II. Logic as the Essence of Philosophy. III. On our Knowledge of the External World. IV. The World of Physics and the World of Sense. V. The Theory of Continuity. Free site book and epub digitized and proofread by Project Gutenberg. BERTRAND RUSSELL. OUR KNOWLEDGE. OF THE. EXTERNAL WORLD. AS A FIELD FOR SCIENTIFIC. METHOD IN PHILOSOPHY. GEORGE ALLEN & U.

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The speculations of the past as to the reality or unreality of the world of physics were baffled, at the outset, by the absence of any satisfactory theory of the mathematical infinite. This difficulty has been removed by the work of Georg Cantor. But the positive and detailed solution of the problem by means of mathematical constructions based upon sensible objects as data has only been rendered possible by the growth of mathematical logic, without which it is practically impossible to manipulate ideas of the requisite abstractness and complexity.

This aspect, which is somewhat obscured in a merely popular outline such as is contained in the following lectures, will become plain as soon as Dr. In pure logic, which, however, will be very briefly discussed in these lectures, I have had the benefit of vitally important discoveries, not yet published, by my friend Mr.

Ludwig Wittgenstein. Since my purpose was to illustrate method, I have included much that is tentative and incomplete, for it is not by the study of finished structures alone that the manner of construction can be learnt.

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In other words, says Simplicio, "There are no separate phe- nomena, but every phenomenon preceived individually belongs to a whole into which it is integrated.

Bohr's principle of complementarity is discussed as "one of the greatest discoveries in the scientific history of mankind, with ramifications on many other levels of science". Why do we have two hands and two feet?

Why do our eyes see only a tiny fraction of the spectrum? Why is our earth finite and constructed as it is?

And why should Planck's constant have exact- ly the value that it has? It is a history of surprises, errors, confusion and daring vision, it is truly a scientific mutation". And Salviati proceeds to emphasize the basic complemen- tarity which pervades the physical universe.

While Simplicio is enthralled by the glories of classical physics and "realistic" description, Salviati draws attention to the immensely rich world of microphysics and how all of physics could indeed be treated as being essentially quantal.

This leads to a discussion of the dialectic of "reality" and the validity of physical laws. The consideration of the variation of fundamental universal constants with time is recalled, and, if it were admit- ted, "the spell of the sanctity of physical laws is broken, and everything might be a possible". In the incompatibility of the uniqueness of the individual and the scientific statements one might want to make about such an individual, Sagredo finds an example of the all-pervading princi- ple of complementarity which excludes the simultaneous applicabi- lity of concepts to the "real" objects of our world.

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Reality, therefore, is not this or that object endowed with objectively given properties, nor is it the content of our cons- ciousness or the idealized concepts which we use for imagining the inner coherence of elementary experiences.

All these things are relative, as is brought out by the striking examples treated in the dialogue. Reality is found in the meaning, significance and relevance of a message, a perception or a concept within the context of a given situation.

A variety of sense perceptions are received and registered by a process of filtering which separates the signals representing the noise from those containing the message.

The im- portant point is this: Different filters reveal different and complementary messages, all of which have equal claim to reality. Salviati considers this the essential content of Bohr's prin- ciple of complementarity, without which quantum mechanics seems to give an incomplete description of reality.

And the debate of the three friends reveals the universal significance of comple- mentarity and its discovery in microphysics as one of the most important epistemological revolutions in the intellectual history of mankind. As Salviati says, in conclusion: Josef M. Jauch has written a noble document which transcends the function of merely interpreting the essential philosophical and epistomologi- cal premises of the quantum principle. The device of a dialogue between the immortal Galilean interlocutors brings out the dialec- tic of reality in a manner that a mere philosophical essay could never do.

Such a device, in less detail and perhaps less successfully, was employed by Hermann Weyl in his dialogue between Saints Peter and Paul on the question of inertia and the cosmos 6.

While Weyl's saints had the blessing of a view from heaven, Jauch's three Galilean friends must come to terms here on earth with the problem of determining the reality of observation and experience and integrating this knowledge with personal destiny.

Jauch has recorded how well they have acquitted themselves in their inquiry. Well, are quanta "real" 1 As Dirac remarked, "It is like asking: Is God real 1" The libraries of the world and the memory of mankind are filled with attempts to answer this question.

Has it been answered once and for all 1 Has the Madonna been painted, and has the Sphinx lost her smile 1 This is the deep dilemma in man's search for knowledge and truth, and Simplicio's dream on the night preceding the dialogue on the third day points it out.

Our Knowledge of the External World as a Field for Scientific Method in

The mysterious boon-giver, the Green Man in his dream, exhorts Simplicio to "find the unknown road to truth. But remember, you can have only one wish, the rest is up to you. The world disappears and is replaced by the largest libra- ry, extending to infinity in all directions with stacks and stacks of books, containing every thing that ever was and will ever be written in any language of the past or future. Simplicio asks the librarian for a book containing the cor- rect theory of elementary particles which explains all known facts about them.

Well, which correct theory 1 There are of them that will fit all the known facts. Simplicio falls into a deep depression, which is the universal depression of the intelligent man curious for knowledge. The sum of all the facts, of all the bits of knowledge, does not add up to the whole truth; there is a complementarity between the whole and the sum of its parts.

When the choice is given us we choose the bits. We choose the corridors of books rather than the vision of truth, the whole truth.

That is the original sin, the damnation of the merely cu- rious. For if the choice and the possibility were given to be led along the unknown road to truth, and we took it, we would be one with the whole truth and the Sphinx would throw herself into the ocean. As it is, we trudge the corridors of knowledge and the Sphinx keeps her sullen smile.

Our Knowledge of the External World as a Field for Scientific Method in Philosophy

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Moore tries to prove the existence of the external world. He acknowledges the argument that one cannot be certain that one is, for instance, standing: one can be merely dreaming that they are standing, being deceived by their senses. It seems simple enough, but Moore refutes this. He argues that he knows that he is standing. Since he knows that he is standing, he can say that he knows that he is not dreaming. Quite simply, how does he know he is standing?

He justifies that he is not dreaming by claiming to know something, but he cannot justify his knowledge with anything but his senses. And senses are not always reliable.Another form in which the question is often put is " Can we know of the existence of any reality which is " This form of the question independent of ourselves?

If we are to account for the blue appearance of objects other than the spectacles. Instants may also be defined by means of the enclosure-relation.

Euclid begins with a foundation of first principles — definitions, postulates, and axioms or common notions — on which he then bases a superstructure of further propositions.

There is a special section in the purgatory for professors of quantum theory, where they will be obliged to listen to lectures on classical physics ten hours every day.

Since the difference between these is one of syntax, or the rules that govern the language, we should attach no cognitive value to the choice. They would prove.

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