Galileo And Scientific Method by Bertrand Russell

Galileo And Scientific Method by Bertrand Russell




Bertrand Arthur William Russell, Third Earl Russell (1872-1970) was a British philosopher and mathematician. In 1950, he won the Nobel Prize for Literature and was declared as "the, champion of humanity and freedom of thought". He was one of the most influential figures of the twentieth century. His other areas of interest were national and international politics, education and econ.omics His famous work "Principia Mathematica‘ is regarded as a masterpiece. He was sent to jail for condemning the warring nations from both sides during the World War l (19141918). During the World War ll, he supported the Allied cause but condemned the use of nuclear weapons.
The history of human development, culture and learning is usually divided into three penods the Classical Period or the Greco-Roman Period (roughly from the 6th cam B C. m the 4th century A.D.); the Middle Ages (from the 5th century AD. to me 156: berm All); and the Modern Age (from the 16th century AD. to the present age).
In this article Russell presents before us a brief surveyof the contribution made by different nations to the development of human civilization in the world. The Greeks were the pioneers. They laid the foundation of true learning. They kept on devising new techniques and in this way made a lot of research in all the fields of learning. But they had one flaw that their method was mainly based on deduction. They normally followed the authorities and did not conduct as many new experiments as they could. This is. why the inductive method could not nourish much during their period. ‘
The Greeks were followed by the Arabs who used the inductive method in their research. It was the period when their was no remarkable development made by the Europeans. The Arabs discovered new methods and invented many new things. They kept the process of learning alive which had long been dead in Europe. They had also one major drawback that they mainly focussed on alchemy, i.e. turning the base metal into gold. '
The main figure in the realm of learning who provided new light to the world was Galileo Galilei. He was born near Pisa in Italy in 1564. (Shakespeare was also born in the same year. It is Michelangelo‘s year of death as well.) This great physicist and astronomer is regarded as the real beginner of modern sciencesfln the field of physics, he established ‘ the law of falling bodies. He made the mst thermometer. His understanding of the motion of projectiles and studies of pendulum are the pillars on which Newton based modern physics.
ln the fieldof astronomy. Galileo brought a revolution. in 1608 a Dutch spectacle-maker Hans Lippershey invented telescope. Galileo came to know ab0ut it and made his own telescope in 1609 which was far more powerful. with its help he made a number of important astronomical discoveries. He found mountainif and valleys on the moon. He noticed the phases of Venus. Through this telescope he saw that the Milky Way
was composed of stars. He also discovered four satellites circling Jupiter. as well as the rings of Saturn.
Galileo's work undoubtedly marks the real beginning of the Modern Age. but what attracts Russell more than anything else is his approach towards the affairs of life. He did not blindly follow any authority but gave more value to experimental verification. He believed in the inductive method of reasoning in which lies the true spirit of science. Through experiments he refuted some of Aristotle's theories. This shook the foundation of the Church because the Christianity of that age was mainly based on Aristotle‘s philosophy. ~ .
He succeeded in proving the Copernican theory that the earth revolves around the, sun. 6n this point he came in direct clash with the Church, The lnquisition inflicted on him the punishment of house arrest for disturbing the established beliefs. He died in this state in 1642. it is interesting to note that 350 years after his death. the Church declared ofticially in 1992 that the punishment of this great scientist was a serious mistake committed by the Inquisition.
What Is the scientific method and what are the two stages of the method?
The method by which we reach general truths of universal nature is called ‘scientific method'. it is a very simple process and consists in observing facts carefully. The observer then discovers the ruling principle. There are two stages of this method : observation and inference. . Obervation: This is the first stage of the scienttic process. The man who first said 'fire burns' had employed scientific method. He would have allowed himself to be burnt several times. . . '
Inference: lnference means to draw a conclusion. When we say that hre bums, we infer this results on the basis of our keen observation of the process.
Similarly, a scientist also draws certain conclusions on the basis of his observation of facts.

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