CCL: Who is the best philosopher(s) of science now?
- From: Vincent Leroux <vincent.leroux . loria.fr>
- Subject: CCL: Who is the best philosopher(s) of science now?
- Date: Mon, 28 Sep 2009 09:01:57 +0200
Sent to CCL by: Vincent Leroux [vincent.leroux+*+loria.fr]
If bias is tolerated, as I am French and you are Canadian I will
Sengen Sun sengensun : yahoo.com a écrit :
Sent to CCL by: Sengen Sun [sengensun###yahoo.com]
I'd like to read more things from the best philosopher(s) of science (chemistry)
who are still alive and also universally recognized without significant
controversy. I'd like a few recommendations from the CClist members. Any one's
help would be appreciated. In exchange, I'd like to share my favorite:
So far, the best one I like is Professor John Polanyi. I may be a little biased
as I am also a Canadian citizen. At least, his remarks fit to my taste. For
Some quotes from above links:
"It's like asking, 'Why do you want to stay alive?' The reason is that you
want to achieve something. It’s an outgrowth of being alive that you are
challenged to try to discover something."
Q: What are the major barriers to scientific discovery and success
A: "It is an interesting question – whether anything has changed in
that regard. I can't see any change. Everybody is reliant on their scientific
judgement. You can't be too timid. You've got to ask questions that are worth
asking, and stretch yourself to the limit, but not beyond. There are no explicit
rules guiding scientific judgment – you have to learn it from someone who
has the quality. That's how we all learned it in the past, and that's how we all
learn it today – we fight to get into the best laboratories. "
Q: What about the role of personal determination to supplement this
judgement? How did you respond when in 1959 your seminal paper providing the
first theoretical description of chemical lasers was rejected by the prestigious
journal Physical Review Letters?
A: "That experience is one that all ambitious scientists have. There are
two reasons for having a paper rejected – either it's no good or it's too
new. One has to teach one's students that if you have a new idea, don't expect
the world of science to embrace it right away. It's as if science has an immune
system and rejects new tissue. And it has to, otherwise it would have a leg
sticking out of its head. You're going to be tested when you suggest anything
I think these are tremendous remarks since Thomas Kuhn, encouraging
young people who have determination in scientific discovery. He also gives
realistic accounts of the reasons for the main stream community to resist new
scientific discoveries in the modern era of human civilization. From the
positive side, he provides a solution for the resistance to be managed -
determination/ persistence/ patience - (a long-term struggle and confrontation
as said by Kuhn). A scientific truth won't die.