product description page
Oppositions and Paradoxes : Philosophical Perplexities in Science and Mathematics (Paperback) (John L.
About this item
Since antiquity, opposed concepts such as the One and the Many, the Finite and the Infinite, and the Absolute and the Relative, have been a driving force in philosophical, scientific, and mathematical thought. Yet they have also given rise to perplexing problems and conceptual paradoxes which continue to haunt scientists and philosophers. InOppositions and Paradoxes, John L. Bell explains and investigates the paradoxes and puzzles that arise out of conceptual oppositions in physics and mathematics. In the process, Bell not only motivates abstract conceptual thinking about the paradoxes at issue, he also offers a compelling introduction to central ideas in such otherwise-difficult topics as non-Euclidean geometry, relativity, and quantum physics.
These paradoxes are often as fun as they are flabbergasting. Consider, for example, the famous Tristram Shandy paradox: an immortal man composing an autobiography so slowly as to require a year of writing to describe each day of his life&he would, if he had infinite time, presumably never complete the work, although no individual part of it would remain unwritten. Or imagine an English professor who time-travels back to 1599 to offer a printing ofHamlet to Shakespeare, so as to help the Bard overcome writer’s block and author the play which will centuries later inspire an English professor to travel back in time. These and many other paradoxes straddle the boundary between physics and metaphysics, and demonstrate the hidden difficulty in many of our most basic concepts.