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Editorial 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

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.

©2010 David Harriman (P)2010 Audible, Inc.

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  • David
  • Tiburon, CA, United States
  • 08-17-10

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.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Eric
  • San bernardino, CA, United States
  • 10-12-10

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.

12 of 15 people found this review helpful

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Fascinating, profound philosophical work

Would you listen to The Logical Leap again? Why?

This book is a profound exploration of one of philosophy's most challenging problems: The epistemological problem of inductive logic, and the establishment of truths about the material world. Harriman shows, using intensive explorations of the experimental science of Galileo, Newton, Watterston, and other scientists, how scientific laws and theories can be proven. I have listened to it three times, learning new things each time, and deepening my understanding of both the matter of the book, science itself, and logic.

Have you listened to any of Erik Singer’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

The narrator does a fantastic job. His pace is perfect, and his inflection is natural. He doesn't seem to be reading.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Surprisingly engaging

When I got this book, I had some doubts that it won't be easy to follow. especially that I listen to my audio books while driving through the video game-like traffic of Beijing. But, I was pleasantly surprised to how easy it was to listen to. I studied.., or rather memorized many of these theories at school, but it was intriguing to hear how these theories came about. it is the story behind the theories, and the philosophical presentation of how the theories connected that was very engaging. I also loved how the narrators impersonated the accent of the scientist that he is quoting. i.e. using Italian accent when quoting Amedeo Avogadro.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael
  • Walnut Creek, CA, United States
  • 04-18-11

Interesting but Naive...

As an overview of the inductive scientific method and a selected history of science this was an interesting listen. As a foundation for a philosophy of science, it is weak. As a critique of modern physic theoretical methods it is na??ve.

The author states that ???Theoretical physicists???have rejected causality in favor of chance, logic in favor of contradictions, and reality in favor of fantasy. The science of physics is now riddled with claims that are as absurd as those of any religious cult.??? Well, this is true, but it is not due to improper method or a lack of trying. Experiments have led to this very uncomfortable position. The author justifiably derides string theory, but less justifiably derides quantum theory in general, wondering why Bohm???s quantum theory is not more studied. Bohm???s theory is interesting (and has been studied), but does not have testable differences and is less easily used for predictions, thus it has been set aside (not rejected). Bohm???s theory is just one among myriads of untestable and less practical quantum theories. Great minds (including Einstein???s) have striven for generations to suggest experiments to clarify the quantum world, to little avail. The author generally describes scientific induction (which is interesting) but such induction is only one tool of scientific progress and induction has, in fact, been stymied for generations by a universe that is stranger than we had imagined.

I am a fan of Ayn Rand as a novelist, and a thinker, not quite as a philosopher, and definitely not a scientist. One of the few weaknesses of Rand???s mind was a narrowness of perspective that seems to be reflected in this book. The narration is excellent.

I found "The Trouble with Physics" a more penetrating review of the issues facing modern physics.

10 of 17 people found this review helpful

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Physics is dead. Long live physics!

If you can get around Objectivism's irresistible urge to slander Christianity wherever it may be found, blame it for every evil and ignore its every virtue, this book could add much to your understanding of how we have arrived at a place where leading physicist demy the law of identity, the law of causality and the law of non-contradiction.

Trace the effects of logical positivism as relates to modern quantum physics and learn how this sticky subject of inductive logic works with reference to the supposedly hard sciences.

If you don't have a philosophy of science, (and who but philosophers do?) you cannot afford to avoid asking these questions and confronting the history of scientific investigation.

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Great book

Great listen that is essential for navigating the dominant theories. The narrator's imitated accents seemed unnecessary but otherwise perfect.

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I think John Galt would love this book

Before I begin my review, I will admit that I was not able to get significantly into the book before I had to stop listening. My free time is too limited and precious, and I couldn't waste it finishing this book.

For those (like myself) who consider Ayn Rand to be the baby boomers' version of Ann Coulter, it is hard to take seriously any piece of work that was funded by an institute in her name. The book begins by presenting an absurd and indefensible premise, and then proceeds to refute it anyway. The indefensible premise is that science can't prove anything, and the author starts in with the whole "if science can't prove anything then how did men ever walk on the moon" thing. At that point I realized the book wasn't for me. I was hoping for something akin to Kuhn's 'The Structure of Scientific Revolutions', but I don't think this is it. I will say again however, I did not get far into the book.

If Ayn Rand is your thing then I say go for it. On the other hand, if you believe that Ayn Rand wrote fluffy soft core porn for rich insecure people, then you might want to preview this book carefully before purchasing it. I wish I had.

11 of 30 people found this review helpful

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  • Philip
  • Ann Arbor, MI, United States
  • 03-28-15

Interesting stuff, requires a patient listner

I do understand why the narrator found it necessary to imitate the Ayn Rand's Russian accent. I found this annoying and distracting.

The story is dry.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Philosophy is a strong word

Surely there must be some minimum standard for a book to be called philosophy - If The Logical Leap is a book on the Philosophy of Science then Chicken Soup for the Soul is book on Moral Philosophy. David Harriman thanks the Ayn Rand society for funding his writing and thinking (again a rather strong choice of words). Perhaps the Society will get a good return on their investment but in an intellectual sense - as with Chicken Soup - this is a failure of the market. - So we are told that everything can be proven with certainty when based on Sense Perceptions - which are "self evident" - well yes they are evident to the self who perceives them - but that does not mean they are a true representation of reality - nor that the inductive relationships we perceive between them are true or better than all other possible constructs. This book would make an interesting psychological study on Confirmation Bias - it could only be believed if you really really wanted to believe it - or were paid to. I must admit I couldn't finish it - but in the spirit of Ayn Rand I will if someone will pay me (really really well). . .

5 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • Harris Totle
  • 06-02-15

This book is life changing.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?


What other book might you compare The Logical Leap to, and why?

Singularly important, there is no similar book.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?


Any additional comments?

Harriman puts induction squarely back its throne where it deserves to be...and in so doing curses David Hume for his unsophisticated assessment of same.

  • Overall
  • Simon
  • 02-13-13

Fascinating subject, rediculous answer!

This book begins by asking one of the most fascinating questions for anyone with an interest in the philosophy of science, however it goes on to solve these problems by abandoning all traditional views of epistemology in favour of those of Ayn Rand!!

I confess that having realised just how Rand centric this book was I did not continue to the end and so can't comment on how successfuly this was done. However unless you happen to be a fannatic Rand supporter I question the purpose of understanding how to justify scientific induction in terms of her epistemology. Just as there is no purpose to being able to solve the problem, assuming the moon is made of chease, there is little point to knowing a solution that hinges on this premise that almost no one will ever accept.