Study Guide

Foundation Philosophy (Science)

By Isaac Asimov

Philosophy (Science)

No surprises here. Asimov is a scientist born and bred, so it makes sense that science would get its due in Foundation. But let's get our definitions down first. Science as a philosophy says empirical evidence in addition to reason is the best source of knowledge on which to base our actions and decisions. And that's just how things play out in Foundation. The characters who follow reason and facts succeed where others give up or fail. And the characters that allow their emotions, personal stakes, or more violent urges determine their actions don't seem to end up with the happy endings. Quick, someone put Asimov in the OSTP!

Questions About Philosophy (Science)

  1. Which character do you think best represents the philosophy of science and reason in the novel? Speaking of evidence, we lit nerds like it, too: don't forget to give evidence to back up your reasoning.
  2. Bet you knew this was coming. What character do you think uses the philosophy of science and reason the least? (Don't forget that evidence.)
  3. Consider science as both a philosophy and as a religion in Foundation. What is the difference in these views on the same subject? Where do these differences arise? If you want more information before answering, be sure to check out our "Religion" section.
  4. Does following the philosophy of science and reason ever backfire on a character? If so, who and why? If not, why do you think this is?

Chew on This

Science and reason may solve Foundation's problems, but they're also what presented those problems in the first place (by which we mean Seldon's Plan).

Ponyets is the only protagonist who doesn't use the philosophy of science and reason to guide him through his dilemma.