The Logical Leap

  • by David Harriman
  • Narrated by Erik Singer
  • 10 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

A groundbreaking solution to the problem of induction, based on Ayn Rand's theory of concepts.
Inspired by and expanding on a series of lectures presented by Leonard Peikoff, David Harriman presents a fascinating answer to the problem of induction-the epistemological question of how we can know the truth of inductive generalizations. Ayn Rand presented her revolutionary theory of concepts in her book Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. As Dr. Peikoff subsequently explored the concept of induction, he sought out David Harriman, a physicist who had taught philosophy, for his expert knowledge of the scientific discovery process. Here, Harriman presents the result of a collaboration between scientist and philosopher.
Beginning with a detailed discussion of the role of mathematics and experimentation in validating generalizations in physics-looking closely at the reasoning of scientists such as Galileo, Kepler, Newton, Lavoisier, and Maxwell-Harriman skillfully argues that the inductive method used in philosophy is in principle indistinguishable from the method used in physics.

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Audible Editor Reviews

Ayn Rand fans and science geeks rejoice: Objectivism's intellectual heir Leonard Peikoff joins forces with Defense Department physicist David Harriman to bring you this treatise on the proliferation of irrationality in postmodern scientific theory. Peikoff knows his philosophy and Harriman knows his science. Prepare for the brave new worlds of quantum mechanics and string theory to be crushed between them.
Your energetic guide through the quirky business of quarks is narrator Erik Singer, expert teacher of speech and dialects. In addition to capably mimicking that weirdo physics teacher you had in high school, he showcases the full range of his European accents. As Harriman charts a course from the scientific method of ancient Greece to the bogus speculations of modern Germany, Singer does each and every quotation in the accent of its author. Most gratifying, of course, is his light Russian accenting on the choice bits of Ayn Rand in Peikoff's introduction and introductory chapter.
The first two-thirds of the book outline a history of the scientific method from the Objectivist viewpoint. From Galileo to Newton to Kepler, from astronomy to chemistry to physics, Harriman identifies major breakthroughs and corresponding missteps in well-known scientific discoveries as they relate to the problem of induction. The problem is whether induction, or generalization, is a reasonable way to draw conclusions. Harriman argues that good scientists uses math and experiment to prove inductive conclusions, and that the same principle can be applied to inductive conclusions in philosophy.
If you have an interest in Ayn Rand's theory of concepts and are willing to wade through all the physics, this is the book for you. Or if you have an interest in physics and are willing to sit through the hyperbole and didacticism that are threaded throughout the Objectivist interpretation, this is the book for you. Singer's voice work goes a long way to make this tome palatable, but it is for those with strength of mind, not for those faint of heart. —Megan Volpert

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Wonderful journey through scientific history

This is a very well written and brilliantly conceived book. I am very interested in sciences, and have studied science most of my life, so I found this subject very appealing. However, I think it is still very accessible for those with less of a background in science.

On one hand, it weaves a fantastic journey through the history of great science. Hundreds of years of experiment and discovery that come across so beautifully. This is expertly tied to philosophical references and counterpoints throughout. So beyond a story of the development of what we now consider basic knowledge (which alone would be interesting enough), we also learn about the logical and correct way that people can use observation and experimentation to derive universal truths. We also learn when to dismiss what cannot be true.

The narrator, on the whole, does a great job. He has a good reading voice that is easy to follow and listen to. However, he uses very theatrical accents when reading quotations. No doubt they are very good accents, and suit those figures who first spoke them, but they distract immensely from the information that is being conveyed to the listener. That is my only complaint.

In summary, it's a great combination of amazing science, amazing characters, and valuable lessons of logic and inductive reasoning. I also appreciate that the structure of approach of this subject is related to Ayn Rand's philosophy and reasoning. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in science, history, philosophy, or thinking in general.
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- David

Quite refreshing

This was quite a refreshing read and I think an excellent start on a reality based philosophy of science. Having read Kuhn and other philosophers of science and thinking "WTF?!" as I was reading them, this book clearly delineates the point where they said good by to reality and why their philosophies seem to wander into relativism and contradiction.

If you are struggling with Kuhn or the nature of science, read this book.

The only thing that I could have done with less of was the constant almost sycophantic mentioning of Rand. I enjoy her philosophy, but this type of almost worshipful behavior is why people classify try to classify objectivism as a cult. Please stop, her ideas stand on their own. No worship is required.
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- Eric

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-06-2010
  • Publisher: Audible Studios