LINGUIST List 3.573

Tue 14 Jul 1992

Disc: Culture-Dependency

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  1. , physics and culture
  2. , culture-dependency

Message 1: physics and culture

Date: Mon, 13 Jul 92 20:13 +8
From: <CTTOMLAICPHKVX.bitnet>
Subject: physics and culture

>From: bert peeters <peeterstasman.cc.utas.edu.au>

>I'm currently into a bit of a slinging match with a physicist who reckons
>physics is culture independent. Physicists do not, according to his view,
>create their concepts, but discover them by observation of the facts. He
>seems to be convinced that if physics had been persued by the Navahos or
>by some Highland Papuans first (his and my examples in private discussion)
>it would be exactly the same kind of physics than the one developed in
>the West that we know now. Has anyone some views on this? I'm trying to
>tell him he is wrong. Or am I?

I only want to make the following two points clear (please reckon them as
my belief):

(1) Physics (as it is) is independent of culture;

(2) The history of Physics, and it's accidental present state of
development, is of course dependent on culture like anything that has a
history.

To me, the Whorfian kind of relativity is invalid as far as Physics in
concerned.

Just an honest expression of view,

Tom Lai.
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Message 2: culture-dependency

Date: Mon, 13 Jul 92 22:18:38 BSculture-dependency
From: <WAB2phx.cam.ac.uk>
Subject: culture-dependency

Bert Peeters has chosen the field for his disputation from a very narrow and
jargon-ridden area. The existence of wider culture-specific world views are
well enough described (e.g. Whorf). And culture-specificity is not restricted
to different idioms. He should ask his physicist colleague where to find
phlogiston these days. Bill Bennett.
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