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The Laboratory of the Mind: Thought Experiments in the Natural Sciences [Paperback]

James Robert Brown
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

July 29, 2010 0415996538 978-0415996532 2

Newton's bucket, Einstein's elevator, Schrödinger's cat – these are some of the best-known examples of thought experiments in the natural sciences. But what function do these experiments perform? Are they really experiments at all? Can they help us gain a greater understanding of the natural world?  How is it possible that we can learn new things just by thinking?  

In this revised and updated new edition of his classic text The Laboratory of the Mind, James Robert Brown continues to defend apriorism in the physical world. This edition features two new chapters, one on “counter thought experiments” and another on the development of inertial motion.  With plenty of illustrations and updated coverage of the debate between Platonic rationalism and classic empiricism, this is a lively and engaging contribution to the field of philosophy of science.

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Editorial Reviews


"If thought experiments have extraordinary powers, then they need an extraordinary epistemology. This book is the only serious attempt to provide it."John Norton, University of Pittsburgh

Praise for the first edition:

"Cogent, lively, enthusiastic ... A wonderfully stimultating book, highly rcommended"

"I recommend this book to anybody interested in the philosophy of science...a fascinating compendium of these testaments to scientific genius."David Papineau, Times Higher Education Supplement

About the Author

James Robert Brown is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 2 edition (July 29, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415996538
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415996532
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,596,782 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
FUN: The author simply has a great voice. Even while arguing with anti-realists, he is humble about his claims which makes it a pleasure to read.

RESPECTFUL: Brown considers himself a Mathematical Platonist (proofs exist, they are things that can be grasped) and yet he is very respectful toward his nemesis, John Norton. Because of this mutual respect of rivals, Norton wrote the top blurb on the back of the second edition. This is a fine example of respectful scientific debate.

FUN: Here you'll find interesting discussion of Einstein's Elevator, Thompson's Gestating Violinist, Newton's Bucket, Galileo's Balls, Searle's Chinese Room, Locke's Cobbler Swap, Maxwell's Demon, Howard's Inseperability...

PLATONIC: Throughout the book Brown makes the claim that ordinary people, through thought experiments, may KNOW truths that were not supplied them by information. This is exactly Plato's claim about RECALL. Plato said that in the time before you were incarnated in this body, you were in contact with all the essences and forms of things. All you have to do if you want to know anything, is recall that time. Brown does not say Plato is right about the incarnation part, but says that thought experiments do activate that way of knowing, so that by the thought experiment you may know something you were never given the information to know.

IMPORTANT: A refutation of Cantor's Diagonal! Cantor's proof basically says that the Real numbers can't make a 1-1 function with the integers. It turn's out the Real numbers can't make a 1-1 function with any set, so the proof is meaningless. Since the Real numbers can't be ordered, the setup for Cantor's Diagonal is wrong. This is huge! Is there a Nobel prize for Math?

IMPORTANT: A new interpretation of EPR.
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