George A. Blair

Copyright © 1986


George A. Blair


0.1. The subject matter
0.2. The approach
Chapter 1: The Scientist's Starting-Point
1.1. Why not just ask a scientist?
1.1.1. A logical difficulty
1.2. The basic hypothesis about science
1.3. Scientific curiosity
1.3.1. The Scientific assumption
1.4. Effects and affected objects
1.4.1. Other attitudes toward effects
1.5. First step: observation
1.6. Explanations
1.6.1. The logic of explanation
1.6.2. A modern complication
Chapter 2: The Cause and its Properties
2.1. Second step: hypothesis
2.1.1. Occam's Razor: Simplicity
2.2. Cause and causer
2.2.1. Effect and cause as abstract
2.3. Theorems about cause
2.3.1. Analogy
2.3.2. An important point
2.4. The leap into the unobserved
2.4.1. Operational definitions
2.5. Causality
2.5.1. Another important point
2.6. Condition
Chapter 3: The Quest for the Cause
3.1. Third step: Experiment
3.1.1. Speculation
3.1.2. Thought experiments
3.2. Science and mathematics
3.2.1. The logic of mathematics
3.2.2. Probability and statistics Statistics
3.3. Fourth step: theory
3.3.1. Criteria for a good theory Simplicity Comprehensiveness Logic Induction
3.4. Models
3.5. Last step: verification
3.5.1. Prediction
3.6. A prediction from this theory
Chapter 4: Energy
4.1. The basic properties of all forms of energy
4.1.1. Being and activity
4.1.2. Form and limitation
4.1.3. Quantity
4.2. Energy
4.2.1. Energy in physics Work Force
4.3. Qualitative mathematics
4.4. Fields
4.4.1. Potential
4.4.2. Distance Near and far
4.4.3. Position Non-reciprocal positions
4.4.4. Angle
4.4.5. Space
4.5. Action at a distance
Chapter 5: Bodies and their Parts
5.1. Multiple units
5.1.1. Sets A note on why mathematics works
5.1.2. Systems
5.1.3. Bodies
5.2. The body and its parts
5.2.1. The unifying energy
5.2.2. Matter
5.3. The unifying energy and the parts
5.3.1. Newton and Einstein
5.3.2. Some predictions
Chapter 6: Bodies and their Properties
6.1. "Substance and accident"
6.2. Body and property
6.2.1. The property itself
6.2.2. The property's relation to its body
6.2.3. Property and nature
6.2.4. Properties of substance
6.2.5. Intrinsic and reactive properties
6.3. Properties of inanimate bodies
Chapter 7: Change
7.1. Change vs. replacement
7.1.1. Change and bodies
7.2. Kinds of change
7.3. Internal causes of change
7.3.1. Conservation of matter
7.3.2. Entropy
7.4. External causes of change
7.4.1. Purpose
7.4.2. Efficient cause
Chapter 8: Process
8.1. Change as a property
8.1.1. Direction Vectors
8.1.2. The quantities of process
8.2. Time
8.2.1. Complications in physics
8.2.2. Newton's physics and time
8.2.3. The calculus
8.3. The path of the process
8.4. Movement
8.4.1. Reference frames
8.4.2. Movement and Zeno
8.5. Evolution


You will not find references in this book to the modern philosophers of science, such as Kark Popper, Carl Hempel, Arthur Pap, Philipp Frank, Thomas Kuhn, and Stephen Toulmin. This book was not meant to be a critique of contemporary theories of science, but to offer an alternative from a realist point of view. I felt that if I mentioned them by name, I would be doing an injustice unless I made the book much longer than it is, and bristling with footnotes. I am, however, aware of their existence, and have occasionally made oblique references to some of their positions.

The philosophy of nature has suffered a great deal, I think, in modern times, by the fact that scientists and philosophers haven't been able to talk to each other, partly because of personality problems (each side seems to have an inordinate number of people who either despise the other side or look amusedly on it), but because the terms used in each area refer to different things.

I have tried to bridge the gap, and have simply thrown out some traditional philosophical terms which are more of a hindrance than a help in this area today. At the same time, I have tried to show what is behind the scientific terms, many of which have very strong roots in seventeenth century philosophy of nature--sometimes to the detriment of what science is doing, I think.

It would please me greatly if someone who knows more than I could find some of these ideas useful. Whether in themselves they are true, they might stimulate thinking along new lines; and I would gladly be proven false if what I said provoked an insight into what the truth really is.

Fourth of July, 1986