Intermediary Quotes (3 quotes)
As an empiricist I continue to think of the conceptual scheme of science as a tool, ultimately, for predicting future experience in the light of past experience. Physical objects are conceptually imported into the situation as convenient intermediaries—not by definition in terms of experience, but simply as irreducible posits comparable, epistemologically, to the gods of Homer. For my part I do, qua lay physicist, believe in physical objects and not in Homer's gods; and I consider it a scientific error to believe otherwise. But in point of epistemological footing the physical objects and the gods differ only in degree and not in kind. Both sorts of entities enter our conception only as cultural posits. The myth of physical objects is epistemologically superior to most in that it has proved more efficacious than other myths as a device for working a manageable structure into the flux of experience.
The essential molecule of reproduction, DNA, … is composed of only four nitrogen bases (adenine, thymine, guanine, and cytosine), the sugar deoxyribose, and a phosphate. DNA’s intermediary, RNA, differs only by the substitution of the sugar ribose for deoxyribose and the nitrogen base uracil for thymine. The proteins of living organisms are made with a mere 20 amino acids, all arranged in a “left-handed” configuration. Taking into account all 28 building blocks, or “letters” (20 amino acids, five bases, two sugars, and one phosphate), the message is clear: With such a limited alphabet, all life must have had a common chemical origin.
The tool which serves as intermediary between theory and practice, between thought and observation, is mathematics; it is mathematics which builds the linking bridges and gives the ever more reliable forms. From this it has come about that our entire contemporary culture, inasmuch as it is based on the intellectual penetration and the exploitation of nature, has its foundations in mathematics. Already Galileo said: one can understand nature only when one has learned the language and the signs in which it speaks to us; but this language is mathematics and these signs are mathematical figures.