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Philosophy of Symmetry

Philosophy of Symmetry


Item Code: IDG115


Hardcover (Edition: 2004)

ISBN 8179860426

Language: English
Size: 8.9" X 5.8"
Pages: 167
Weight of the Book: 372 gms
Price: $27.50
Discounted: $20.62   Shipping Free
Viewed times since 25th Jan, 2014


About the Book:

The ideas of symmetry is one of the most important and pervasive ideas, occurring in disciplines ranging from the sciences to the arts. Symmetry is manifested very widely in the natural world as seen in the intricate shapes, patterns and colours of both inanimate and animate beings. It is a guiding principle in modern physics and is an integral part of many important works in architecture, sculpture, music, painting and so on.

This book discusses some of the essential themes that will help us understand the philosophical foundations of symmetry in all its manifestations. The Philosophical analysis in two parts: metaphysical and phenomenological. The first draws upon metaphysics and considers the relation between symmetry and categories such as objects, form, properties, laws, invariance and change, thereby exhibiting symmetry as an 'essential' properly that inheres in objects and processes. This part also discusses in some detail the metaphysics of groups, which are the mathematical objects that describe symmetry in science.

There is also a significant phenomenological experience of symmetry, which is captured by the use of terms such as balance, unity, simplicity, beauty, boredom and harmony. The phenomenological analysis of symmetry begins with phenomenology of perception, then considers the relation between Gestalt principles of vision and symmetry, and finally addresses the aesthetics of symmetry, which includes a discussion on the relation between beauty and symmetry.

About the Author:

Sundar Sarukkai is a Fellow in the History and Philosophy of Science Unit at the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore. He is trained in physics and philosophy and has a PhD from Purdue University, USA. He was a Homi Bhabha Fellow from 1997-99 and Advanced Study, Shimla from 1999-2001. He is the author of Translating the World. Science and Language, published by the University Press of America in 2002. He is a member of the Advisory Board of the International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology (ISAST). Currently, he holds a PHISPC Fellowship to complete a book on the relevance of Indian philosophy to contemporary philosophy of science.


1Symmetry in Nature1
2Symmetry of Figures4
3Symmetry and Science5
3.1 Broken symmetry and asymmetry11
3.2 Functions of symmetry in science12
4Symmetry and Groups15
5General Symmetry Principles17
6Symmetry in Art18
7So What is Symmetry?21
1.1 What is an object?25
1.2 Form and objects27
1.3 Abstract objects29
1.4 Shape or symmetry?33
1.5 Tropes and symmetry36
1.6 Quantum objects38
2Sets, Groups and Classes39
2.1 Sets and groups: some differences39
2.2 Classes42
2.3 Groups and classes45
2.4 Membership49
2.5 Singletons and partition of groups52
2.6 Ontological commitment to groups58
3.1 Change and symmetry65
3.2 Centre of mass and oriented form68
3.3 Mathematical change73
3.4 Invariance75
4.1 Nature of properties83
4.2 Role of properties86
4.3 Symmetry as property88
4.4 Shape or symmetry? A lesson from physics90
4.5 Symmetry as first-order property?
An analogy from motion
5Conservation Laws and Conserved Properties98
1Phenomenology of Perception107
2Form and Vision111
3Symmetry, Form and the gestalt113
3.1 Gestalt laws of perception114
3.2 Groups and the Gestalt115
4Observing Symmetry119
4.1 Explanation and observation121
4.2 Invariance vs. independence123
5Symmetry and Aesthetics125
7Beauty and Art134
8Beauty in Science136
9Beauty as Value140
10Symmetry and Beauty143

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