Skip to: navigation | content

08. Peter R. Dear, History

Peter Dear
Dear Book

Peter Dear

The Intelligibility of Nature: How Science Makes Sense of the World (University of Chicago Press, 2006). Between the time of Decartes and Lavoisier, natural philosophy and practical scientific techniques merged, giving rise to modern science. In this history of modern science—from 1600 to 1950, from the natural philosopher to the scientist—Dear examines the tension between theory and practicality or the application of science. He demonstrates how both have been essential to the advancement of science. He considers the cultural authority and prestige of science: when we want to know how something in the natural world works, we ask a scientist. Scientists like Galileo, Descartes, Newton, Darwin, Mendal, and Einstein have been revered throughout history. They have provided profound and sustaining insights into the meaning of the universe. Using the work of these and other scientists, Dear illustrates how the very different principles of knowing and doing were united as a new enterprise—science—practiced by a new kind of person, a scientist. He summarizes the divergence of the two scientific methodologies by contrasting Einstein and Bohr. Einstein wanted physics to speak of a world that exists independently of human observation, whereas Bohr wanted quantum mechanics to be viewed as necessary to how the world works—he considered quantum mechanics a discovery, not a theory. What quantum mechanics could not know, Bohr believed, humans could not know.

› Top  /  › Next Article  /  › Back to Listing