Wittgenstein's Beetle and Other Classic Thought Experiments

Wittgenstein's Beetle and Other Classic Thought Experiments

by Martin Cohen
     
 

Thought experiments have played a central and significant role across a broad spectrum of philosophy and science, clarifying and solving complicated puzzles, problems and ideas in the ‘laboratory of the mind’. This book offers a unique capsule history, inviting readers to participate actively in a surprisingly powerful and fruitful tradition.

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Overview

Thought experiments have played a central and significant role across a broad spectrum of philosophy and science, clarifying and solving complicated puzzles, problems and ideas in the ‘laboratory of the mind’. This book offers a unique capsule history, inviting readers to participate actively in a surprisingly powerful and fruitful tradition.

Vivid examples from this fascinating history make up the heart of the book, including Newton’s Bucket, Lucretius’ Spear, Salvatius’ Ship, Plato’s Cave, and of course Wittgenstein’s Beetle. Each experiment is followed by a discussion offering possible inferences and consequences.

In the final section, Cohen examines the method of thought experimentation suggesting key points for those wishing to harness its power for new explorations.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Martin Cohen's book is a delight to the intellect. His discussion of historically important thought experiments displays considerable erudition, permeated by wit and occasionally farcical invention which embellish the philosophical value of his treatment."
Zenon Stavrinides, University of Bradford

"Cohen's book is packed with wit and scurrilous remarks about mainstream philosophers. His inimitable writing style, which entertains as it instructs, is directed towards making philosophical ideas immediately accessible to the general reader."
George MacDonald Ross, University of Leeds

"One of the fun things about philosophy is that you can sit back in your armchair, set up a laboratory in your own head and calmly observe the results of mixing x with y. This is the grand tradition of the "thought experiment", to which Cohen provides a zippy alphabetical guide. Cohen's explanations of the problems are lucid, and he defends the tradition against killjoys who argue that thought experiments cannot ever give reliable conclusions. At its best the thought experiment can be a highly compressed, conceptually fruitful marriage of science and literature."
Steven Poole on Wittgenstein's Beetle
Saturday November 20, 2004
The Guardian

"The value of this little book is that it collects a wide range of thought experiments and presents them in an accessible way. It is a good place to start, and it will be especially useful for those who teach courses on the topic and want to introduce it to a new generation of students."
James Robert Brown, University of Toronto

"There are several books of philosophical thought experiments currently in print... Cohen's A-Z are mostly of historic significance to science. They are wittily presented..."
Times Literary Supplement

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781405121927
Publisher:
Wiley
Publication date:
10/15/2004
Pages:
152
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.45(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"Martin Cohen's book is a delight to the intellect. His discussion of historically important thought experiments displays considerable erudition, permeated by wit and occasionally farcical invention which embellish the philosophical value of his treatment."
Zenon Stavrinides, University of Bradford

"Cohen's book is packed with wit and scurrilous remarks about mainstream philosophers. His inimitable writing style, which entertains as it instructs, is directed towards making philosophical ideas immediately accessible to the general reader."
George MacDonald Ross, University of Leeds

"One of the fun things about philosophy is that you can sit back in your armchair, set up a laboratory in your own head and calmly observe the results of mixing x with y. This is the grand tradition of the "thought experiment", to which Cohen provides a zippy alphabetical guide. Cohen's explanations of the problems are lucid, and he defends the tradition against killjoys who argue that thought experiments cannot ever give reliable conclusions. At its best the thought experiment can be a highly compressed, conceptually fruitful marriage of science and literature."
Steven Poole on Wittgenstein's Beetle
Saturday November 20, 2004
The Guardian

"The value of this little book is that it collects a wide range of thought experiments and presents them in an accessible way. It is a good place to start, and it will be especially useful for those who teach courses on the topic and want to introduce it to a new generation of students."
James Robert Brown, University of Toronto

"Wittily presented."
Times Literary Supplement

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