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Paperback Scientific Outlook -Op/101 Book

ISBN: 0393001377

ISBN13: 9780393001372

Scientific Outlook -Op/101

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Book Overview

According to Bertrand Russell, science is knowledge; that which seeks general laws connecting a number of particular facts. It is, he argues, far superior to art, where much of the knowledge is... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

3 ratings

"Not all wisdom is new, nor is all folly out of date"

This work is an attempt to define the characteristics of the scientific process, identify the techniques as in the application of it to various disciplines and finally Russell makes certain conjectures about how a scientific society might eventually end up. The book is divided into 3 main sections, - Scientific Knowledge - Scientific Technique - Scientific Society The part that I liked the most is 'Scientific Knowledge'; especially the discussion pertaining to science, metaphysics and religion. In addition to identifying the characteristics of the scientific process (observation, inductive and deductive reasoning, experimentation, approximation etc) Russell provides a nice explanation about the limitations of this process. Topics such as the validity of the inductive reasoning, inference and the questions/concerns about the abstractness of theoretical physics is discussed in a very interesting manner. In the chapter 'Science and Religion' Russell takes on Sir Arthur Eddington and Sir James Jeans for speculating the possibility of the existence of a creator; Russell replies to Eddington's use of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle to imply the lack of causality and James Jeans thesis of "God as a Mathematician" get a fair amount of dressing down with Russell finally remarking "one does not quite see what can have been gained by creating so such muddle-headedness" I'm not sure if I gained anything much from the section 'Scientific Technique'. When Russell wrote this book the application of science to biology, physiology and psychology was in its infancy; it does, however, give a snapshot of those early days. The third section speculates about how a scientific society might look like in the future - a recurring theme in many of his writings; it talks about the ruling oligarchies employing science to gain control. Topics touched upon here include education, eugenics and others. The book ends with a nice chapter entitled 'Science and Values' where Russell looks down upon "power science" and says "Thus it is only in so far as we renounce the world as its lovers that we can conquer it as its technicians" Overall, a nice book; if you have read Russell's other books related to science and society you will notice quite a bit of an overlap.

Science meets Philosophy (again)

This book is a series of essays grouped together into three sections. Scientific Knowledge is a primer on how the role it plays in overall thinking and philosophy. There is more to establishing an ideology than science and it needs to work in conjunction with the arts for example. The second section is the "How To" of the Scientific Method and the third is a scary portrayal of how a purely scientific world society might end up. It was originally published about the same time as 1984 and Brave New World all three of these writers obviously saw the potential risk of what Russell describes as science for power's sake rather than for the love of knowledge and learning. Many years ago I read much if not all of these essays about the value of the Scientific Method (or Technique as he says). I was won over and as a student of Social Sciences I attempted to use the method to the best of my ability. I also appreciated his socially liberal outlook that can be seen throughout. Years hence, upon re-reading the book I find that I still appreciate the writing but I have been inured in my thinking that the world will be a better place with the Scientific Method playing a larger role in policy making. Some of Russell's sentiment of 1931 does not play that well today, such as his tempered admiration for the USSR but many others should his prescient thinking. Those incident's were many but I will only present one and that is because I saw it as true but funny in a melancholy way. In the third section he describes how people in the scientific world society will have no wars and therefore will have to have death defying games in order for those personality types to be able to vent there lust. Today we have reality television.

The most influential science fiction source of all time?

Unlike the many other great literary inspirations of the science fiction writers of the of the twentieth century, this book is not a work of science fiction.As its name suggests, The Scientific Outlook, is an attempt to predict the next developments in science as seen from the perspective of the early 1930's.The contents of this book were so outrageous and shocking in their time that they were best appreciated by those people who saw it as their business to show our destiny taking an unexpected turn, painting a picture of a time to come when things contrast radically with our current circumstances.There are instances where such predictive storytelling is intended as a warning, attempting to offer an insight into how seemingly innocuous trends and apparently insignificant contemporary changes portend unforeseen (but not unforeseeable) catastrophic longer term outcomes.Science fiction writing has a major category called 'technological extrapolation' in which the above occurs, and within that genre there is a subcategory called 'dystopia' which uses such crystal gazing to present a kind of 'negative utopia' where 'it all ends in tears'.The two most famous twentieth century dystopias, two 'worlds turned upside down', are Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley, and '1984' by George Orwell.Both of these great works have very strong connections to this book, the former being substantially derived from it.Aldous Huxley was Russell's student and published Brave New World a year after The Scientific Outlook.Orwell was strongly influenced in '1984' by Burnham's 1940 classic 'The Managerial Revolution' which has strong parallels with 'The Scientific Outlook' (although Russell claims no direct influence on Burnham, he points out the similarity of Burnham's material, which was published nearly a decade after Russell's book).Even if the similarity to the predictions in `The Managerial Revolution' was a freakish coincidence, the connection to Brave New world is unquestionable and the shared dystopian derivations are `of a piece' with 1984 to the extent where, if you want to `go back to the source' in an easily readable form (Russell's writing is razor sharp and witty, with all the historical context you could wish for in a popular science book) you could not ask for a better starting point in terms of understanding the technological roots of those two great novels.An enjoyable and insightful read, essential for anyone trying to get to grips with the recent history and philosophy of science, especially in the highly controversial field of medical ethics, where it is possible to see eugenics from a standpoint which preceded its post-war ethical and political denunciation.
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