The Marriage of Sense and Thought

Imaginative Participation in Science

By Stephen Edelglass, Georg Maier, Hans Gebert and John Davy

ISBN: 9781584201069
Lindisfarne Books, Renewal in Science
New edition 2011 Paperback, 160 pages, $18.00


Having imagined a machine-like world, scientists now haunt this machine uneasily. Their plight is paradoxical: They have realized their world only through intense mental effort, yet this effort finds no legitimate place in the world it so painstakingly comprehends. It seems “objectivity” only comes at a cost. Why, for example, is science unable to describe a smile? Why is the moral life of a physicist regarded as his or her own private affair?
This exclusion of human qualities from science has practical as well as theoretical consequences. If we systematically imagine a world in which human beings don’t exist, we will eventually create a world in which they can’t exist.

Few would question the fact that sense experience originally provided a firm basis for empirical natural science. Yet contemporary science has reduced the world to particles and forces that lie well beyond the reach of our human senses. The extraordinary—and alienating—fact is that human experience no longer has a place within our scientific worldview. The authors of this book have begun to unravel this paradox. They show that the concepts of modern physics such as mass, force, or velocity are deeply rooted in the experience of specific senses. Each of our senses is a gateway into a different aspect of the world. This insight throws a new light on the dilemmas of contemporary science, such as the wave-particle duality in quantum mechanics. By recognizing the essential role of sense perception in scientific knowledge, this highly readable book lays the foundations for a science that, while maintaining its rigorous methodology, can begin to incorporate the fullness of human experience into its domain.

“In this brilliant book, the authors build a fascinating bridge between science and the world of the senses, a bridge that holds great promise for overcoming the fragmentation and alienation that is so characteristic of our time.”—Fritjof Capra, author of The Tao of Physics and The Web of Life


Preface to the Second Edition



1. Two Smiles

The Scientific View

Inner Experience and the Outer Environment

2. The Deeper Roots of Materialism

Space, Matter, Time, Force, Energy

The Craftsman and the Scholar

The Relation of Materialism to Sense Experience

The Sense of Touch

The Somatic Sense

The Kinesthetic Sense

The Sense of Balance

The Body Reaches Out: Eyes

Galileo: Scholar and Craftsman

3. Changing Relations to Physical Reality

The Origins of Terrestrial and Celestial Mechanics

The Lonely Self

The Rise of Technology and the Concept of Energy

Electricity Challenges Mechanical Thinking

The Enigma of Quantum Reality

Relativity Theory Also Challenges Ordinary Thinking

Models and the Creation of Scientific Knowledge

4. Conscious Participation

A Thunderstorm and Acoustics

Scientific Thinking Leads to General Concepts

The Thunderstorm Again

The Two Roots of Vision

Looking at a Lake

Looking into Water—Reflections as Space Creators

Looking into Water—Visible and Tangible Objects

No Longer Coincide

Looking into Water—Color Aspects

In Search of Real Color

Geometrical Representations of Nonspatial Qualities

Independent Physical Principles Cooperate

A Visit to the Realm of Imaging

A Visit to the Realm of Chemical Action at a Distance

5. Science Coming of Age

Mathematical Physics: Exercise for

the Development of Sense-free Thinking

From Nature to Knowledge

The Objectivist Worldview

The Nature of the Physical World

Biology As a Science of Life


Morality and Choice in Science



About the Authors