Science and the Hunt for Reality
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Title Page, Copyright Page
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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...
Chapter One. Objective or Subjective: That Is the Question
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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...
Chapter Two. The Science of Nature andthe Nature of Science
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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...
Chapter Three. Theory: Explanation, Not Speculation
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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...
Chapter Four. Is Science the Whole Story?
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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...
Chapter Five. Our Unique Universe
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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;...
Chapter Six. Nature’s Laws
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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...
Chapter Seven. Facing the Universe
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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...
Chapter Eight. The Hunt for Reality
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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...
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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-...
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Page Count: 200
Illustrations: 1 graph
Publication Year: 2010