Friday, July 29, 2011

Introducing history into physics

It is not often that books outside literature and the study of it concern quite directly with my major preoccupations - but Philip Ball's Critical Mass does exactly that. Of course, it does not really offer even rudimentary approaches for the actual study of history, but surely natural science is the direction where the much needed paradigm change will eventually come. Actually, Ball's approach probably corresponds quite exactly to sociology, but I suspect that the kind of statistical understanding that goes for gaseous molecules will not do for humans - the particulars are too important for the overall state of affairs. But surely we will once be able to posit a functioning physical model of historical change and be rid of the current tools far too crude to capture any certain connections between historical occurences.

Maybe this sounds, even now, over-ambitious and mechanistic, nevertheless I have never been able to fathom the distinction between physical and human sciences. It is just that human affairs have been much too complex for the natural sciences that have been more gainfully employed with simpler matters, such as the origins and structures of the universe etc. Perhaps we are now, at long last, developing sophisticated enough tools for the natural sciences to engage with our own experience...

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