Philosophy and the Concepts of Modern Science

Philosophy and the Concepts of Modern Science

Philosophy and the Concepts of Modern Science

Philosophy and the Concepts of Modern Science

Excerpt

That the present age is one of critical examination in which scientific concepts, traditional institutions, and social practises are being weighed in the balance is an observation so trite that only purveyors of platitudes are guilty of calling attention to the fact. Nevertheless the reorganization in ideas and practises we are now undergoing is so fundamental that many tangled metaphors are invoked to describe this upheaval. One of the most curious manifestations of the sometimes paradoxical situation of modern culture is found in the fact that while science, in the course of the last several centuries, has progressively extended man's control over nature, it has at the same time been undermining its position as a theoretical discipline. Thus we find that after verifying Francis Bacon's dictum that knowledge is power, modern science is coming to see that power is not necessarily knowledge. As an example of this imbalance of theory and practise we need only point out that while science has increased its ability to predict and determine the future, there is as yet no adequate theory of "natural law" explaining and justifying these practical results. The status of induction, causality, probability, etc., is a scandal in the philosophy of science which is no whit abated by the advent of Heisenberg famous principle of indeterminacy.

Undoubtedly many thinkers, noting the fact that the crises in our economic-political systems parallel the need for theoretical reorientations in scientific structures, would regard this coincidence as purely accidental. But . . .

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