Why Beliefs Matter: Reflections on the Nature of Science

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This book discusses deep problems about our place in the world with a minimum of technical jargon. It argues that 'absolutist' ideas dating back to Plato continue to mislead generations of theoretical physicists and theologians. It explains that the multi-layered nature of our present descriptions of the world is unavoidable, not because of anything about the world but because of our own human natures. It tries to rescue mathematics from the singular and exceptional status that it has been assigned, as much by those who understand it as by those who do not. It provides direct quotations from many of the important contributors to its subject, and concludes with a penetrating criticism of many of the recent contributions to the often acrimonious debates about science and religions.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Davies has thought long and hard about the relationship of mathematics to the physical world, which gives him an interesting and even helpful perspective." —Josh Reeves, ESSSAT News 21.3

"Although some of the ideas in the book are complex, the presentation is both lucid and entertaining. It has made me re-evaluate my own beliefs about the nature of mathematics. Davies raises more questions than answers, and I strongly recommend to you this thought-provoking book." —Colva Roney-Dougal, The London Mathematical Society Newsletter

"... a wide-ranging, thought-provoking meditation." —Manjit Kumar, New Scientist

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199586202
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 7/22/2010
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 1,536,814
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Educated at the University of Oxford, E. Brian Davies is Professor of Mathematics at King's College, London and a Fellow of the Royal Society. He developed the theory of open quantum systems, writing a monograph on the subject which became the standard text. He has published almost 300 articles and four books on subjects ranging from quantum theory to pure mathematics, and is currently working in both computational analysis and the philosophy of science. He has held visiting positions at a number of leading universities in Europe and the USA. He was awarded the Senior Berwick Prize by the London Mathematical Society in 1998, and was President of London Mathematical Society 2008-2009.

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Table of Contents

1. The Scientific Revolution
2. The Human Condition
3. The Nature of Mathematics
4. Sense and Nonsense
5. Science and Religion Preface
1. The Scientific Revolution
2. The Human Condition
3. The Nature of Mathematics
4. Sense and Nonsense
5. Science and Religion

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