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The Enigma Of The Universe : Influence of Plato and Berkeley

Published: 22.12.2014
Updated: 13.01.2015

Jeans's philosophy seems to be more influenced by the ancient western philosophies than Eddington's Philosophy. In his view, Jeans has tried to renovate the philosophies of Plato and Berkeley. The main features of Plato's philosophy are readily seen in Jeans's philosophy. Like Plato, Jeans has endeavored to depict God as the creator of the universe. His statement that "from the intrinsic evidence of his creation, the Great Architect of the Universe now begins to appear as a Pure Mathematician" implies that he considers God as a Pure Mathematician and the Universe as the creation of this Pure Mathematician. Also, Plato's Theory of Ideas appears to be reflected in Jeans's view. Plato's famous illustration of cave is used by Jeans to illustrate his own view. His belief that when we try to discover the nature of reality behind the shadows, we are confronted with the fact that all discussion of the ultimate nature of things must necessarily be barren unless we have some extraneous standards against which to compare with and that 'the real essence of substances' is forever unknowable, essentially seems to be an image of Plato's transcendentalism.[1] We find also the tint of Berkeley's subjective idealism in Jeans's view. He has clearly expressed that the modern science seems to him to lead to a conclusion similar to that of Berkeley which states that the objectivity of the universe arises from its subsisting in the minds of some Eternal Spirit.

Thus, it appears that Jeans has indirectly adopted the views of the philosophers like Plato and Berkeley. But the student of the history of western philosophy knows it quite well that the fallacies in the philosophies of these philosophers have been exposed threadbare by the critics. Accusing Jeans of having remained ignorant of the criticisms of the views of those philosophers, Prof. Stebbing remarks: "Jeans, who believes it to be an advantage not to be trained in philosophy or to have an inclination for it if one wishes to draw philosophical conclusions from physics, seems nevertheless to have read both Plato and Berkeley. Evidently he has not studied any criticisms of either of these philosophers and is consequently unaware that he has put forward views that, in the opinion of most philosophers, have been decisively refuted."[2]


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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. Berkeley
  2. Objectivity
  3. Plato
  4. Science
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