Atomic Physics and Human Knowledge

Atomic Physics and Human Knowledge

Atomic Physics and Human Knowledge

Atomic Physics and Human Knowledge

Excerpt

The importance of physical science for the development of general philosophical thinking rests not only on its contributions to our steadily increasing knowledge of that nature of which we ourselves are part, but also on the opportunities which time and again it has offered for examination and refinement of our conceptual tools. In our century, the study of the atomic constitution of matter has revealed an unsuspected limitation of the scope of classical physical ideas and has thrown new light on the demands on scientific explanation incorporated in traditional philosophy. The revision of the foundation for the unambiguous application of our elementary concepts, necessary for comprehension of atomic phenomena, therefore has a bearing far beyond the special domain of physical science.

The main point of the lesson given us by the development of atomic physics is, as is well known, the recognition of a feature of wholeness in atomic processes, disclosed by the discovery of the quantum of action. The following articles present the essential aspects of the situation in quantum physics and, at the same time, stress the points of similarity it exhibits to our position in other fields of knowledge beyond the scope of the mechanical conception of . . .

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