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This is the same year that the great astronomer and scientist, Galileo, died. Newton's family lived in named Woolsthorpe, outside the town of Lincolnshire, England. His father, who was also called Isaac, was lord of the manor of Woolsthorpe. This title …show more content…. He no longer knew for certain what he believed in regarding religion. He created the "Quaestiones", a set of 45 headings that described Newton's ideas and observations regarding philosophy, religion, and science Westfall, In April of , Newton was the first person to achieve a scholarship in an unconditional course of study, the new analysis of old things and new natural philosophy.

In , Newton formed his ideas and notes on hyperbolic and elliptical lenses and published a paper on them. After leaving Cambridge, Newton was elected to the Convention Parliament assembled in The Parliament was assembled to solve the problems created by the many wars and revolutions that had caused massive chaos and destruction in England. He was the official representative of the University of Cambridge, where he went to college.

The main achievements in Newton's life was pure mathematics- in the form of calculus, the development of optics, and the theory of gravitation, based on the work that Galileo and others had done. Newton created the laws of calculus and his theory of gravitation by the time he was He began this work in the summer of , four years after he had left grammar school. Newton created the theories of optics by time he was Newton got his ideas of optics and graviton from Isaac Barrow.

Barrow was a scientist at Cambridge. Barrow is believed to be the intellectual father of Isaac Newton. Newton's earliest. Show More. Read More. Popular Essays. In the 20th century, there was no lack of philosophers who were favorable to a more realist vision of the laws of nature. Among them were J. Maritain cf. Bhaskar cf. This would correspond to the Platonic conception in which laws that is, their ideas have a certain autonomy and consistency independently from the real cosmos.

This view is close to several contemporary conceptions of cosmology, which mathematically treat an ideal multiplicity of possible universes as something that is conceptually when it is not chronologically prior to the physical universe as such. They are changing islands originating from conventional boundaries inside the universe, which maintains its own identity even without its islands. There are no laws of nature because the universe does not admit either regularity or law.

In the case that laws do exist, they are pure mental constructs without any real foundation. This is a conception that is very much in keeping with the radical philosophy of randomness, in this instance elevated to the status of definitively explaining the real world. It is equivalent to a kind of physical nihilism in which laws can exist without any need of a universe. It is a vision that radicalizes the first case described above, and is not far from those conceptions of contemporary cosmology that describe the origin of the universe as a random fluctuation of a quantum wave function, whose preexistence, with respect to every possible physical reality, is posited.

It also practically represents classical dualism, where the divine primordial principles of Good and Evil are subservient to the cosmic law of conflict, which completely conditions their ability to create. Polytheism also falls into this category because, according to polytheism, everything that belongs to the world of the divine follows the same law fatum of the human and material world. This is what happens in Buddhism and, more recently, in the New Age movement. But the identification between G and L also indicates identity between the attributes of the philosophical image of God and the laws of nature, which are held to be eternal, absolute, rational, and changeless.

For the reasons mentioned above see numbers 1 and 2 concerning determinism, such a conception of the laws does not correspond to the Judeo-Christian God, even though certain thinkers have maintained they do. Finally, the two remaining possibilities, God without Laws and Laws without God, can be associated with two views that are not uncommon today: The view of an unlawful God that is, a God who is not a source of intelligibility and providence , and the atheistic view which holds that the ultimate explanation of natural laws does not refer to any other reality beyond them.

In the past few decades, the debate over the status of natural laws has been sustained mainly by thinkers directly involved in scientific research. Scientists observe, and are surprised by, the stability and mutual connection of laws. They ask why they are intelligible and why the mathematical formalism is so successful in describing them, and they seek a deeper meaning to the fundamental constants of nature.

One of the reasons for this type of inquiry is our contemporary, and rather satisfactory, formulation of a consistent, global, evolutionary picture of the universe, which has the capacity to link the physics of the microcosm with that of the macrocosm. Why do the laws have the form they do? Might they have been otherwise?

Where do these laws come from? Do they exist independently of the physical universe? Hirzel, ]. Lane, ], p. One can understand the action of the laws of nature only by conceiving of them on the cosmic scale, that is, only by assuming that laws are universally valid. But you see, nobody understands that. Nature exhibits continually new and unpredictable behavior, however, this is always in a way that does not lead to chaos or indeterminism, but rather to new and more general levels of understanding and lawfulness.

Sometimes it is argued that laws of nature, which are attempts to capture these regularities systematically, are imposed on the world by our minds in order to make sense of it. It is certainly true that the human mind does have a tendency to spot patterns, and even to imagine them where none exist. Our ancestors saw animals and gods amid the stars, and invented the constellations. And we have all looked for faces in clouds and rocks and flames. Nevertheless, I believe any suggestion that the laws of nature are similar projections of the human mind is absurd.

