Letters to Editor | Published:

Philosophy and Modern Science

Naturevolume 135page911 (1935) | Download Citation



WHEN I read Dr. H. Dingle's book “Science and Human Experience” I found that I agreed with nearly all of it; now I find myself in disagreement with most of his article in the Jubilee issue of NATURE. I realise that he may not be expressing his own views, but be trying to summarise those of others, and that most of those he expresses are prevalent; but I cannot convince myself that they are right. The differences begin with what he calls the fundamental principle of the rejection of unobservables. No distinction is made between sensations and concepts. Dr. Dingle makes general observability part of his criterion; since each sensation is private to one individual, he thereby leaves the whole basis of our experience out of science. The principle cannot be applied to concepts, because in fact they are not observed by anybody. If we are realists we may say that they are inferred; if we are phenomenalists we may say that they are constructed. If there is any change in scientific thought in this respect, it is that our realists have now a greater disposition to modify their ideas of what is real when new data derived from sensation become available.

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  1. St. John's College, Cambridge



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