Notes on the Methodology and Evolution of Physics and Astrophysics

Russian Studies in Philosophy 20 (1):40-82 (1981)
Work on the methodology of natural science involves serious difficulties over and above those encountered in any other aspect of natural science or of philosophy. Reference is to the obvious fact that in discussing methodological questions of, for example, physics, so as to be precise, it is not enough to know physics: it is also necessary to familiarize oneself with certain branches of philosophy, the history of science, and so forth. Furthermore, a professional cannot limit himself to "general familiarity" with the material. He has to know the details and, if possible, the entire literature on the question under discussion. However, the volume of literature on physics has, within the memory of the author alone — that is, over approximately forty years — multiplied dozens of times. I cannot say how great has been the increase in the quantity of information on the methodology of natural science and related disciplines. But what is important is that the amount of material that has accumulated to date is enormous. Some notion of the scale of the work may be gained from the abstract journal Obshchestvennye nauki za rubezhom. Seriia 8. Naukovedenie. For example, no. 1 for 1980 contained abstracts of 72 articles and books; this amounts to over 400 titles a year . When we add to this the Soviet literature and the need to include material from many years, we arrive at a figure of four digits. Naturally, only a very small portion of the literature is made use of in any particular piece of work, but it is impossible to know beforehand which items will be specifically needed.
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DOI 10.2753/RSP1061-1967200140
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