why beliefs matter reflections on the nature of science

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Why Beliefs Matter

Author : E. Brian Davies
ISBN : 9780199586202
Genre : Mathematics
File Size : 23. 55 MB
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`It is a brilliant work, beautifully written, and brimming with surprising information and stimulating philosophical speculations.' Notices of teh American Mathematical Society --

Science In The Looking Glass

Author : Edward Brian Davies
ISBN : 9780198525431
Genre : Science
File Size : 75. 29 MB
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In this wide-ranging book, Brian Davies discusses the basis for scientists' claims to knowledge about the world. He looks at science historically, emphasizing not only the achievements of scientists from Galileo onwards, but also their mistakes. He rejects the claim that all scientific knowledge is provisional, by citing examples from chemistry, biology and geology. A major feature of the book is its defense of the view that mathematics was invented rather than discovered. A large number of examples are used to illustrate these points, and many of the deep issues in today's world discussed-from psychology and evolution to quantum theory, consciousness and even religious belief. Disentangling knowledge from opinion and aspiration is a hard task, but this book provided a clear guide to the difficulties.

The Outer Limits Of Reason

Author : Noson S. Yanofsky
ISBN : 9780262316781
Genre : Science
File Size : 43. 11 MB
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Many books explain what is known about the universe. This book investigates what cannot be known. Rather than exploring the amazing facts that science, mathematics, and reason have revealed to us, this work studies what science, mathematics, and reason tell us cannot be revealed. In The Outer Limits of Reason, Noson Yanofsky considers what cannot be predicted, described, or known, and what will never be understood. He discusses the limitations of computers, physics, logic, and our own thought processes.Yanofsky describes simple tasks that would take computers trillions of centuries to complete and other problems that computers can never solve; perfectly formed English sentences that make no sense; different levels of infinity; the bizarre world of the quantum; the relevance of relativity theory; the causes of chaos theory; math problems that cannot be solved by normal means; and statements that are true but cannot be proven. He explains the limitations of our intuitions about the world -- our ideas about space, time, and motion, and the complex relationship between the knower and the known.Moving from the concrete to the abstract, from problems of everyday language to straightforward philosophical questions to the formalities of physics and mathematics, Yanofsky demonstrates a myriad of unsolvable problems and paradoxes. Exploring the various limitations of our knowledge, he shows that many of these limitations have a similar pattern and that by investigating these patterns, we can better understand the structure and limitations of reason itself. Yanofsky even attempts to look beyond the borders of reason to see what, if anything, is out there.

The Sacred Depths Of Nature

Author : Ursula Goodenough
ISBN : 9780195136296
Genre : Nature
File Size : 84. 87 MB
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For many of us, the scientific breakthroughs of our times--the Big Bang, evolution, quantum physics, and relativity--denote an existence that is bleak, devoid of meaning, or pointless. But here, eminent biologist Goodenough shows how the scientific worldview need not be a source of despair. Indeed, it can be a wellspring of solace and hope. This eloquent volume reconciles our contemporary scientific understanding of reality with our timeless spiritual yearnings for reverence and continuity. Addressing ideas like evolution, emotions, sexuality, and death, The Sacred Depths of Nature brings rich, uncluttered detail to the workings of nature in general and of living creatures in particular. Goodenough's clear thinking and writing will allow even non-scientists to appreciate that the origins of life and the universe are no less meaningful in light of our scientific understanding of them. At the end of each chapter, her spiritual reflections respond to nature's complexity with a vibrant emotional intensity and sense of reverent wonder.

Spectral Theory And Differential Operators

Author : E. Brian Davies
ISBN : 0521587107
Genre : Mathematics
File Size : 70. 44 MB
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In this book, Davies introduces the reader to the theory of partial differential operators, up to the spectral theorem for bounded linear operators on Banach spaces. He also describes the theory of Fourier transforms and distributions as far as is needed to analyze the spectrum of any constant coefficient partial differential operator. He also presents a completely new proof of the spectral theorem for unbounded self-adjoint operators and demonstrates its application to a variety of second order elliptic differential operators. Finally, the book contains a detailed account of the application of variational methods to estimate the eigenvalues of operators with measurable coefficients defined by the use of quadratic form techniques. Illustrated with many examples, it is well-suited to graduate-level work.

Ever Since Darwin Reflections In Natural History

Author : Stephen Jay Gould
ISBN : 9780393340419
Genre : Science
File Size : 49. 43 MB
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More than any other modern scientists, Stephen Jay Gould has opened up to millions the wonders of evolutionary biology. His genius as an essayist lies in his unmatched ability to use his knowledge of the world, including popular culture, to illuminate the realm of science. Ever Since Darwin, Stephen Jay Gould's first book, has sold more than a quarter of a million copies. Like all succeeding collections by this unique writer, it brings the art of the scientific essay to unparalleled heights.