The existence of regularities in nature is an objective mathematical fact. On the other hand, the statements called laws that are found in textbooks clearly are human inventions, but inventions designed to reflect, albeit imperfectly, actually existing properties of nature. One of the reasons used to support this point of view is the fact that laws can predict and explain new events that go beyond the originally studied phenomenon, often allowing for a successful interpretation of other, new phenomena. Starting from proposed laws, one can deduce verifiable consequences in new contexts, which lead in turn to new and unexpected discoveries, often unrelated to the original subject of study.

As has been noted, the problem of the realist view of the laws of nature that is, other than determinism has been revisited in quantum mechanics. It must, however, be kept in mind that along with what are by nature idealist interpretations e. One also wonders why there is a necessary correspondence between our mind and logic, on the one hand, and the way nature seems to behave, on the other.

From a philosophical perspective, the rules of the debate reproduce those found between a realist and an idealist view of natural laws, as pointed out above. In the religious-theological perspective, the possible Legislator is sometimes dressed in the robes of an Architect.

Nature & Nature's Laws: Documents of the Scientific Revolutions

A certain amount of intelligible information must be coded within the structure of nature, and science deals with its decoding. As a consequence, the old debate about the role of a Legislator, whom the laws of nature seemed implicitly to refer to, has today shifted to debate about the source of information and the diverse answers we could posit.

One such answer is that information that is intelligible to us is nothing but an immanent and self-consistent cosmic code. Another answer is that information comes from a selection effect ruled by the very presence of human beings, so that our universe is intelligible only because it is capable of hosting life, and is one universe among many possible others, none of which are inherently intelligible. Finally, a last possible answer is that the source of information and intelligibility resides in the creative action of a transcendent Logos. The consonance that the intelligibility of the physical world could have with the theology of the Christian Logos is mentioned in other entries of this Encyclopedia such as Mystery and Incarnation and Doctrine of Logos.

Here I will summarize a number of reasons that suggest why the issue of the intelligibility of nature seems to remain significant for contemporary science as well. First of all, the question concerning the meaning of intelligibility cannot be addressed to the laws themselves, because they are precisely what make the behavior of reality understandable and predictable.

It must be directed, instead, both to mathematics and to the human mind. Many mathematical properties observed in nature are less obvious than they seem. Not a few laws could have been other than simple, symmetric, and equipped with convergent integrals. It is for this reason that they can be easily approximated with ideal models. What would happen if these exponents were complicated rational or even irrational numbers?

The Contributions of Isaac Newton Essay

The link between mathematics and nature seems to be pushed much further than what the simple construction of real numbers from natural numbers might suggest. This would be a sort of order like the alphabetical order of words.

One of the ways to drastically reduce the problem is to make the following objection: The laws that govern the cosmos and allow intelligent life to evolve necessarily have to be the same as those that govern the behavior of the human mind. The agreement between the human intellect and natural laws would then depend only on the fact that the brain operates according to physical laws, and that these laws turn out to be completely compatible with the brain.

In reality, such an objection is not very convincing. Finally, the intelligibility of the laws of nature cannot be considered a consequence of natural selection in our biological evolution, because it is difficult to maintain that the ability to solve differential equations has been a historically relevant factor in the survival of the human species.

The biological evolution of humans has virtually stopped when human beings have begun to adapt the outer environment to their own life and survival, fundamentally thanks to the birth of culture. Now, the intelligible representation of the world achieved by mathematics is part of that historical and intellectual path, which started precisely when biological evolution ceased. Without solving the riddle of intelligibility, whose complete explanation does not seem feasible within the scientific method alone, we can conclude nonetheless that both the structure and the intelligibility of the universe are two aspects closely tied to each other.

In principle, it would have been only biologically possible for humans to adapt and organize our place in the world, that is, without any intellectual understanding of it. However, this has not been the case. The most ambitious field in which both the intelligibility of natural laws and the ability to describe them mathematically are evident is without a doubt the project of the unification of the four fundamental forces. However, unifying the fourth remaining force the gravitational force has lead to much greater difficulties.

The mathematical formalism used is not univocal, as evidenced by the fact that the equations involved have many free parameters; however, the physical view of the cosmos that emerges from it is highly suggestive. Another offshoot of the search for a unified theory is the exciting, and in a sense seductive, idea of propounding a Theory of Everything TOE. Although it is not supported by the majority of cosmologists, there have been several animated adherents such as S. Ellis, ; Barrow, and Such new discoveries have been described by some authors in terms of a transition from the ideal, ordered, and changeless cosmos governed by natural laws to a real, disordered universe of evolutionary processes.

