Faraday to Einstein: Constructing Meaning in Scientific Theories
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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action-at-a-distance conception aether hypothesis analysis argued argument attempt bodies causal theory concept of field conceptual-theoretical distinction concerning conductor considered construction derived dielectric discovery discussion dynamical Einstein elastic electric and magnetic electro-tonic electrodynamics electromagnetic actions electromagnetic field electromagnetic induction electromagnetic phenomena electromotive force electrostatic induction empirical energy existence experience experimental Faraday Faraday's conception Feyerabend field concept field equations formulation given gravitational field Ibid incommensurability interpretation language lines of force Lorentz luminiferous aether magnetic actions magnetic field magnetic force magnetic induction mathematical matter Maxwell Maxwell's Maxwell's equations meaning in scientific mechanical medium motion nature network view Newtonian non-Newtonian observation sentences paper particles philosophical physical analogy polarization possible problem processes produced Quine reductionist theory scientific practice scientific theories space special relativity special theory speculation standard account stationary theoretical theory of light theory of meaning theory of relativity tion transmission velocity of light vortices
What Is This Thing Called Science? (Third Edition)
Alan F. Chalmers
No preview available - 1999
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