The Limits of Science
"Science," writes Sir Peter Medawar, "is incomparably the most successful enterprise human beings have ever engaged upon." In this brief, brilliant book the Nobel laureate explores the nature and limitations of scientific pursuit. The three essays included touch on some of the largest questions known to man: Can science determine the existence of God? Is there one "scientific method" by which all the secrets of the universe can be discovered?
In "An Essay on Scians" (an early spelling of "science"), Medawar examines the process of scientific inquiry. Debunking the common belief that science is inductively structured, he claims that great leaps of imagination are required to determine the laws of nature and likens the process of scientific hypothesis to the creative acts of poets and artists. The question posed in "Can Scientific Discovery Be Premeditated?" is answered with a firm no. Sir Peter stresses the role of luck in the history of science and cites as examples of un-premeditated discoveries those of X-rays, HLA polymorphism, and the nature of the disease myasthenia gravis. In the title essay, Medawar distinguishes between "transcendent" questions, which are better left to religion, literature, and metaphysics, and questions about the organization and structure of the material universe. With regard to the latter, he concludes, there are no limits to the possibilities of scientific achievement. "This is science's greatest glory," writes Medawar, "for it entails that everything which is possible in principle can be done if the intention to do it is sufficiently resolute and long sustained."
What people are saying - Write a review
We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.
THE LIMITS OF SCIENCE
The Question of the Existence of
1 other sections not shown
Other editions - View all
advancement already animals answer Bacon begin believe better blood body bring brought called cause cells clear common conception Consider course culture describe discovered discovery effect empirical especially essay evidence example existence expect experiments fact genetic give grafts growing growth human hypothesis idea illustrate imaginative important induction interests introduced John Karl kind knowledge known later learning lectures light limit logical London luck matter mean ments method mind nature never objects observation once opinion ordinary organ origin Oxford philosopher Popper possible principle problem procedure proposal questions reason regard religious Royal scientific scientists sense Society story studied successful things third thought tion transplantation true truth turn twins Ultra understanding University whole writings wrote