Hermann von Helmholtz’s Mechanism: The Loss of Certainty: A Study on the Transition from Classical to Modern Philosophy of Nature
Springer Science & Business Media, Dec 11, 2008 - Science - 300 pages
Two seemingly contradictory tendencies have accompanied the development of the natural sciences in the past 150 years. On the one hand, the natural sciences have been instrumental in effecting a thoroughgoing transformation of social structures and have made a permanent impact on the conceptual world of human beings. This historical period has, on the other hand, also brought to light the merely hypothetical validity of scientific knowledge. As late as the middle of the 19th century the truth-pathos in the natural sciences was still unbroken. Yet in the succeeding years these claims to certain knowledge underwent a fundamental crisis. For scientists today, of course, the fact that their knowledge can possess only relative validity is a matter of self-evidence. The present analysis investigates the early phase of this fundamental change in the concept of science through an examination of Hermann von Helmholtz's conception of science and his mechanistic interpretation of nature. Helmholtz (1821-1894) was one of the most important natural scientists in Germany. The development of this thoughts offers an impressive but, until now, relatively little considered report from the field of the experimental sciences chronicling the erosion of certainty.
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assumption atoms axioms Cahan causality causes claim to truth claim to validity classical conception classical mechanism conception of nature conception of science conservation of energy context contrast definition dynamic mechanism early modern electrodynamics elementary elements Engl epistemology equations existence experience experimental explanation explicitly external world fact footnote formal foundation fundamental geometry Helmholtz 1856 ff Helmholtz 1862 Helmholtz 1878a Helmholtz’s conception Helmholtz’s mechanism Hermann von Helmholtz hypothetical idea induction interpretation intuition Kant Kant’s Koenigsberger 1902 f lecture Leibniz mathematical matter meaning mechanistic conception mentioned metaphysical modern conception motion natural law natural phenomena natural research natural science Newton nineteenth century objects philosophy of nature philosophy of science physical physiology principle reality relation relativization Riemann science’s scientific knowledge scientistic Section sensations sense sensory perception space spatial speech statements structure theoretical theory of perception theory of science thermodynamics tion transition Treatise worldview