The Structure Of Scientific Revolutions

Author : Thomas S. Kuhn
ISBN : 9780226458144
Genre : Science
File Size : 48. 7 MB
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A good book may have the power to change the way we see the world, but a great book actually becomes part of our daily consciousness, pervading our thinking to the point that we take it for granted, and we forget how provocative and challenging its ideas once were—and still are. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is that kind of book. When it was first published in 1962, it was a landmark event in the history and philosophy of science. Fifty years later, it still has many lessons to teach. With The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Kuhn challenged long-standing linear notions of scientific progress, arguing that transformative ideas don’t arise from the day-to-day, gradual process of experimentation and data accumulation but that the revolutions in science, those breakthrough moments that disrupt accepted thinking and offer unanticipated ideas, occur outside of “normal science,” as he called it. Though Kuhn was writing when physics ruled the sciences, his ideas on how scientific revolutions bring order to the anomalies that amass over time in research experiments are still instructive in our biotech age. This new edition of Kuhn’s essential work in the history of science includes an insightful introduction by Ian Hacking, which clarifies terms popularized by Kuhn, including paradigm and incommensurability, and applies Kuhn’s ideas to the science of today. Usefully keyed to the separate sections of the book, Hacking’s introduction provides important background information as well as a contemporary context. Newly designed, with an expanded index, this edition will be eagerly welcomed by the next generation of readers seeking to understand the history of our perspectives on science.

Rocks Of Ages

Author : Stephen Jay Gould
ISBN : 9780307801418
Genre : Science
File Size : 63. 87 MB
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"People of good will wish to see science and religion at peace. . . . I do not see how science and religion could be unified, or even synthesized, under any common scheme of explanation or analysis; but I also do not understand why the two enterprises should experience any conflict." So states internationally renowned evolutionist and bestselling author Stephen Jay Gould in the simple yet profound thesis of his brilliant new book. Writing with bracing intelligence and elegant clarity, Gould sheds new light on a dilemma that has plagued thinking people since the Renaissance. Instead of choosing between science and religion, Gould asks, why not opt for a golden mean that accords dignity and distinction to each realm? At the heart of Gould's penetrating argument is a lucid, contemporary principle he calls NOMA (for nonoverlapping magisteria)--a "blessedly simple and entirely conventional resolution" that allows science and religion to coexist peacefully in a position of respectful noninterference. Science defines the natural world; religion, our moral world, in recognition of their separate spheres of influence. In elaborating and exploring this thought-provoking concept, Gould delves into the history of science, sketching affecting portraits of scientists and moral leaders wrestling with matters of faith and reason. Stories of seminal figures such as Galileo, Darwin, and Thomas Henry Huxley make vivid his argument that individuals and cultures must cultivate both a life of the spirit and a life of rational inquiry in order to experience the fullness of being human. In his bestselling books Wonderful Life, The Mismeasure of Man, and Questioning the Millennium, Gould has written on the abundance of marvels in human history and the natural world. In Rocks of Ages, Gould's passionate humanism, ethical discernment, and erudition are fused to create a dazzling gem of contemporary cultural philosophy. As the world's preeminent Darwinian theorist writes, "I believe, with all my heart, in a respectful, even loving concordat between . . . science and religion." From the Hardcover edition.

The Pea And The Sun

Author : Leonard M. Wapner
ISBN : 1568813279
Genre : Mathematics
File Size : 75. 7 MB
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Take an apple and cut it into five pieces. Would you believe that these five pieces can be reassembled in such a fashion so as to create two apples equal in shape and size to the original? Would you believe that you could make something as large as the sun by breaking a pea into a finite number of pieces and putting it back together again? Neither did Leonard Wapner, author of The Pea and the Sun, when he was first introduced to the Banach-Tarski paradox, which asserts exactly such a notion. Written in an engaging style, The Pea and the Sun catalogues the people, events, and mathematics that contributed to the discovery of Banach and Tarski's magical paradox. Wapner makes one of the most interesting problems of advanced mathematics accessible to the non-mathematician.

Belief In God In An Age Of Science

Author : John Polkinghorne
ISBN : 9780300174106
Genre : Religion
File Size : 26. 99 MB
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John Polkinghorne is a major figure in today’s debates over the compatibility of science and religion. Internationally known as both a theoretical physicist and a theologian—the only ordained member of the Royal Society—Polkinghorne brings unique qualifications to his inquiry into the possibilities of believing in God in an age of science. In this thought-provoking book, the author focuses on the collegiality between science and theology, contending that these "intellectual cousins" are both concerned with interpreted experience and with the quest for truth about reality. He argues eloquently that scientific and theological inquiries are parallel. The book begins with a discussion of what belief in God can mean in our times. Polkinghorne explores a new natural theology and emphasizes the importance of moral and aesthetic experience and the human intuition of value and hope. In other chapters, he compares science’s struggle to understand the nature of light with Christian theology’s struggle to understand the nature of Christ. He addresses the question, Does God act in the physical world? And he extends his ideas about the role of chaos theory, surveys the prospects for future dialogue between scientific and theological thinkers, and defends a critical realist understanding of the activities of both disciplines. Polkinghorne concludes with a consideration of the nature of mathematical truths and the links between the complementary realities of physical and mental experience.

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