Philosophy and Modern Science

Philosophy and Modern Science

Philosophy and Modern Science

Philosophy and Modern Science

Excerpt

The present book tells the romance of modern physical science. It attempts to humanize certain data and speculations which have emerged from a body of recent astonishing experiments. It begins with some problems first proposed by the Greeks and traces the story of their development during subsequent centuries. Particularly are the strange concepts of these recent days set forth as the logical culmination of past experience.

The author has long cherished the belief that we are witnessing in the present development of science the uniting of two great streams of speculative thought which have their sources in the high plateaus of Greek philosophy. They diverged during the course of the centuries, one stream flowing through the philosophies of Descartes, Berkeley, Kant, Poincaré, and Mach, the other through the experiences of Galileo, Newton, Fresnel, von Helmholtz, Faraday, Lord Kelvin, Maxwell, and Lorentz. In this modern era we have witnessed the merging of the two streams. It is difficult to say whether Einstein and his great colleagues in this golden age of science are subjective philosophers or investigators of physical nature. Their work is revolutionary, but it has produced not so much a factual as a conceptual renaissance. Relativity, the wave mechanics, cosmic radiation, and the mysteries of the new concepts of energy and the atom have caused us to turn a speculative eye upon the most cherished principles of the older physics. It is difficult to say for example whether the theory of gravitation is to be regarded as a development of geometry, or whether it is to be thought of as an explanation of objective experience.

The present volume attempts to set forth as simply as possible the basic postulates of physics and to trace their implications. Technical language has been avoided as far as the subject matter will permit. The philosophical aspect of the problems has been constantly . . .

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