EISENSTEIN'S SPACE AND VAN GOGH'S SKY: Physical Reality and Beyond by Lawrence & Henry Margenau LeShan

EISENSTEIN'S SPACE AND VAN GOGH'S SKY: Physical Reality and Beyond

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Psychologist LeShan and physicist Margenau met at a conference on human potentialities, found their interests congenial, and now have jointly produced a new vision of science; or epistemology; or metaphysics. Essentially, they eschew reductionism, determinism, dualism, monism, and even the modish Kuhnian notions of consensual paradigms and scientific revolutions; instead, they opt for pluralism--the not-terribly-new idea of separate domains of reality that are not mutually contradictory but compatible, even ""transcendentally"" compatible. Thus, there are the domain of the very small, the sense-touch domain, the domain of the very big, the domain of behavior, the inner domain, etc. Certain procedural questions are common to all: ""What are the observables here? What kinds of measurements can we make? What laws relating to observables can we hypothesize and test? What do the terms 'space,' 'time,' 'state,' 'observer,' mean. . .?"" (LeShan discourses similarly on the domain of health and medicine in The Mechanic and the Gardener, p. 714.) Though many examples are cited, especially from the history of physics, and the text is laced with apposite quotes and anecdotes, the authors' ardor reaches the point of tendentiousness early on. Chapter after chapter deplores reductionism or rehearses arguments on the nature of scientific truth, experiments, etc. Only toward the end do LeShan and Margenau explore applications of their method to the study of art, parapsychology, ethics, consciousness. They suggest, for example, that the laws of group dynamics, and other principles from social sciences, should be employed in parapsychology to see if they are predictive of phenomena associated with ESP. They also contend that too many parapsychologists have themselves been eager to fit their reality within the domain of physics. Even here, however, the approach is tentative, the meaning of words often elusive. (Is mind consciousness? The authors don't say.) In sum, mostly talk about, against, or in favor of one or another philosophical approach--and little of new substance.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1982
Publisher: Macmillan