Download Beyond Science: The Wider Human Context (Canto original by John Polkinghorne PDF

By John Polkinghorne

John Polkinghorne has had a unusual profession as a particle physicist and as an writer of books exploring topics in technological know-how and faith. In past technology Polkinghorne examines the character of clinical inquiry itself and the human context within which technology operates. The e-book appears at problems with which means and price, corresponding to medical festival and subjectivity, in addition to simpler elements of the self-discipline similar to the convention circuit and the nurturing of latest examine.

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The theoretical insights of science are then seen as the imposition of a pattern of meaning on a veiled and elusive reality, rather than as reliable inferences from encounter with its actual nature. The most extreme critics of this kind are those who see science as being largely, or even totally, a social construction. Thus, the sociologist Barry Barnes can propose that 'all knowledge generation and cultural growth should be regarded as endlessly dynamic and Page 9 susceptible to alteration just as is human activity itself, with any actual change or advance a matter of agreement and not necessity'.

Lee and C. N. Yang, made the brilliantly simple suggestion that maybe particles in these types of decay did not have to have a unique form of behaviour under reflection. That meant there could be just one kind of meson involved, after all. Lee and Yang had made the great discovery Page 6 again of Nobel calibre that what we call parity is not conserved in weak decays. They made their discovery by looking at those meson decays in a new way. They saw the physical world differently from the way in which their colleagues did.

Yet, one also recognizes the cumulative fruitfulness of the history of science whereby, for instance, the successive levels of the structure of matter from atoms to nuclei to protons and neutrons to quarks and gluons have been unravelled. Does it not seem difficult to deny that here science is telling us something to be taken absolutely seriously about the structure of the physical world in which we live? Not everyone, however, has seen it that way. Some reject what they term a 'Whig view of history' in the account of scientific progress, emphasizing instead the occasions of discontinuity, as when Ptolemy gives way to Copernicus, or Newton is replaced by Einstein and Bohr.

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