Review: Hyder, The Determinate World: Kant and Helmholtz on the Physical Meaning of Geometry [Book Review]
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2010 (7) (2010)
Hyder constructs two historical narratives. First, he gives an account of Helmholtz's relation to Kant, from the famous Raumproblem, which preoccupied philosophers, geometers, and scientists in the mid-19th century, to Helmholtz's arguments in his four papers on geometry from 1868 to 1878 that geometry is, in some sense, an empirical science (chapters 5 and 6). The second theme is the argument for the necessity of central forces to a determinate scientific description of physical reality, an abiding concern of Helmholtz's, and one that, as Hyder shows, has Kantian roots. Helmholtz's commitment to the necessity of central forces was key to his responses to rival views on electromagnetism, and is a deep and often under-appreciated element of his epistemology of science.
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