Beyond Science: The Wider Human Context

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Cambridge University Press, Sep 17, 1998 - Science - 131 pages
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Science is very successful in discovering the structure and history of the physical world. However, there is more to be told of the encounter with reality, including the nature of scientific inquiry itself, than can be gained from impersonal experience and experimental test alone. Beyond Science considers the human context in which science operates and pursues that wider understanding which we all seek. It looks to issues of meaning and value, intrinsic to scientific practice but excluded from science's consideration by its own self-denying ordinance. The author raises the question of the significance of the deep mathematical intelligibility of the physical world and its anthropically fruitful history. He considers how we may find responsible ways to use the power that science places in human hands. Science is portrayed as an activity of individuals, pursued within a convivial and truth-seeking community. This book neither overvalues science (as if it were the only worthwhile source of knowledge) nor devalues it (as if it were to be treated with suspicion or not taken seriously). Rather, Beyond Science provides a considered and balanced account that firmly asserts science's place in human culture, maintained in mutually illuminating relationships with other aspects of that culture.
 

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Contents

Is science enough?
1
Understanding the physical world
3
Philosophical debate
4
Sciences achievement
7
Paradigm shifts
11
Answering the critics
12
Scientific method
14
Critical realism
18
The Anthropic Principle
80
Finetuning
81
A home for life
84
Inflation
85
The carbon principle
87
A philosophical parable
88
Many universes
89
Creation
91

Best explanation
19
Working together
23
Handing on the torch
25
Rivalry and collaboration
26
Fame and fortune
29
The conference circuit
33
The ordinary and the extraordinary
34
Changing direction
37
Memoirs of the great
39
Abdus Salam
41
Murray GellMann
42
Richard Feynman
45
Stephen Hawking
47
What happened to the human mind?
53
Examining the phenomena
54
Thought experiments
56
Subjectivity
57
Evolution
59
A place for the soul
61
Reductionism
63
The computer analogy
66
Some preSocratic flailing about
69
What does it mean?
75
Cosmic fruitfulness
77
Beautiful equations
79
Ultimate questions
95
Lifes destiny
96
The true ultimate
99
Is ought and wonder
103
A moral community
105
Beauty
106
A comprehensive view
107
Ethical values
108
Sociobiology
109
The universe as creation
112
Responsible behaviour
113
Caring for creation
114
Animal rights
116
Sustainable life style
117
The integrity of creation
118
The environment
120
Population growth
121
Gaia
122
Predictive predicament
123
Ethical debate
124
Sciences contribution
125
The end of the matter
128
Index
129
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About the author (1998)

John Polkinghorne, K.B.E., F.R.S., is past president and now fellow of Queens' College, Cambridge, and Canon Theologian of Liverpool, England.

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