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

Faraday to Einstein

Constructing Meaning in Scientific Theories

Hardcover

Published: 30th September 1984
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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.

I. The Philosophical Situation: A Critical Appraisal.- 1: The 'standard' account of meaning.- 1.1 General characterization.- 1.1 The 'double-language' view.- 2: 'Meaning variance' and 'incommensurability'.- 2.1 The 'network' view.- 2.2 Shipwrecked.- 2.3 Is there meaning after Feyerabend?.- II. The Scientific Situation: An Historical Analysis.- 3: Faraday's 'lines of force'.- 3.1 Initial conception.- 3.2 Electromagnetic rotations.- 3.3 Electromagnetic induction.- 3.4 Electrostatic induction.- 3.5 Magnetic induction.- 3.6 The aether.- 3.7 Summary: Faraday's concept of field.- 4: Maxwell's 'Newtonian aether-field'.- 4.1 The "representative lines of force".- 4.2 The method of "physical analogy".- 4.3 The "physical lines of force".- 4.4 'Mechanical' to 'dynamical'.- 4.5 Summary: Maxwell's concept of field.- 5: Lorentz' 'non-Newtonian aether-field'.- 5.1 An enigmatic scientist.- 5.2 Rapprochement.- 5.3 The immobile aether.- 5.4 Lorentz' interpretation of the 'Lorentz transformations'.- 5.5 Summary: L'ether pour toujours.- 6: Einstein's 'field'.- 6.1 Critical reflections.- 6.2 'Electromagnetic field' in the special theory.- 6.3 Introduction: The gravitational field concept.- III. The Making of Meaning: A Proposal.- 7: Meaning in scientific practice.- 7.1 Constructing the field concept.- 7.2 'Meaning schemata' and commensurability.- Notes.

ISBN: 9789024729975
ISBN-10: 9024729971
Series: Science and Philosophy
Audience: Professional
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 196
Published: 30th September 1984
Publisher: Springer
Country of Publication: NL
Dimensions (cm): 29.7 x 21.0  x 1.75
Weight (kg): 1.05