Originally published in 1969. Since the seventeenth century the kind of knowledge afforded by mathematical physics has come more and more to furnish mankind with an ideal for all knowledge. The ideal also carries with it a new conception of the nature of things: all things whatsoever are held to be intelligible ultimately in terms of the laws of inanimate nature. This reductionist formula can be overcome only by the fundamental rethinking of our philosophical premises. To contribute towards thsi rethinking was the aim of the Study Group at whose meetings this collection originated. The essayists come from a wide range of disciplines but all want to address the conflict in our culture.
The first part consists of discussions of various fundamental problems in the sciences. There are essays on the inter-relation of physics and psychology, on the possible reduction of biology to physics and chemistry, on new approaches to experimental psychology, against the possibility of giving a purely ‘factual’ account of social and political life, and for a fundamental reform of our concept of responsibility. The second section of the book suggests lines of philosophical inquiry which might help to resolve the epistemological and ethical problems arising at the foundations of physics, biology, psychology and the social sciences.
Foreword. Study Group on Foundations of Cultural Unity. Introduction: Hobbes and the Modern Mind Marjorie Grene Part 1: Foundations Problems in the Sciences 1. Epistemology of Quantum Mechanics: Its Appraisal and Demands E. P. Wigner 2. Goethe and the Phenomenon of Color Torger Holtsmark 3. Is Biology a Molecular Science? Barry Commoner 4. Organism and Environment C. F. A. Pantin 5. Value Properties: Their Significance for Psychology, Axiology, and Science Sigmund Koch 6. The Message of the Hungarian Revolution Michael Polanyi 7. Being and Doing: A Study of Status Responsibility and Voluntary Responsibility John R. Silber Part 2: Philosophical Perspectives 8. Philosophy and Civilization Newton P. Stallknecht 9. On ‘God’ and ‘Good’ Iris Murdoch 10. Three Directions of Phenomenology William H. Bossart 11. Philosophical Knowledge of the Person Edward Pols 12. The Structure of Consciousness Michael Polanyi Epilogue Cosmos and Kingdom Elizabeth Sewell