A groundbreaking solution to the problem of induction, based on Ayn Rand's theory of concepts.
Inspired by and expanding on a series of lectures presented by Leonard Peikoff, David Harriman presents a fascinating answer to the problem of induction-the epistemological question of how we can know the truth of inductive generalizations. Ayn Rand presented her revolutionary theory of concepts in her book Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. As Dr. Peikoff subsequently explored the concept of induction, he sought out David Harriman, a physicist who had taught philosophy, for his expert knowledge of the scientific discovery process. Here, Harriman presents the result of a collaboration between scientist and philosopher.
Beginning with a detailed discussion of the role of mathematics and experimentation in validating generalizations in physics-looking closely at the reasoning of scientists such as Galileo, Kepler, Newton, Lavoisier, and Maxwell-Harriman skillfully argues that the inductive method used in philosophy is in principle indistinguishable from the method used in physics.
Ayn Rand fans and science geeks rejoice: Objectivism's intellectual heir Leonard Peikoff joins forces with Defense Department physicist David Harriman to bring you this treatise on the proliferation of irrationality in postmodern scientific theory. Peikoff knows his philosophy and Harriman knows his science. Prepare for the brave new worlds of quantum mechanics and string theory to be crushed between them.
Your energetic guide through the quirky business of quarks is narrator Erik Singer, expert teacher of speech and dialects. In addition to capably mimicking that weirdo physics teacher you had in high school, he showcases the full range of his European accents. As Harriman charts a course from the scientific method of ancient Greece to the bogus speculations of modern Germany, Singer does each and every quotation in the accent of its author. Most gratifying, of course, is his light Russian accenting on the choice bits of Ayn Rand in Peikoff's introduction and introductory chapter.
The first two-thirds of the book outline a history of the scientific method from the Objectivist viewpoint. From Galileo to Newton to Kepler, from astronomy to chemistry to physics, Harriman identifies major breakthroughs and corresponding missteps in well-known scientific discoveries as they relate to the problem of induction. The problem is whether induction, or generalization, is a reasonable way to draw conclusions. Harriman argues that good scientists uses math and experiment to prove inductive conclusions, and that the same principle can be applied to inductive conclusions in philosophy.
If you have an interest in Ayn Rand's theory of concepts and are willing to wade through all the physics, this is the book for you. Or if you have an interest in physics and are willing to sit through the hyperbole and didacticism that are threaded throughout the Objectivist interpretation, this is the book for you. Singer's voice work goes a long way to make this tome palatable, but it is for those with strength of mind, not for those faint of heart. —Megan Volpert
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