We have here an example of the enormous change in outlook in Europe that had begun more than two centuries before. More and more, observed events ceased to be regarded as symbols and were allowed to stand for themselves. People ceased to be preoccupied with anthropomorphic riddles in an organismic world, and slowly became factual observers and theorizers in a mechanistic world.
Without this new attitude, there could have been no modern science, for if we are to start our science from experimental observables, we must have faith that we are dealing with the raw material of experience, not with symbols of complex mysteries. We had to become enthusiastic about the observable world for its own sake, we had to attain a tacit faith in the meaningfulness of nature and its direct accessibility to our understanding, before generations of scientists would arise to devote themselves to the minute and often most tedious quantitative investigations of nature. In this sense Kepler=s work heralds the change toward the modern scientific attitude - to regard a wide variety of phenomena as explained when they can all be described by one simple, preferable mathematical, pattern of behavior.
- Gerald Holton and Stephen G. Brush,
in Physics, the Human Adventure
Return to Honors PS1500 home page
Last modified: Thursday, February 05, 2009 09:10 PM