Download Physics and Philosophy: Selected Essays by Henry Margenau PDF

By Henry Margenau

This publication is meant for individuals drawn to physics and its philosophy. if you regard physics as an integral part of recent tradition instead of basically a device for or warfare. certainly this quantity is addressed to these scholars, lecturers and learn employees who get pleasure from studying, educating or doing physics, and are within the behavior of pausing infrequently to contemplate over key actual techniques and hypotheses and to wonder if got theories are as ideal as textbooks could have us think and, if now not, how they could be enhanced. Henry Margenau, lately retired from Yale college as Eugene Higgins Professor of Physics and Philosophy, is an important thinker of physics of his new release, and certainly the most eminent philosophers of technological know-how of our century. He brought and elucidated the suggestion of the correspondence rule. He claimed and confirmed, within the heyday of positivism, that physics has metaphysical presuppositions. He was once the 1st to achieve that quantum mechanics can do with no von Neumann's projection postulat- and that was once way back to 1936. He clarified the physics and the philosophy of Pauli's exclusion precept at a time whilst it appeared mysterious. He was once the 1st physicist to submit a philosophical paper in a physics magazine, which he did as early as 1941. He used to be additionally one of many infrequent scientists who proclaimed the necessity for a systematic method of price idea and ethics.

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Xxxiv INTRODUCTION Most discussions of the history of physics either stop or change their approach with Newton. For his scientific breakthrough was so successful, so immense that a mere survey of facts will not do it justice. His work in the foundations of mechanics, now called classical mechanics, along with his contributions to optics made possible the solution of innumerable detailed problems, each important in itself, so that physics not only became a science in its own right but began to dominate all other sciences and to loosen its allegiance to philosophy.

Suppose we attempt to fmd a few reasons of a general character why the kinetic theory is preferable to the old caloric theory, for instance. We fmd immediately that there are in our experience with heated bodies certain THE PROBLEM OF PHYSICAL EXPLANATION 11 changes, such as freezing, fusion, and evaporation which demand the introduction of symbols other than are involved in the existence of a caloric, and entirely unrelated to it. The kinetic theory, however, has a sufficient number of related symbols to cover these phenomena.

I shall attempt to show that the close connection existed approximately until the beginning of the last century. Then there occurred a radical separation: physics and philosophy became different departments of study in our colleges, contact between them loosened progressively. Or, to be more precise, a single, somewhat superficial philosophy, vaguely called empiricism or positivism, dominated the scientific scene and suppressed the more elaborate xxxii INTRODUCTION metaphysical views of earlier thinkers.

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