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The Enigma Of The Universe : Prof. Henry Margenau

Published: 27.08.2014

Prof. Henry Margenau is a well-known scholar of modern Science. He has presented an independent and original view regarding the philosophy of science. In his treatise on the philosophy of the modern physics entitled "The Nature of Physical Reality" he has elucidated the subject on the basis of epistemological and scientific methods. At one place, clearly denying the subjective character of reality, he writes, "Certainly, we want reality to be more permanent than our fleeting sense impressions: the tree, to be real, must be in front of my window even when I am not looking at it."[1]

Again he mentions. "Real is that which partakes of the nature of a thing as distinct from thought...No one can reasonably hold that all attributes which characterize even the simplest variety of things are external and are given by sensory perception alone."[2]

These quotations make it clear that Prof. Margenau does not accept the view that the universe is merely a subjective reality. According to his view, our senses cannot perceive wholly the objective reality; all the same a relation can be established between the real objects and the sensual perception through some means which he terms as 'constructs'.[3] Constructs are not merely imagi­nary or ideal. As for example, he calls the electron a "construct." Explaining the use of this word, he writes: "The electron, as an external object, is the construct. Of all the words readily available, 'concept' is the closest to what we wish to designate; but a desire to avoid commitment to realism on the one hand and to idealism on the other, and to avoid reopening the problems which such a commitment would involve, has determined the author to continue the use of the less customary term."[4] Thus, we see that Prof. Margenau has found a middle way between idealism and realism.


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Title: The Enigma Of The Universe Publisher: JVB University Ladnun English Edition: 2010 HN4U Online Edition: 2014

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  1. Henry Margenau
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