Understanding and Interpreting Contemporary Science
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|Format:||Paperback, 324 pages|
|Other Information: ||1, black & white illustrations|
|Published In: ||United States, 25 February 2002|
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In this magisterial work, Roland Omnes takes us from the academies of ancient Greece to the laboratories of modern science as he seeks to do no less than rebuild the foundations of the philosophy of knowledge. One of the world's leading quantum physicists, Omnes reviews the history and recent development of mathematics, logic, and the physical sciences to show that current work in quantum theory offers new answers to questions that have puzzled philosophers for centuries: Is the world ultimately intelligible? Are all events caused? Do objects have definitive locations? Omnes addresses these profound questions with vigorous arguments and clear, colorful writing, aiming not just to advance scholarship but to enlighten readers with no background in science or philosophy. The book opens with an insightful and sweeping account of the main developments in science and the philosophy of knowledge from the pre-Socratic era to the nineteenth century. Omnes then traces the emergence in modern thought of a fracture between our intuitive, commonsense views of the world and the abstract and--for most people--incomprehensible world portrayed by advanced physics, math, and logic.He argues that the fracture appeared because the insights of Einstein and Bohr, the logical advances of Frege, Russell, and Godel, and the necessary mathematics of infinity of Cantor and Hilbert cannot be fully expressed by words or images only. Quantum mechanics played an important role in this development, as it seemed to undermine intuitive notions of intelligibility, locality, and causality. However, Omnes argues that common sense and quantum mechanics are not as incompatible as many have thought. In fact, he makes the provocative argument that the "consistent-histories" approach to quantum mechanics, developed over the past fifteen years, places common sense (slightly reappraised and circumscribed) on a firm scientific and philosophical footing for the first time. In doing so, it provides what philosophers have sought through the ages: a sure foundation for human knowledge. Quantum Philosophy is a profound work of contemporary science and philosophy and an eloquent history of the long struggle to understand the nature of the world and of knowledge itself.
Table of Contents
Preface Ch. IClassical Logic Ch. IIClassical Physics Ch. IIIClassical Mathematics Ch. IVClassical Philosophy of Knowledge Pt. 2The Fracture Ch. VFormal Mathematics Ch. VIThe Philosophy of Mathematics Ch. VIIFormal Physics Ch. VIIIThe Epistemology of Physics Pt. 3From Formal Back to Visual: The Quantum Case Ch. IXBetween Logic and Physics Ch. XRediscovering Common Sense Ch. XIFrom the Measurable to the Unmeasurable Ch. XIIOn Realism Pt. 4State of the Question and Perspectives Ch. XIIIA New Beginning Ch. XIVWhat Is Science? Ch. XVMethod Ch. XVIVanishing Perspectives Glossary Name Index Subject Index
About the Author
Roland Omnes is Professor Emeritus of Physics at the University of Paris-Sud. His books include Understanding Quantum Mechanics and The Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics (both Princeton).
I cannot think of any physicist who has ever embarked on a more ambitious philosophical project. -- Jeffrey Alan Barrett, University of California, Irvine
From the speculations of ancient Greek philosophers to theories in modern science, OmnŠs (physics, Univ. of Paris XI) critically surveys the evolution of epistemology in terms of major developments in logic, mathematics, and the physical sciences. He focuses on the emergent fracture between commonsense viewpoints and reality itself on the microcosmic level. Special attention is given to counterintuitive discoveries in both quantum physics and the formal sciences, e.g., the insights of Bohr, Godel, and Cantor. OmnŠs argues that it is not necessary to abandon common sense in contemporary science and philosophy: "The two most important ideas to remember are first, that logic has its source in the laws of nature; secondly, that this logic of things cannot be dissociated from the existence of probabilities and, ultimately, from the necessary presence of chance." Yet his own position is essentially grounded in a metaphysical stance wherein Logos is independent of reality. For large science and philosophy collections only.ÄH. James Birx, Canisius Coll., Buffalo, NY Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
The line separating physics from philosophy, like the one between the quantum world and the classical, is often blurred. Roland Omnes ... affirms the connections between the two fields. -- Daniel B. Radov American Scientist [Quantum Philosophy] will prove to be [an] indispensable adjunct ... to standard quantum mechanics and philosophy of science courses. -- Richard Scalettar Physics Today With a contagious sense of wonder, Omnes invites his readers, who need no expertise beyond an active curiosity, to share in the exhilarating denouement of humanity's 2,500-year quest to fathom the natural order. Booklist
|Publisher: ||Princeton University Press|
|Dimensions: ||23.0 x 15.0 x 1.0 centimeters (0.46 kg)|