We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Lawless Universe

Science and the Hunt for Reality

Joe Rosen

Publication Year: 2010

Can science fully comprehend the whole of the material universe? Not according to Joe Rosen. There is no question that advancements in science—especially in physics—have radically changed our concept of nature, revolutionizing our view of the universe, even of reality itself. Rosen argues, though, that the material universe in its entirety lies beyond science. Anyone who claims otherwise, who proposes a scientific Theory of Everything to explain all aspects and phenomena of nature, only misleads and misinforms. Taking science—and the scientific method—down a peg, Rosen asserts that any understanding of the whole universe, if it is to be found at all, can come only from outside science, from nonscientific modes of comprehension and insight. He believes that popularizers of science—think Stephen Hawking and Richard Dawkins—are mistaken when they declare that science is on the verge of unlocking all the secrets of the universe. Perhaps without realizing it, they have crossed into the realm of metaphysics in an attempt to explain the unexplainable. In Lawless Universe Rosen explores just how far science can go in comprehending nature. He considers the separate—but entangled—domains of science and metaphysics and examines the all-too-often ignored boundary between the objective and the subjective. Thought-provoking and controversial, Lawless Universe is a complement to, even an antidote for, books that create the misimpression that science can explain everything.

Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

pdf iconDownload PDF (74.5 KB)


pdf iconDownload PDF (69.6 KB)
pp. vii-viii

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (120.7 KB)
pp. ix-xii

The achievements of science, and especially of physics, since the start of the twentieth century have radically changed the conception of nature we had held in earlier times. These achievements have revolutionized our view of the universe, even of reality itself. We surely enjoy many of the technological benefits accruing from...

read more

Chapter One. Objective or Subjective: That Is the Question

pdf iconDownload PDF (229.9 KB)
pp. 1-26

Surely few of us believe that the world will cease to exist when we die, that everything we perceive is but a figment of our imagination. Such supreme egocentrism, termed solipsism by philosophers, holds that the believer has the only “true” existence, and that everything else is merely the believer’s mental creation. As absurd as solipsism might seem at first, it’s not that far from...

read more

Chapter Two. The Science of Nature andthe Nature of Science

pdf iconDownload PDF (226.7 KB)
pp. 27-44

What, then, is science, which I claim to be the most nearly objective means we have for comprehending the real world? The rest of this book is devoted to answering that question. In the following we’ll see what science is and how it operates. We’ll discover the objective nature of science. Yet we’ll learn why, nevertheless, some degree of...

read more

Chapter Three. Theory: Explanation, Not Speculation

pdf iconDownload PDF (124.4 KB)
pp. 45-58

Laws of nature are worthwhile achievements. Besides their potentially useful predictive power, they offer a unifying description of natural phenomena. But we are not satisfied with that. We want to explain laws of nature, to know the reasons for them; we want to understand the reproducible and predictable aspects of nature, not...

read more

Chapter Four. Is Science the Whole Story?

pdf iconDownload PDF (114.9 KB)
pp. 59-68

The definition of science presented earlier (Science, chapter 2) and forming the basis of our present investigation is our attempt to understand objectively the reproducible and predictable aspects of nature. The definition of nature is strictly limited to the material universe with which we can, or can conceivably, interact, which is what...

read more

Chapter Five. Our Unique Universe

pdf iconDownload PDF (129.0 KB)
pp. 69-84

In chapters 2 and 3 we saw that in doing science we operate as follows. We investigate what ever reproducible aspects of nature interest us and look for order. From order we formulate laws, which allow prediction. Then we try to develop theories that explain those laws. The raw material of science is the reproducible phenomena of nature;...

read more

Chapter Six. Nature’s Laws

pdf iconDownload PDF (231.4 KB)
pp. 85-120

In The Lawless Universe, chapter 5, we saw that the universe as a whole, being a unique phenomenon, is irreproducible, orderless, lawless, unpredictable, and unexplainable by science. Within the universe, however, we find aspects and phenomena that are reproducible, orderly, lawful, predictable, and explainable by science. Since aspects...

read more

Chapter Seven. Facing the Universe

pdf iconDownload PDF (135.3 KB)
pp. 121-139

Recall the definition of science as our attempt to understand objectively the reproducible and predictable aspects of nature. For this chapter, I strongly emphasize “our.” In Science, chapter 2, we saw that this seemingly innocuous qualifier carries a heavy load of implication. It tells us that the source of science is within ourselves, that...

read more

Chapter Eight. The Hunt for Reality

pdf iconDownload PDF (124.2 KB)
pp. 140-153

The nature of reality has been the subject of extensive, deeply searching philosophical thought, discussion, and argument throughout the ages. In our own age the issue is still far from resolved, and arouses undiminished fervor. As science has developed from, say, the 1600s to the present, it has taught humankind objective facts about...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (80.7 KB)
pp. 154-159

So where are we? What have we accomplished? What have we learned from our discussions in this book? We started off with an analysis of objectivity and subjectivity. We based it on the definition of “objective” as existing as part of reality, independent of thought or of an observer, and the definition of “subjective” as existing in the mind, belonging to the thinking sub-...


pdf iconDownload PDF (108.8 KB)
pp. 161-169

Combined Bibliography

pdf iconDownload PDF (79.8 KB)
pp. 171-175


pdf iconDownload PDF (696.2 KB)
pp. 177-184

E-ISBN-13: 9780801899959
E-ISBN-10: 0801899958
Print-ISBN-13: 9780801895814
Print-ISBN-10: 0801895812

Page Count: 200
Illustrations: 1 graph
Publication Year: 2010