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2010年英语四级考试精读荟萃100篇(3)-科学探索的方法

时间:2010-05-21 06:52:53 字体:[ ]

这是篇议论文,论及科学探索的方法,总体是因果写法,具体分析又是对比写法。作者采用问答方式探究为什么希腊文明顶峰之后两千年,科技发展缓慢,而最近两百年又迅速发展超越前人,其原因在哪里?是采用新,旧方法所致,历史之偶然性,还是上天安排。

然后以现代用归纳法,古代用演绎法太狭隘说明科学总是在观察,实验,检验,证实中前进。但事实难以解释慢和快的现象。最后以“对立”——事实和理论对立古代重视事实来解释。然这两者是对立的统一。真正的理论就是事实。事实,构成之间具逻辑联系,就具有理论的一切正面特性。这种区分虽不足以解释科学研究中真正方法,但奠定了良好的基础,含有真正方法中的重要特性。

Method of Scientific Inquiry

Why the inductive and mathematical sciences, after their first rapid development at the culmination of Greek civilization, advanced so slowly for two thousand years—and why in the following two hundred years a knowledge of natural and mathematical science has accumulated, which so vastly exceeds all that was previously known that these sciences may be justly regarded as the products of our own times—are questions which have interested the modern philosopher not less than the objects with which these sciences are more immediately conversant. Was it the employment of a new method of research, or in the exercise of greater virtue in the use of the old methods, that this singular modern phenomenon had its origin? Was the long period one of arrested development, and is the modern era one of normal growth? Or should we ascribe the characteristics of both periods to so-called historical accidents—to the influence of conjunctions in circumstances of which no explanation is possible, save in the omnipotence and wisdom of a guiding Providence?

The explanation which has become commonplace, that the ancients employed deduction chiefly in their scientific inquiries, while the moderns employ induction, proves to be too narrow, and fails upon close examination to point with sufficient distinctness the contrast that is evident between ancient and modern scientific doctrines and inquiries. For all knowledge is founded on observation, and proceeds from this by analysis, by synthesis and analysis, by induction and deduction, and if possible by verification, or by new appeals to observation under the guidance of deduction—by steps which are indeed correlative parts of one method; and the ancient sciences afford examples of every one of these methods, or parts of one method, which have been generalized from the examples of science.

A failure to employ or to employ adequately any one of these partial methods, an imperfection in the arts and resources of observation and experiment, carelessness in observation, neglect of relevant facts, by appeal to experiment and observation—these are the faults which cause all failures to ascertain truth, whether among the ancients or the moderns; but this statement does not explain why the modern is possessed of a greater virtue, and by what means he attained his superiority. Much less does it explain the sudden growth of science in recent times.

The attempt to discover the explanation of this phenomenon in the antithesis of “facts” and “theories” or “facts” and “ideas”—in the neglect among the ancients of the former, and their too exclusive attention to the latter—proves also to be too narrow, as well as open to the charge of vagueness. For in the first place, the antithesis is not complete. Facts and theories are not coordinate species. Theories, if true, are facts—a particular class of facts indeed, generally complex, and if a logical connection subsists between their constituents, have all the positive attributes of theories.

Nevertheless, this distinction, however inadequate it may be to explain the source of true method in science, is well founded, and connotes an important character in true method. A fact is a proposition of simple. A theory, on the other hand, if true has all the characteristics of a fact, except that its verification is possible only by indirect, remote, and difficult means. To convert theories into facts is to add simple verification, and the theory thus acquires the full characteristics of a fact.

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