Fall-Winter 2019

Physics without Physis: On Form and Teleology in Modern Science

Simon Oliver

Physics is often regarded as the most fundamental natural science. In its modern guise, it is concerned with matter, energy, and their interrelation over time and through space. Experimental physics deals with observations and measurements of the smallest and greatest dimensions of the universe. This blends with theoretical physics, which develops abstract mathematical models to explain experimental findings, proffering speculative possibilities concerning the workings of physical systems. As experimental technologies develop, so the overlap between experimental and theoretical physics increases; previously abstract and speculative models become empirically testable. While the possibility of reducing the other natural sciences to physics without remainder is now credible only among the most hardened of materialists, modern physics remains the quintessential science of nature (physis). It apparently delivers fundamental and comprehensive knowledge of the cosmos, from the subatomic quantum realm to the furthest reaches of space and time.


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