Research Paper On Lucretius Thought Experiment

975 Words4 Pages
The Lucretius Thought Experiment Thought experiments can be useful scientific tools for attempting to understand situations that cannot realistically be tested for a variety of reasons. They have served as the basis for many scientific revolutions, from Galileo’s refutation of Aristotle by deducing that all objects must fall at the same rate to Einstein’s thought experiments which contributed to his formulation of the theory of relativity. While it may appear that such experiments use nothing more than cognition to arrive at facts about existence, they can in fact be decomposed into arguments. In this paper, I will demonstrate that although the Roman philosopher Lucretius’ thought experiment regarding the infinity of the universe appears at first to derive truths about…show more content…
As described in John D. Norton’s article “Why Thought Experiments do not Transcend Empiricism,” Aristotle once conducted a thought experiment regarding the infinity of the universe. In essence, the thought experiment argues that given two infinite parallel lines in space, rotating one line gives the paradoxical result that it first bisects the other at an angle of zero degrees . This apparent inconsistency leads Aristotle to the conclusion that space then cannot be infinite. First, Aristotle’s thought experiment uses some of the same implicit premises about the geometry of space that raised objections with Lucretius’ thought experiment. More importantly though, both thought experiments manage to use seemingly reasonable premises to derive contradictory conclusions about the structure of the universe. Seeing how these “thought experiments” and the empirical experiences that go along with them can support both possibilities suggests convincingly that neither of these arguments is rigorously justified enough to be reasonable sure of its
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