Jim Schofield is a retired Professor, Theoretical Physicist and devoted polymath with very diverse interests, from Computer Science and Sculpture, to Dance and Mathematics. He has been writing critically on the Philosophy of Science for many decades, and began publishing his extensive research in this area online, after establishing SHAPE Journal with Dr. Peter Mothersole and his son Mick Schofield, in 2009.
Before taking early retirement in the 1990s due to ill health, Schofield was Director of Information Technology at Goldsmiths College, University of London. Prior to that post he worked in computer-aided research in many different fields including Mathematics, Biology, Engineering and Dance Education.
For many years Jim Schofield was active in left-wing politics, a former member of the Labour Party and Young Socialists, and later the Workers Revolutionary Party. While critical of the movement he continues to be a committed Marxist, and it is from this philosophical standpoint, and his many decades of experience as a researcher and teacher, that his profound criticism of contemporary science stems.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I come from a very working class background. My early years were spent in a slum in wartime Manchester, UK. We had nothing. Thanks to the Labour government of 1945 our family was given a new council house with a garden, we thought we'd found paradise, and I learned about socialism for the first time. I went to Grammar School and eventually on to University to study physics. But these origins have certainly affected my politics and worldview - how could they not?
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Christopher Caudwell's The Crisis in Physics hits the nail firmly on the head. This marxist-critique of the situation in the 1930s in Sub Atomic Physics was a significant step in the right direction, philosophically, and were it not for Caudwell's death fighting Franco in the Spanish Civil War, there is no doubt he would have taken this subject a great deal further. As it is, no further significant contributions have been forthcoming from surviving "marxists", so 73 years after his book was first published, I'm trying to do it!
Man Makes Himself by V. Gordon Childe is a fantastic piece of prehistorical archaeology, and the book has had a lasting effect on my thinking. How can we understand where we are today, without examining where we came from? Who we are and who we were? Historical context is key to understanding anything.
David Bohm's Chance and Causality in Modern Physics may not demolish the rampant idealism we now see in the field, but it shows that alternative explanations and interpretations of what we see at the Quantum level are both possible and necessary - this is just a 'theory' after all, it is surprising how little we really know.
Zeno's Paradoxes by Wesley Salmon is one of the best books on mathematics I've ever read, as it deals with it philosophically - a rare thing.
Das Kapital by Karl Marx is a vital work, to my research, and to understanding generally, because it shows how dialectical materialism works as a methodology for understanding the bigger picture - this is certainly his masterpiece.
The Real Philosophy of Science by Jim Schofield presents a damning indictment of contemporary physics and explores the historical reasons for science's flawed development. As both a philosopher and a theoretical physicist, Schofield offers unique insight into both these fields, sets out an alternative approach, and calls for a new intellectual revolution.