In The Logical Leap, I have tried to shed light on the nature of scientific method by examining the discoveries that led to Newtonian mechanics and the atomic theory of matter (Chapters 2-5). In the rest of the book, Chapter 1 deals with the foundation of such advanced knowledge, and Chapters 6 and 7 discuss the various ways that scientists can go off-track, the role of mathematics and philosophy, and the implications of my thesis for evaluating contemporary theories in physics.
Before the 19th century, physical science used to be called “natural philosophy.” Those who investigated nature recognized that philosophy played a crucial role in their work. They engaged in explicit discussions (and often heated debates) about proper method. The greatest of these natural philosophers—men like Galileo, Newton, and Lavoisier—were innovative in epistemology as well as science. And they insisted that their understanding of method was at the root of their success.
Today, however, most scientists dismiss philosophy as irrelevant to their work. This attitude is a disastrous error, and scientists are paying the price for it. But it is the philosophers who are primarily to blame. Scientists look at the hash of avant-garde skepticism and silly word games that pass for philosophy today—and they ask: Of what use could this nonsense be to me (or to anyone)?
But I urge scientists not to equate the field of philosophy with the ramblings of its worst practitioners; in other words, don’t throw out the baby with the dirty bathwater.
The Logical Leap offers a different kind of philosophy.