The 'Horseshoe' of Western Science

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A model is proposed for interpreting the course of Western Science’s conception of mathematics from the time of the ancient Greeks to the present day. According to this model, philosophy of science, in general, has traced a horseshoe-shaped curve through time. The ‘horseshoe’ emerges with Pythagoras and other Greek scientists and has curved ‘back’—but not quite back—towards modern trends in philosophy of science, as for example espoused by Bas van Fraassen. Two features of a horseshoe are pertinent to this metaphor: (1) The horseshoe’s semicircular shape models the emergence of science from monism towards dualism, and its modern return towards unity. (2) The logical ‘horseshoe’ operator (“if…then”) makes possible the logical rule ‘modus ponens’--so central to Western science’s deductive approach (which is reaching its limits). Descartes fits approximately at the turning point of the curve. ‘Where might the curve go next?’ is posed to the reader.
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Archival date: 2016-07-11
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