducted “thought experiments” which supported his ideas regarding astronomical matters including the concept of time.
After reviewing his ideas, I began to see astronomy in a different light. Not only did I learn that some questions may not have a definite answer, but I began to acknowledge the fact that it is because it is our choice to decide what we want it to be. Want space to be infinite? YOUR DECISION. Want time to stand still? YOUR DECISION. Brown’s philosophy reminded me of a quote I once heard which stated that you are only as old/young as you allow yourself to be.
Philosophy, as you can see, is definently a major aspect of astronomy. It encourages experiment and discovery. This encouragement has already led to the establishment of what we know today and is contributing to scientific research.
starspotpodcast.com : Episode 33
In this book, Martens briefly discusses how Kepler’s philosophical ideas plays a major role in today’s astronomy due to concepts he understood that extended well beyond science. This was an interesting topic to explore because it brought to attention the fact that Kepler often referred to those who were necessarily involved in the scientific world. This is most likely due to the fact that he was marked by incredible misfortune. His life before scientific discovery may have encouraged his interest in philosophy and science because he began looking for explanations to his lack of financial and emotional stability. Kepler focused on establish rationale rather than randomizing predictions.
As I read this, although it was briefly discussed, I asked myself: “But WHO did Kepler get his ideas from?” Further research proved that Kepler, respectively, referred to the philosophical aspects of Aristotle and Plato, being that he studied them in college along with astronomy.
Isn’t it amazing how philosophers could have play, no not directly, BUT at least a small role in the establishment of programs like NASA and other space programs that are derived from the ideas of men like Kepler?
Kepler’s Philosophy and the New Astronomy by Rhonda Martens
**This source was found on Google Scholar**