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Philosophy in the Philosophical Magazine

Nature volume 150, page 89 (18 July 1942) | Download Citation



ALTHOUGH physics is regarded as one of the exact sciences, exactitude was not always found in the titles of its journals. For many years Science Abstracts was regarded as an adequate title for the journal now known as Physics Abstracts, and the London, Edinburgh and Dublin Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science has published many more papers in physics than in philosophy. In the May number of the latter, however, four of the seven papers are mainly philosophical. Prof. E. T. Whit-taker gives a stimulating discussion of “Some Disputed Questions in the Philosophy of the Physical Sciences”, using well-chosen analogies. Attention is naturally given to the attempts of mathematicians to discover Tacts' without the use of experiment or observation. As mathematical symbols are not used, the paper is suitable also for the general reader. The other three papers deal with the thorny subject of dimensions. In a brief note, Dr. Norman Campbell points out that writers on the subject are apt to ignore much of the vast literature because “anyone who attempted to summarize the literature would become involved in so many controversies that he could get no further”. Since assignment of dimensions is a means to an end, and not an end in itself, writers are urged to state explicitly what end they have in itiew and how that end is served by the considerations presented in their writings. In a paper of twenty-four pages, Prof. H. Dingle attempts to relate the subject to more fundamental and universally acceptable ideas. Twelve definitions and postulates are given as a set of principles upon which discussion of dimensions may be based. The third paper, by Dr. G. B. Brown, is a reply to some criticisms of Prof. Wilson upon a recent paper on dimensions published originally in the Proceedings of the Physical Society, 53, 418 (1941).

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