Epperson - CSUS - Philosophy 002 - Philosophical Ethics
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History & Philosophy
of Science Program

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The course:  In recent decades, the physical sciences and the technologies borne of them have become so highly formalized and proprietary that it is often the case that even professional scientists have little understanding of fundamental scientific theories beyond the scope of their own specialties. Thus, as our worldview becomes more and more centered upon science and technology, the average person is ironically expected to understand less and less about that worldview. One might therefore anticipate that as science continues to evolve, our engagement of it will likely steadily drift more and more toward passive, uncritical inheritance rather than active participation. But the history of the evolution of our current scientific worldview reveals a very different story—one where it is not only the science that drives the worldview, but also one in which the worldview drives the science.

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In this course, we will explore this thesis by studying the historical evolution of the intuitive (i.e., in the Greek sense of careful koinos nous or ‘common sense’) conceptual foundations of modern physics, including the special and general theories of relativity and the latest interpretations of quantum mechanics. We will trace this evolution from its origins in ancient natural philosophy, through the medieval and early modern periods and the Enlightenment, up to the present day.

Within the discipline of history, this course falls within the framework of the history of ideas--a field of research in history that deals with the expression, preservation, and evolution of ideas. The history of ideas is a central component of the discipline of intellectual history. Intellectual history refers to the historiography of ideas and thinkers, and, as practiced by historians, can include the history of philosophy and the history of science.

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