Paradox Lost pp 156-157 | Cite as

Reality and Other Sciences

  • Philip R. Wallace


Physicists have a tendency to take a reductionist view of the world, in which physics is the base on which all other sciences are founded. While it is a view that may legitimately be questioned, it is interesting to note that its acceptance leads to a curious quandary. Physics has attained a level of theoretical abstraction inconceivable in the other sciences, and this has made possible the philosophical debates that it has engendered. Our probing into the unseen depths of the atomic and subatomic world has removed science further and further from the world of our direct experience and permitted it to rest on layers of inference and extrapolation. Presumably, this has left us with doubts about the meaning of reality. At the level of the more empirical sciences, reality is assumed to be based on our direct experience. That is to say, we define reality in terms of our interactions with the material environment in which we live. We do not question the reality of this immediate world, though it is considered to be in principles dependent on the laws of physics. But if, at its most basic level, we question the reality of the quantum laws on the basis of which we understand the physical world, how can we attribute more certainty to the reality of our direct experience?


Physical World Direct Experience Philosophical Debate Empirical Science Material Environment 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philip R. Wallace
    • 1
  1. 1.McGill UniversityVictoriaCanada

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