Book Reviews by Stephen P. Smith, Ph.D. (Part VIII)

Review of Huw Price's Book by Stephen P. Smith: Time's Arrow and Archimedes' Point: New Directions for the Physics of Time

Abstract: Price writes much on Gold's big bang and big crunch model of the universe, and he writes on alternative views too. Having navigated safely from the time-flow anthropocentrism, Price seems to have gotten himself snagged on a second anthropocentrism that we are isolated from everything else. It is true we may see ourselves as all knowing creatures that are competing for our survival in a lifeless pool of chaos we call our universe. But there is no objective basis for this belief. It is just a possible that we are the forgetful universe reflecting hopelessly into the many egocentric bodies that are said to be all knowing. Are we the inside system or the outside system? The question is symmetrical, and cannot be answered. Then why do we answer it by projecting a Gold's universe onto reality by demanding a separate big crunch future that is just as likely as our big bang past? See:

Review of David C. Stove’s Book by Stephen P. Smith: Anything Goes: Origins of the Cult of Scientific Irrationalism

Abstract: What are the implications of Stove's remarkable book? I will summarize my observations. Induction is not the poison that Popper made it out to be. Moreover, science need not be restricted to negative declarations as Popper demanded, but may also seek evidence that affirms. Popper's falsification principle continues to be important to promote error recognition, but it is very partial. Popper's own failure in deductive reasoning shows his limitation. Induction and deduction as a two-piece logic system is still too restrictive for proper error recognition, in my view. See

Review of Steve Fuller's Book: Kuhn vs. Popper by Stephen P. Smith: The Struggle for the Soul of Science (Revolutions in Science)

Abstract: Fuller's book in interesting (worth four stars) because of the contrast made between Kuhn and Popper found in the first half of the book. The confusion comes later, but Fuller (page viii) shows little affection for Kuhn from the get-go, and writes: "The more I have tired to make sense of Kuhn's words and deeds, the more I have come to regard him as an intellectual coward who benefitted from his elite institutional status in what remains the world's dominant society." Fuller tells us that Kuhn won the class struggle, and Fuller's own emotionality betrays his affection for Popper's libertarianism.

Review of Palle Yourgrau's Book by Stephen P. Smith: A World without Time: The Forgotten Legacy of Godel and Einstein

Abstract: Yourgrau tells us that Godel was a philosophy-loving Platonist, and writes (page 23) on Platonists: "who like Plato believed in the objective, independent existence of ideal, disembodied forms, of which the natural numbers are a paradigm." Here truth discovered objectively becomes conflated with existence, while the person that discovers truth fades in importance. Godel would have been better served by resolving his issues with the "Dutch anti-Platonist, intuitionist mathematician L.E.J. Brouwer," who also visited Vienna as Yourgrau (page 29) indicates. Yourgrau (page 40) tells us that Einstein`s thinking impacted the Vienna Circle, as well as Godel: "It was precisely the hegemony of positivism, Godel wrote later, that allowed the members of the circle to mistake Einstein for an ally and to underestimate the difficulty of rendering mathematics empirically acceptable by reconstructing it as a system for formal manipulation of signs. Einstein himself would awaken the positivists from their misconceptions about the ultimate relationship between his thoughts and theirs.

Review of Ayn Rand's Book by Stephen P. Smith: Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology: Expanded Second Edition

Abstract: According to Rand`s objectivism, deduction, induction, and concept-formation are all that is needed to acquire objective knowledge. Rand`s "concept-formation" is to first differentiate (or particularize) a set into units and then to integrate (or generalize) over the set. Rand (1990, page 28) limits concepts to a bi-polarity and writes: "The process of observing the facts of reality and of integrating them into concepts is, in essence, a process of induction. The process of subsuming new instances under a known concept is, in essence, a process of deduction." Rand correctly connects induction and deduction with the proclivities of generality and particularity, respectively, but in doing this she turns concept-formation into an empty bi-polarity that holds nothing else but induction and deduction.