This essay discusses the views of historian Gertrude Himmelfarb, who sets forth that democratic societies tend toward a determinist outlook; she fears that the weakened belief in free will and its heroes endangers a democratic society. She regards H. G. Wells as the founder in 1920 of the "new history," with its antiheroic bias. She welcomes therefore the television series The Civil War for having achieved "a history from above and history from below," with its heroes among common soldiers as (...) well as the generals and statesmen. Himmelfarb criticizes the "debunking" historians who not only belittle the significance of heroes but find in "small causes" (e.g., the origins of Hitler's obsessive anti-Semitism) a basis for large-scale events (e.g., the Holocaust). Himmelfarb finds that H. G. Wells's Outline of History was intended not only to displace military conquerors as the heroes of history but to elevate the scientific elite in their place as history's truly constructive people. Americans, however, were, earlier, first introduced to another variety of "new history" by two Columbia University professors, Charles A. Beard and James Harvey Robinson, who wrote textbooks used by perhaps millions of high school students; Beard had derived the concept in 1906 when he read the Socialist History of France , much of it written by the French socialist, Jean Jaurès. The philosophy of history still remains in a position similar to that which has long prevailed in the philosophy of physics, where determinism and indeterminism have persisted irreconcilably. (shrink)
Einstein argued in his latter years that the intelligibility of the world was in the nature of a miracle, and that in no way could one have expected a priori such a high degree of order; this is why he rejected the atheist, positivist standpoint, and believed in a Spinozist God. Einstein's argument, however, is essentially a form of the ?argument from design? for a personal God based on the existence of beautiful, mathematically simple laws of nature; that physical order (...) is a unique, improbable alternative compared to the infinite number of chaotic universes that might have existed. Einstein, in his early manhood, was a Humean, but in later years, as he moved toward Spinoza, from phenomenalism to noumenalism, he clearly rejected Hume's restriction of probable inferences to observed sequences. Darwin's arguments against biological design did not apply to Einstein's argument, because the laws of physics are not the outcome of any cumulative struggle for existence and natural selection. Perhaps the beautiful simplicity of basic physical laws helps account for the fact that relatively more physicists than biologists or psychologists hold to a theistic standpoint. Einstein's finite universe would have seriously weakened the argument that life, though infinitely improbable, would have been realized in an infinite world. But in any case, Einstein would have regarded ?emergence? theories of life as irrational. In accordance with the principle of identity of Emile Meyerson, the epistemologist whom he most respected, it would have followed that the occurrence of consciousness and intelligence was grounded in a God with those attributes, and that theism was consequently the basis for scientific knowledge. (shrink)
In the search for elementary particles, such principles are used as Gell?mann's that ?anything which is possible is compulsory?. This is an example of a teleological principle according to which the scientist tries to realize in science the kind of world that he desires on prior emotional grounds. Mendeleev's classical discovery of the Periodic Law and Table of Elements was thus guided by his mystical values. A mechanistic anti?teleologist such as Jacques Loeb was indeed a crypto?teleologist who wished science to (...) fulfil his radical, socialistic aims. Hoyle's ?perfect cosmological principle? projected conservative values, while such conceptions as Oppenheimer's ?catastrophic collapse?, and Mach's Principle likewise had their teleological bases. Anti?mystical and individualistic values inspired Bridgman's operationism. A ?perfect operational principle? would stipulate that every imaginable state of affairs would be operationally differentiable from others. Teleological principles are essential to the functioning of sciences; in the Theory of Theories, the principle of plenitude may hold: that for every mode of theory, there is some segment of reality for which it provides the best explanation. Naturalistic accounts of basic teleological principles seem inadequate. (shrink)
The most eminent exponents of the ontological argument for the existence of God have been characterized as well by a common emotional ingredient — a concern with individual guilt. Anselm, Josiah Royce, Karl Barth, and Norman Malcolm in their respective ways have made the experience of guilt a central one in their metaphysical standpoints. The hypothesis is therefore advanced that the validity which such thinkers have found in the ontological argument is the expression of a frame of mind which we (...) can call 'logical masochism'; under the influence of such emotions, the ontologian bows his logical powers submissively before an entity the existence of which he cannot question because of the guilt that such questioning would arouse. Under such social circumstances, on the other hand, as during the eighteenth century, when the psychology of individual guilt subsided, the appeal of the ontological argument likewise declines. (shrink)
The author contends that analysis is dependent on the criteria of "the scientific world-View." otherwise, There would be "no basis for excluding analyses which were simply precise formulations of unverifiable realms of being." (staff).