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The Theory of Knowledge and Existence

Nature volume 131, page 455 (01 April 1933) | Download Citation



THIS comprehensive attempt to determine the characteristics and purpose of knowledge deserves careful reading. We believe that the author is right in stressing the empirical value of epistemo-logy, though we fail to see why transcendental issues are altogether outside the horizon of the theory of knowledge proper. Adopting the well-known method of building up the world with some primitive elements, Dr. Stace characterises first the universe of the solitary mind, then gives shape to the external world, and finally describes what happens when the solitary mind discovers other minds. After concluding this part of his inquiry, he discusses space-time, mathematics, logic, the categories, and scientific knowledge. Though he purposely avoids the technicalities of these subjects, the author has many pertinent reflections about the issues they imply. To give but one example, in discussing the epistemological aspect of the new theories of matter, he points out that the earlier concept of the nuclear atom, though beyond any possible perception, is not itself unreal, as we can make a logical model of it by means of data supplied from other sources of perceptual knowledge. But the new concept of the ‘wavicle’ which purports to combine the characteristics of a particle with those of a wave, cannot possibly have any sort of existence, as it possesses contradictory properties. Also, he rightly assumes that when any type of knowledge clashes with logic, it is not logic but our scientific assumptions which must be changed somehow.

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