Symmetry And Group

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By Miller G.A.

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100 Our response, however, is, No. Answers have been given to different questions in a certain order and at various times in history. ” But what is thought to be a permanent problem P is really a number of transitory problems p1 p2 p3 . . whose individual peculiarities are blurred by the historical myopia of the person who lumps them together under the one name P. ” We have to begin, as poor devils of historians begin, from the other end. We have to study documents and interpret them. We have to say “here is a passage of Leibniz; what is it about?

The realization that symmetry may be applied as a key concept for attaining insight into scientific practice is at the core of the philosophical argument which considers symmetry a methodological concept. To address this philosophical aspect, we refer to the analysis of Bas C. ”47 Van Fraassen classifies symmetry philosophically, rather than by the domain of its application. ” This leads him to recast the problem in group theoretic terms. He writes, Alternatively put: why is group theory so effective in describing the physical world?

4 Historiographical Considerations 29 relation. Historical influences depend on acknowledged dependence (or a plausibly reconstructed dependence)—but if thinker A did not see any relation between his concept a and thinker B’s concept b, and if the relation of a and b depends on us, the modern onlookers, then we are no longer observers but essential participants in this historical development, introducing elements foreign to the process under discussion. In this way the “historian” intrudes his or her modern conception into the process, but attains no understanding of the relation of any thinker to his or her predecessors.

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