Science and Culture: Popular and Philosophical Essays

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University of Chicago Press, Oct 15, 1995 - Science - 418 pages
Hermann von Helmholtz was a leading figure of nineteenth-century European intellectual life, remarkable even among the many scientists of the period for the range and depth of his interests. A pioneer of physiology and physics, he was also deeply concerned with the implications of science for philosophy and culture.

From the 1850s to the 1890s, Helmholtz delivered more than two dozen popular lectures, seeking to educate the public and to enlighten the leaders of European society and governments about the potential benefits of science and technology to a developing modern society. David Cahan has selected fifteen of these lectures, which reflect the wide range of topics of crucial importance to Helmholtz and his audiences. Among the subjects discussed are the origins of the planetary system, the relation of natural science to science in general, the aims and progress of the physical sciences, the problems of perception, and academic freedom in German universities. This collection also includes Helmholtz's fascinating lectures on the relation of optics to painting and the physiological causes of harmony in music, which provide insight into the relations between science and aesthetics.

Science and Culture makes available again Helmholtz's eloquent arguments on the usefulness, benefits, and, intellectual pleasures of understanding the natural world. With Cahan's Introduction to set these essays in their broader context, this collection makes an important contribution to the philosophical and intellectual history of Europe at a time when science played an increasingly significant role in social, economic, and cultural life.
 

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Contents

On Goethes Scientific Researches 1853
1
On the Interaction of the Natural Forces 1854
18
On the Physiological Causes of Harmony in Music 1857
46
On the Relation of Natural Science to Science in General 1862
76
On the Conservation of Force 186263
96
The Recent Progress of the Theory of Vision 1868
127
On the Aim and Progress of Physical Science 1869
204
On the Origin and Significance of Geometrical Axioms 1870
226
On the Relation of Optics to Painting 1871
279
On Thought in Medicine 1877
309
On Academic Freedom in German Universities 1877
328
The Facts in Perception 1878
342
Hermann von Helmholtz An Autobiographical Sketch 1891
381
Goethes Presentiments of Coming Scientific Ideas 1892
393
Index
413
Copyright

On the Origin of the Planetary System 1871
249

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About the author (1995)

David Cahan is the Charles Bessey Professor of History at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is the author of An Institute for an Empire: The Physikalisch-Technische Reichsanstalt 1871-1918 and coauthor of Science at the American Frontier: A Biography of DeWitt Bristol Brace. He is the editor of Hermann von Helmholtz and the Foundations of Nineteenth-Century Science and Helmholtz's Science and Culture: Popular and Philosophical Essays.

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