On Science: Concepts, Cultures, and Limits explores science and its relationship with religion, philosophy, ethics, mathematics, and with socio-economic changes.
The book gives an overview of the metaphysical contexts in which science emerged and the particular forms science has taken in history. It examines the preoccupation of ancient cultures with the validity of interpretations of natural phenomena, the role of the study of materials in the substantiation of the conceptual world, and the establishment of modern science on both experimentation and mathematics. This theoretical discussion is illustrated by a host of examples from physics to the life sciences, which highlight how current concepts developed over the centuries, or even millennia.
The volume underscores some of the weaknesses inherent in a scientific approach, and how in the modern context of a wealth-driven technological orientation, these have been conducive to a gradual distortion of science into its exact opposite, a dogmatic faith. It further discusses the nature of scientific education in the world, and how conditions can be created to ensure pioneering creativity and to preserve scientific rigor.
The book will be of great interest to scholars, teachers and researchers of science, the metaphysics and philosophy of science, mathematics, science and technology studies, epistemology, ethics, history and sociology. It will also be useful for general readers who are interested in the history of scientific discoveries and ideas as well as in the issues surrounding science today, in particular its relations with many urgent problems.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements. Prologue. Part I: On Science 1. What is Science? 2. Science in the Service of All-Comprehensive Truth 3. Science in the Service of External Truth 4. On Mathematics 5. Knowledge of Materials Part II: Some Glimpses of Science in Action 6. The Physics of Motion 7. From Atoms to Geological Questions 8. The Life Sciences 9. Evolving Perceptions Part III: from Science to Dogma 10. The Shortcomings of Science 11. Science in Context 12. In the Name of Science 13. Scientism: A New Creed 14. Science and Our Future Epilogue. Bibliography. Index.
Tuhina Ray (formerly Ghose) read physics at Presidency College, she was the recipient of the Bhabatarini Medal and Bhranti Basu Medal in 1947, and of the Roxburgh Gold Medal in 1949, the best university student at the postgraduate level award in science in 1953, she obtained a D.Phil. from the University of Calcutta in 1956, and was appointed as a Reader at the Saha Institute of Fundamental Research. Forced by political circumstances, she and her family left India in 1967 and she held research positions in academic institutions of France and Germany. A keen sportswoman in her student days, her broad interests and erudition took her to diverse horizons. She passed away in 2018.
Urmie Ray read mathematics at the University of Cambridge, U.K., completing her Ph.d. under the guidance of Professor J. G. Thompson. After 20 years as an academic mathematician, she resigned her professorship in France to dedicate herself to her lifelong interests in cultural and historical questions in order to better understand current issues.