I intend to spend the next few months revising my book What Is Physics. Please send me, either by a comment to this post or a private email, any thing you think could be improved.
Now, I should say a few things. Firstly, I am interested in minor corrections here. I don't want to do a complete re-write. What I want to do is improve the argument, make it more rigorous, fill in any holes I have left in, make it easier to understand.
Secondly, the purpose of this work is to outline the ideas in some detail. As such, it is not intended to be a work that can be read without effort. That is not to say that there isn't a place for an easy version of my thesis, skipping all the technical details. There is very much a place, and if I get time I might even write one. The problem is that if I were to present a shorter summary of my arguments first, people will say, "Yes, but you haven't really proved that, because you skip out a lot of material." And when I present the longer version that fills in the gaps, people will say "This is just what he wrote before, no point in reading it." This book is intended to be the thing I point to when I encounter that objection. It shouldn't skip or simplify anything (of importance).
Thus there are thus several types of comments which I don't want for this exercise:
- Your book is complete rubbish from start to finish. That might be true, and if it is I do want to know about it. But it is not an argument for rewriting the book, but for withdrawing it. It is a useful criticism, if it can be backed up with facts, but not for this purpose.
- The book is too long and technical. It is intended to be long and technical.
- You use British English. I'm British. Deal with it.
- Here is some alternative philosophy you should be addressing. I focus on classical philosophy, mechanism and to a lesser extent empiricism in my work. I mention a few others, but not in detail. That is a weakness of my work. But I can't respond to everything, and the book is long enough as it is. My focus was on presenting the positive case, not to eliminate the alternatives.
- You made a minor error of fact here, this is what things are really like, and here is the reference. It is quite possible that I made a mistake, particularly when straying outside my area of expertise, and maybe even while straying inside it. I want to know about it.
- Your reasoning here isn't rigorous. Here is a better way of arguing the point. I might not agree with you, but I would like to know regardless. Or alternatively, I need to add a caveat in place that I haven't answered a certain class of people.
- There is a strong and common objection to your argument you missed. This might be the case. I tried to answer most of the major objections I know of in the course of my work, but there might be some I don't know about. (One set of objections I know about but didn't respond to in the book are those of Kenny. I didn't respond to them properly because I wrote enough in that chapter as it was; I might do so here or elsewhere at a later time -- No promises though.)
- You didn't define a term correctly. Here I am a little less willing to change. Definitions are, of course, slightly arbitrary, and I make them primarily to be helpful to my argument. My definitions don't quite line up with those of the scholastic or classical philosophers. That is partly because I am trying to tie in classical philosophy with contemporary physics. Clearly, it is very likely that there will need to be at least minor changes to one or the other to make them line up, and I am not prepared to change physics to make it fit the philosophy. My thesis is that those changes to the philosophy are only minor; that is my point of disagreement with the modern world, not that I believe that classical philosophy will work as it emerged from the pen of Plato and Aristotle. So if I have changed some definitions slightly, that might well be deliberate. Or it might just be an expression of my ignorance. What I am concerned about is a) if I presented something as a classical definition when it is either disputed or not classical; and b) if I use my definitions inconsistently.
- I didn't explain something clearly. If it that is because my discussion is too technical, I'm not interested. If it is because I found the wrong words to describe a concept, and I could have explained it clearer without being less technical, then I am very interested.
- I made a typo, or grammatical error, or error in my algebra. I try my best, but I'm not perfect. It is quite possible that something got through. In fact, I know that things did because I have already found things. In particular, I made the mistake of changing my mathematical font just before publication, and some characters weren't rendered correctly. I picked up on some of these while proofing, but unfortunately a few slipped through.
There are several changes that I need to make that I know about. There are also a few areas where my thinking has evolved, and I want to update the text to match my current ideas (I'm looking at you in particular, section 15.9). But, obviously, I want this draft to be as good and complete as possible. If I don't get any comments, that's fine. If I do and they are constructive, that's even better.
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