Lecture Two: Induction and Inductivism
The historical development of the Scientific Method
In the late 16
centuries, there were revolutionary changes in our world view.
There were many theoretical developments in the sciences such as astronomy, physics,
For example, beginning with Galileo (1564-1642) and culminating with Isaac Newton
(1642-1727) the study of mechanics was completely overhauled (mechanics is a branch
of physics that deals with energy and forces such as gravity and their effect on bodies in
There were spectacular achievements in science.
Even today, NASA uses
Newton’s own formulations to calculate the orbit of spacecrafts.
These theoretical developments in science were accompanied and driven by new
technologies—such as the telescope and the microscope.
Thus, in an extraordinary way,
what scientists could observe was greatly extended.
To get a sense of just how the
invention of the telescope helped to drive the revolutionary views in science, the
following is a short article by Michio Kaku, a co-founder of String Field Theory and
professor of theoretical physics at City University of New York:
The Telescope: 400 Years and Counting (
Quick -- name the invention that has done most to redefine our place in the
Hint: This invention was also the most seditious, blasphemous instrument of all
time, shaking the very foundations of society.
The answer, if you haven't already guessed it, is the telescope. It's hard to believe
that this instrument, often sold as a cheesy toy in gift shops, is perhaps the single
most important scientific instrument of all time. Now that the telescope is
celebrating its 400th anniversary, it's a good time to take stock of this marvelous
For 99.9 percent of human history, most people held a Neolithic viewpoint of our
world. It was a natural viewpoint: All our senses scream out to us that Earth is the
center of the universe, and everything revolves around us. It's also a comforting
point of view, since it means that we stand at the very center of God's creation.
Once in a while, scientists challenged this viewpoint -- the Greeks even calculated
the size of the Earth around 200 B.C. -- but for the most part, it stuck around,
largely because it dovetailed with powerful religious interests.
The invention of
the telescope dealt a deathblow to that Earth-centric cosmology. In antiquity, it
was known to glassblowers that, while making stained glass, spherical blobs of