Science is not now what it was at its start. Its results are impersonal. Inspiration and aesthetic judgment are important in the development of scientific theories, but the verification of these theories relies finally on impartial experimental tests of their predictions. Though mathematics is used in the formulation of physical theories and in working out their consequences, science is not a branch of mathematics, and scientific theories cannot be deduced by purely mathematical reasoning. Science and technology benefit each other, but at its most fundamental level science is not undertaken for any practical reason. Though science has nothing to say one way or the other about the existence of God or the afterlife, its goal is to find explanations of natural phenomena that are purely naturalistic. Science is cumulative; each new theory incorporates successful earlier theories as approximations, and even explains why these approximations work, when they do work.I can only assume that he is dissatisfied with science historian accounts of the so-called scientific revolution. Usually they emphasize all the wrong things.
None of this was obvious to the scientists of the ancient world or the Middle Ages, and it was learned only with great difficulty in the scientific revolution of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Nothing like modern science was a goal from the beginning. So how then did we get to the scientific revolution, and beyond it to where we are now? That is what we must try to learn as we explore the discovery of modern science.
I haven't seen the book. He appears to have the view that science got fully on track around the time of Newton, but he also credits the ancients for doing brilliant work. Greek astronomy, as perfected by Ptolemy, was a great mathematical theory of the heavens. Newton's work made it all much more scientific because it gave a causal mechanism for the planetary orbits.
I would add that Newton's theory was still not truly causal, as there was no mechanism for how the Sun could affect the motion of a planet millions of miles away. It was a mysterious action at a distance. This was not resolved until general relativity, starting with Poincare's theory of gravity waves in 1905. His was the first truly causal theory of gravity.
Weinberg is hated by the philosophers because of articles against paradigm shifts and a book chapter against philosophy. Now I see that most philosophers have a mental disorder:
Mental illness in academic philosophyThese rights are surprisingly high. I think of philosophers as level-headed folks, but I guess that is wrong. I wonder how other academic disciplines compare.
With over 1500 responses, more than 60% of respondents reported some diagnosis for mental illness, with almost one in four respondents mentioning depression in particular. There is substantial co-morbidity between depression and the various anxiety disorders, as there are among the anxiety disorders, so, e.g., the 24% that report depression may also include some of the 5% that checked social anxiety disorder or the 4% that chose OCD.