Faraday to Einstein: Constructing Meaning in Scientific Theories

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Springer Science & Business Media, Sep 30, 1984 - Philosophy - 196 pages
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Einstein often expressed the sentiment that "the eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility," and that science is the means through which we comprehend it. However, nearly every one - including scientists - agrees that the concepts of modem physics are quite incomprehensible: They are both unintelligible to the educated lay-person and to the scientific community itself, where there is much dispute over the interpretation of even (and especially) the most basic concepts. There is, of course, almost universal agreement that modem science quite adequately accounts for and predicts events, i. e. , that its calculations work better than those of classical physics; yet the concepts of science are supposed to be descriptive of 'the world' as well - they should enable us to comprehend it. So, it is asked, and needs tobe"asked: Has modem physics failed in an important respect? It failed with me as a physics student. I came to physics, as with most naIve students, out of a desire to know what the world is really like; in particular, to understand Einstein's conception of it. I thought I had grasped the concepts in classical mechanics, but with electrodynamics confusion set in and only increased with relativity and quantum mechanics. At that point I began even to doubt whether I had really understood the basic concepts of classical mechanics.
  

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Contents

Meaning variance and incommensurability
13
AN HISTORICAL
31
Maxwells Newtonian aetherfield
69
Lorentz nonNewtonian aetherfield
95
Einsteins field
121
A PROPOSAL
141
Notes
161
Bibliography
179
Index
195
Copyright

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About the author (1984)

Regents' Professor of Cognitive Science, School of Interactive Computing, Georgia Institute of TechnologyNancy Nersessian's research focuses on creativity, innovation and conceptual change in science. She examines the cognitive and cultural mechanisms that precede theoretical and experimental scientific innovation. She holds an A.B. in Physics and Philosophy from Boston University and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Philosophy from Case Western Reserve University. Professor Nersessian is currently a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member (foreign) of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. She has held fellowship positions at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study (Harvard), the Dibner Institute at MIT, the Pittsburgh Center for the Philosophy of Science, the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study, and the University of Leiden, the Netherlands (Fulbright Scholar). She has also served as the Chair of the Cognitive Science Society (2003-4) and on its Governing Board, and as a Governing Board member of the Philosophy of Science Association.

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