INQUIRY INTO SCIENCE: Its Domain and Limits by Richard Schlegel

INQUIRY INTO SCIENCE: Its Domain and Limits

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Schlegel investigates the limits of scientific knowledge in this study aimed at the non-scientific audience. Science, as he describes it, is limited at the microscopic level by uncertainty relations, and at the macroscopic level by our inability to study more than a fraction of the universe. The very nature of scientific theories as logical systems sets further limits on scientific explanation, for science cannot explain its own axioms and first principles. This job, Schlegel says, must be left to the humanities: art and religion deal with the non-logical or intuitive side of human behavior. Schlegel posits a sort of dualism between the two cultures which he speculates may be overcome in the future. Although this might be useful in countering naive ideas about the omniscience of science, Schlegel forgets that the limitations he describes are themselves scientific hypotheses and have only relative validity. More important, he leaves entirely unanswered the most crucial question: how do we know what truth science contains at all? Without dealing with epistemology, his work remains a superficial popularization.

Pub Date: Jan. 21st, 1971
Publisher: Doubleday