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Summary

Philosophers have long puzzled over the nature of space, time, and matter. These inquiries led to the flowering of physics with the Scientific Revolution in the 17th century. Since then, the spectacular success of modern physics might appear to have made philosophy irrelevant. But new theories have created a new range of philosophical concerns: What is the shape of space? Is time travel possible? Is there a grand unified theory that unites all of physics? 

Treating these and other puzzles with an entertaining and accessible approach, The Great Questions of Philosophy and Physics guides you through the concepts, theories, and speculations that underlie our understanding of reality. In 12 stimulating, half-hour lectures, award-winning teacher and philosopher Steven Gimbel of Gettysburg College covers the fundamental ideas of modern physics, highlighting the role of philosophy in setting ground rules, interpreting the results, and posing new questions.

Professor Gimbel describes the grand synthesis that Isaac Newton achieved with his universal theory of gravitation and its picture of absolute space and time. Then, you see how Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity, combined with quantum theory, overthrew the Newtonian paradigm, posing a host of philosophical puzzles. Among them is Erwin Schrödinger’s famous thought experiment about a cat that is simultaneously dead and alive according to the standard interpretation of quantum mechanics. You survey philosophical attempts to escape from this and other paradoxes, and you also investigate the role of mathematics in physical theories. Does its extraordinary success imply that the world is a mathematical system?

You close by exploring theological arguments that invoke the discoveries of physics to posit a creator God. As with other theories covered in the course, you carefully weigh both sides using scientific evidence and the tools of philosophy.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2020 The Great Courses (P)2020 The Teaching Company, LLC

What listeners say about The Great Questions of Philosophy and Physics

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excellent and witty reading.

excellent and witty reading. Interesting , erudite and wide-ranging content. good read. recommended.

2 people found this helpful

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Too few questions!

I have been trying to ”read” as many great courses as possible as they will disapear 31/7 from free for Audible subscribers! Stressful…so this book should cover more ground as so many more questions are left unsaid.

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excellent book!

I much enjoyed listening to this book and will listen through again. Maybe science is going to have to go back to it's philosophical beginnings, to make sense of the way this universe behaves.
To me this is a really good thing that will maybe re-open the scientific journey to things it couldn't possibly accept!

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  • Market Maven
  • 19-05-20

Great Overview to Philosophy of Science

First, let me say that Steven Gimbel is one of my favorite instructors in the Great Courses series. He is very witty and fun and brings a real positive sprit to his courses. Regarding this particular course, it is a great overview of the big questions of physics. I would say that this course is way more on the physics side than the philosophy side however. It is mostly dealing with quantum physics and all the weirdness that that entails. So the Great Questions deal here with physics, not as much philosophy. However, keeping that in mind, this course is highly recommended. I learned a lot and also, as I said, Professor Gimbal is always worth listening to,

14 people found this helpful

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  • Pastreh
  • 14-06-21

Great Listen

Great lectures walking through the history of philosophy and physics. This one actually makes sense as an audiobook - the supplemental material is nice, but not required to follow along. The narrator does a great job with his cadence of the lecture, with some good light humor mixed in.

5 people found this helpful

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  • ER
  • 17-12-20

OUTSTANDING

Professor Gimbel can explain and turn any seemingly complicated concept into a simple, easy-to-grasp understanding. His plethora of analogies and puns and comparisons were so funny that I laughed out loud through much of the book. I will listen to this one again and again. Thank you!!

4 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-01-21

superb!

one of the best great courses and review of modern physics for a non physicist

3 people found this helpful

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  • SAG123
  • 11-11-20

Well done

The concepts are deep. It took a second look/listen to fully understand and appreciate this course. Professor Gimbel is actually funny and I at times I almost laughed.

3 people found this helpful

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  • A. D. DeLong
  • 09-11-21

Interesting. Just wish it was longer

Good course just a little too short. But it raises interesting philosophical questions and tries to answer them

2 people found this helpful

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  • JCW
  • 24-04-22

Great Information and entertainment

I was greatly surprised how informative and entertaining these lectures were presented as a free bonus with the Audible subscription! The Professor was clear and concise while explaining these difficult topics in simple,easy terms. I recommend this audible for anyone interested in science and it’s philosophical background. Enjoy.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 29-03-22

Awesome

Awesome lectures. Awesome lecturer. I would love to hear more from this guy. Lots of energy and info. Good for meta’s and new learners of physics alike.

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  • Joseph
  • 10-03-22

Fantastic!

Fantastic. The book approaches physics and philosophy and it’s history in chronological order. It does go into depth with both and is current. The author injects humor as well as examples to clarify his points. It is both informative and entertaining - read with expressive enthusiasm.

One minor distraction: in the beginning, the variation in volume of his voice forced me to replay some portions that I could not hear well. If I turned the volume up then portions were far too loud. This was only in the beginning parts. After that it was fine. It’s a minor criticism of a fantastic work.

Years ago I bought a series of these “Great Courses” - without exception, they were all professionally done with solid facts orated by knowledgeable instructors or professors. I will look for more of these in Audible.

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  • Tatras
  • 03-08-21

Great inquiry!

Dense, but well explained, you almost don't need any preexisting knowledge of philosophy. Theory of relativity is. understandably explained and was most interesting for me albeit some philosophical implications is not discussed - I wanted more ontology! (or is a sudo question?) It's a bit more physics then it could be philosophy. Now (thats a most frequent word our professor uses), quantum mechanics is present too of course with all of its funny paradoxes - again some implications could be developed in a "wilder" way probably.
A bit hyperactive sounding nerdy professor, appropriate to the topic (I liked it!)...
One of my lame musing:
"If a believe is beyond human comprehension and science, then it must be beyond faith, because we can have faith." I don't agree with that, because racional comprehension is not the only one wehave, albeit it's the only one that can be communicated with words. And language inevitably simplifies reality - this kind of perception is fundamental for our perception of reality and maybe the measurements and understanding of physics too. But that's probably not part of philosophy of science.

1 person found this helpful