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Faraday to Einstein : Constructing Meaning in Scientific Theories - N.J. Nersessian

Faraday to Einstein

Constructing Meaning in Scientific Theories

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Published: 31st October 1990
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Einstein often expressed the sentiment that "the eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility," and that science is the means through which we comprehend it. However, nearly every­ one - including scientists - agrees that the concepts of modem physics are quite incomprehensible: They are both unintelligible to the educated lay-person and to the scientific community itself, where there is much dispute over the interpretation of even (and especially) the most basic concepts. There is, of course, almost universal agreement that modem science quite adequately accounts for and predicts events, i. e. , that its calculations work better than those of classical physics; yet the concepts of science are supposed to be descriptive of 'the world' as well - they should enable us to comprehend it. So, it is asked, and needs tobe"asked: Has modem physics failed in an important respect? It failed with me as a physics student. I came to physics, as with most naIve students, out of a desire to know what the world is really like; in particular, to understand Einstein's conception of it. I thought I had grasped the concepts in classical mechanics, but with electrodynamics confusion set in and only increased with relativity and quantum mechanics. At that point I began even to doubt whether I had really understood the basic concepts of classical mechanics.

Preface
Acknowledgements
Errata
The Philosophical Situation: A Critical Appraisal
Introductionp. 3
The 'standard' account of meaningp. 5
General characterizationp. 5
The 'double-language' viewp. 9
'Meaning variance' and 'incommensurability'p. 13
The 'network' viewp. 13
Shipwreckedp. 17
Is there meaning after Feyerabend?p. 23
The Scientific Situation: An Historical Analysis
Introductionp. 33
Faraday's 'lines of force'p. 37
Initial conceptionp. 37
Electromagnetic rotationsp. 39
Electromagnetic inductionp. 42
Electrostatic inductionp. 47
Magnetic inductionp. 54
The aetherp. 64
Summary: Faraday's concept of fieldp. 65
Maxwell's 'Newtonian aether-field'p. 69
The "representative lines of force"p. 69
The method of "physical analogy"p. 72
The "physical lines of force"p. 74
'Mechanical' to 'dynamical'p. 86
Summary: Maxwell's concept of fieldp. 92
Lorentz' 'non-Newtonian aether-field'p. 95
An enigmatic scientistp. 95
Rapprochementp. 98
The immobile aetherp. 104
Lorentz' interpretation of the 'Lorentz transformations'p. 110
Summary: L'ether pour toujoursp. 113
Einstein's 'field'p. 121
Critical reflectionsp. 121
'Electromagnetic field' in the special theoryp. 127
Introduction: The gravitational field conceptp. 135
The Making of Meaning: A Proposal
Introductionp. 143
Meaning in scientific practicep. 144
Constructing the field conceptp. 144
'Meaning schemata' and commensurabilityp. 153
Notesp. 161
Bibliographyp. 179
Indexp. 195
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780792309505
ISBN-10: 0792309502
Series: Science and Philosophy
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 196
Published: 31st October 1990
Publisher: Springer
Country of Publication: NL
Dimensions (cm): 23.39 x 15.6  x 1.14
Weight (kg): 0.3
Edition Type: New edition