This book is written by a philosopher for other philosophers and for that section of the reading public who buy in large quantities and, no doubt, devour with great earnestness the popular books written by scientists for their enlightenment. We common readers, to adapt a phrase from Samuel Johnson, are fitted neither to criticize physical theories not to decide what precisely are their implications.
We are dependent upon the scientists for an exposition of those developments which – so we find them proclaiming – have important and far-reaching consequences for philosophy. Unfortunately, however, our popular expositors do not always serve us very well. The two who are most widely read in this country are Sir Arthur Eddington and Sir James Jeans. They are not always reliable guides. Their influence has been considerable upon the reading public, upon theologians, and upon preachers; they have even misled philosopher who should have known better. Accordingly, it has seemed to me to be worth while to examine in some detail the philosophical views that they have put forth and to criticize the grounds upon which these views are based.
Table of Contents
THE ALARMING ASTRONOMERS
Chapter I The Common Reader and The Popularizing Scientist
Chapter II The Escape of Sir James Jeans
The Physicist and The World
Chapter III ‘Furniture of the Earth’
Chapter IV ‘The Symbolic World of Physics’
Chapter V The Descent to the Inscrutable
Chapter VI Consequences of Scrutinizing the Inscrutable
Causality and Human Freedom
Chapter VII The Nineteenth-Century Nightmare
Chapter VIII The Rejection of Physical Determinism
Chapter IX Reactions and Consequences
Chapter X Human Freedom and Responsibility
The Changed Outlook
Chapter XI Entropy and Becoming
Chapter XII Interpretations
Lizzie Susan Stebbing gained a DLitt in 1931 and was promoted to professor in 1933, the first woman to hold a philosophy chair in the United Kingdom. She was also a visiting professor at Columbia University from 1931 to 1932. She was president of the Mind Association from 1931 to 1932 and the Aristotelian Society from 1933 to 1934.