Cini, , it would also lose that philosophical vision that has traditionally been built on the notion of law and, consequently, on its Legislator. The Belgian chemist and epistemologist of Russian origin, Ilya Prigogine , has contributed a great deal to the development of the new vision described above. The study of the evolution of thermodynamic systems far from equilibrium solutions allows one to describe the emergence of organized structures that are morphologically more interesting and complex than the initial system mainly Prigogine and Stengers, La Nouvelle Alliance , ; see Prigogine, and Prigogine and Stengers, The equilibrium solutions, instead, located far away from the bifurcations represented by the behavior of balls in the valleys , reduce the system to a predictable and deterministic phenomenon with well-known laws.

Such behavior exists in nature where one observes a progressive diversification of chemical, biochemical, and biological laws. And it also holds when we consider the formation of rather structured physical systems for example, the thermodynamics of a star out of chaotic systems the cloud of hydrogen gas from which it is formed.

Since natural laws are more easily associated with the description of systems in equilibrium, having stable solutions, and with predictable evolution, they lead to the notions of bond and eternal recurrence; the idea of emergence and complexity, on the contrary, would lead to the notion of creativity and even to that of liberty.

In keeping with this change of perspective—and using the terms of what has by now become a classical antithesis—Prigogine holds the primacy of becoming over being, of process over substance, bringing into such an antithesis the great ideas and heritages of philosophy and religion cf. Prigogine, He cites the work of M. Heidegger, Being and Time , and the philosophy of the process developed by Whitehead, as a more fitting philosophical framework. But there is more.

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A science whose importance and interpretative power are shifted from time-reversible equations typical of the natural laws traditionally—and reductively! A less deterministic science, freed from any physicalistic legalism, could dialogue more easily with the humanities, disciplines that are open to liberty and to creativity. The scientific merit and the epistemological novelty of non-equilibrium thermodynamics are incontestable.

As alluded to above, these consequences stem from an unconsciously reductive view, not only of natural laws which he identifies with determinism and of the principle of lawfulness identified with the notion of a static order that precludes any novelty , but also of science itself as a whole. The possibility of dialogue among the natural sciences, the humanities, and philosophy has certainly increased due to the abandonment of mechanism, though to overcome mechanism we do not need to reject the notion of laws.

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Non-equilibrium thermodynamics does not constitute a negation of the value of the laws of nature for at least two reasons. In the second place, the behavior of fluctuations and instabilities from which the system will later evolve in an unpredictable way can be described by mathematical-physical laws, as happens, for example, in the instabilities that occur in fluid dynamics.

As a proof of this, Prigogine would inevitably continue to use the notion of law, describing the behavior of nature as a delicate balance between fortune and necessity, between fluctuations and deterministic laws, between symmetry breaking and the laws that cause such breaking.


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Special Aspects in the Field of Biology. The genetic code contained in the DNA of cellular nuclei gives rise to particular developments in a certain individual and not to others. Hereditary traits are transmitted following certain rules of combinatorics. They are, on the one hand, the use of the marked organization, complexity, and finalism evidenced by living beings for apologetic ends, and on the other hand, the attempt to explain all these features as chance outcomes, by simply appealing to the ideas of accidental genetic variations, natural selection, adaptation to the environment, or other factors.

Russell, Stoeger, and Ayala, Jablonka and Lamb, Webster and Goodwin, One author, Stuart Kauffmann , has underlined the existence of a natural tendency living beings have to develop specific complex structures, following paths that are determined by inner processes and outer environmental conditions. Other authors, such as St. Conway Morris, Such behavior indicates, in essence, the ability of the organism to maintain and develop, in a consistent way, invariant characteristics such as, for example, homeostasis, functional symmetries, immunity to external agents, etc.

It is interesting to note that in the middle of the 20th century, Teilhard de Chardin had already theorized about both areas of inquiry cf. From a more traditional point of view, recourse to the idea of law and regularity has always accompanied the description of the phenomenon of life. But the more it is perfected, the more we sense that the logical order in which it places the experimental laws is a reflection of an ontological order; the more we doubt that the relations it establishes between observational data correspond to relationships between things, the more we discover that it tends to be a natural classification [ Publisher: London: Macmillan Documentary History of Western Civilization.

Description: xii p hardback, white jacket, index, glossary, fresh and clean copy. This book has been catalogued with the following subject terms: 18th Century , Historiography , History of Science , Legal Studies. Click here to see a list of titles which share these subjects Click here to see a list of titles which come from the same acquisition. Human Remains. Dissection and its Histories.

Chapter 2.2: Thomas Kuhn, scientific revolutions

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