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Basic Structures of Reality

Colin McGinn

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199841103
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919529 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199841103.001.0001
Basic Structures of Reality

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This book deals with questions of metaphysics, epistemology, and philosophy of mind from the vantage point of physics. Combining general philosophy with physics, it covers such topics as the definition of matter, the nature of space, motion, gravity, electromagnetic fields, the character of physical knowledge, and consciousness and meaning. Throughout, the book maintains an historical perspective and seeks to determine how much we really know of the world described by physics. It defends a version of “structuralism”: the thesis that our knowledge is partial and merely abstract, leaving a large epistemological gap at the center of physics. The book then connects this element of mystery to parallel mysteries in relation to the mind. Consciousness emerges as just one more mystery of physics. A theory of matter and space is developed, according to which the impenetrability of matter is explained as the deletion of volumes of space. The book proposes a philosophy of science that distinguishes physics from both psychology and biology, explores the ontology of energy, and considers the relevance of physics to seemingly remote fields such as the theory of meaning. In the form of a series of aphorisms, this book presents a metaphysical system that takes laws of nature as fundamental.

Keywords: metaphysics; epistemology; philosophy of mind; physics; matter; space; motion; gravity; electromagnetic fields; physical knowledge

Book.  256 pages. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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Table of Contents

Introduction in Basic Structures of Reality

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The Concept of Matter in Basic Structures of Reality

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What Is a Physical Object? in Basic Structures of Reality

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The Possibility of Motion in Basic Structures of Reality

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Motion, Change, and Physics in Basic Structures of Reality

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The Law of Inertia in Basic Structures of Reality

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Mass, Gravity, and Motion in Basic Structures of Reality

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Electric Charge: A Case Study in Basic Structures of Reality

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Two Types of Science in Basic Structures of Reality

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The Ontology of Energy in Basic Structures of Reality

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