With over 150 alphabetically arranged entries about key scientists, concepts, discoveries, technological innovations, and learned institutions, the Oxford Guide to Physics and Astronomy traces the history of physics and astronomy from the Renaissance to the present. For students, teachers, historians, scientists, and readers of popular science books such as Galileo's Daughter, this guide deciphers the methods and philosophies of physics and astronomy as well as the historical periods from which they emerged. Meant to serve the lay (...) reader and the professional alike, this book can be turned to for the answer to how scientists learned to measure the speed of light, or consulted for neat, careful summaries of topics as complicated as quantum field theory and as vast as the universe. The entries, each written by a noted scholar and edited by J. L. Heilbron, Professor of History and Vice Chancellor, Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley, reflect the most up-to-date research and discuss the applications of the scientific disciplines to the wider world of religion, law, war, art and literature. No other source on these two branches of science is as informative or as inviting. Thoroughly cross-referenced and accented by dozens of black and white illustrations, the Oxford Guide to Physics and Astronomy is the source to turn to for anyone looking for a quick explanation of alchemy, x-rays and any type of matter or energy in between. (shrink)
We discuss the extent to which the visibility of the heavens was a necessary condition for the development of science, with particular reference to the measurement of time. Our conclusion is that while astronomy had significant importance, the growth of most areas of science was more heavily influenced by the accuracy of scientific instruments, and hence by current technology.
Abstract Centuries of both theologians and astronomers have wondered what the Star of Bethlehem (Matt 2:2, 9) actually was, from miracle to planetary conjunction. Here a history of this search is presented, along with the difficulties the various proposals have had. The natural theories of the Star are found to be a recent innovation, and now almost exclusively maintained by scientists rather than theologians. Current problems with various theories are recognized, as well as general problems with the approach. The (...) interactions between the sciences and religion are categorized and explored. (shrink)
Originally published in 1830, this book can be called the first modern work in the philosophy of science, covering an extraordinary range of philosophical, methodological, and scientific subjects. "Herschel's book . . . brilliantly analyzes both the history and nature of science."--Keith Stewart Thomson, American Scientist.
Drawing on a half century of scholarship, of Polish studies of Copernicus and Cracow University, and of Copernicus's sources, this book offers a comprehensive re-evaluation of Copernicus's achievement, and explains his commitment to the ...
The Companion Encyclopedia is the first comprehensive work to cover all the principal lines and themes of the history and philosophy of mathematics from ancient times up to the twentieth century. In 176 articles contributed by 160 authors of 18 nationalities, the work describes and analyzes the variety of theories, proofs, techniques, and cultural and practical applications of mathematics. The work's aim is to recover our mathematical heritage and show the importance of mathematics today by treating its interactions with (...) the related disciplines of physics, astronomy, engineering and philosophy. It also covers the history of higher education in mathematics and the growth of institutions and organizations connected with the development of the subject. Part 1 deals with mathematics in various ancient and non-Western cultures from antiquity up to medieval and Renaissance times. Part 2 treats developments in all the main areas of mathematics during the medieval and Renaissance periods up to and including the early 17th century. Parts 3-10 are divided into the main branches into which mathematics developed from the early 17th century onwards: calculus and mathematical analysis, logic and foundations, algebras, geometries, mechanics, mathematical physics and engineering, and probability and statistics. Parts 11-13 review the history of mathematics from an international perspective. The teaching of mathematics in higher education is examined in various countries, and mathematics in culture, art and society is covered. The Companion Encyclopedia features annotated bibliographies of both classic and contemporary sources; black and white illustrations, line figures and equations; biographies of major mathematicians and historians and philosophers of mathematics; a chronological table of main events in the developments of mathematics; and a fully integrated index of people, events and topics. (shrink)
(*) Este es el capítulo 16 de su obra monumental titulada Retrying Galileo, 1633-1992, publicado en el 2005 por la University of California Press, Berkeley. Este libro es un examen del affair Galileo desde el momento de la condena del científico toscano por la Inquisición en 1633, hasta su supuesta rehabilitación por el Papa Juan Pablo II en 1992. Su enfoque es en temas tales como: si acaso la condena fue justa, y si probaría la incompatibilidad entre ciencia y religión; (...) pone énfasis en los textos que constituyen las fuentes primarias, y de los cuales emergen los hechos históricos y los distintos temas controversiales. El capítulo 17 del mismo estudio del profesor Finocchiaro, contiene una evaluación precisa, realista y balanceada, de los esfuerzos del Papa Juan Pablo II para poner a la Iglesia al día frente al caso Galileo, conjuntamente con una estimación negativa tanto de la comisión papal encargada de su reexamen, como de su presidente, el Cardenal Paul Pourpard. La traducción es de Hermes H. Benítez, y ha sido expresamente autorizadapor la editorial. (shrink)
An interesting consequence of the modern cosmological paradigm is the spatial infinity of the universe. When coupled with naturalistic understanding of the origin of life and intelligence, which follows the basic tenets of astrobiology, and with some fairly incontroversial assumptions in the theory of observation selection effects, this infinity leads, as Ken Olum has recently shown, to a paradoxical conclusion. Olum's paradox is related, to the famous Fermi's paradox in astrobiology and “SETI” studies. We, hereby, present an evolutionary argument countering (...) the apparent inconsistency, and show how, in the framework of a simplified model, deeper picture of the coupling between histories of intelligent/technological civilizations and astrophysical evolution of the Galaxy, can be achieved. This strategy has consequences of importance for both astrobiological studies and philosophy. (shrink)
Exploring the decisive steps taken by Anaximander of Miletus, this book details the transition from the archaic cosmological world-picture of a flat earth with a celestial vault to the Western world-picture of a free floating earth in an ...
Today we are all familiar with the iconic pictures of the nebulae produced by the Hubble Space Telescope’s digital cameras. But there was a time, before the successful application of photography to the heavens, in which scientists had to rely on handmade drawings of these mysterious phenomena. Observing by Hand sheds entirely new light on the ways in which the production and reception of handdrawn images of the nebulae in the nineteenth century contributed to astronomical observation. Omar W. Nasim investigates (...) hundreds of unpublished observing books and paper records from six nineteenth-century observers of the nebulae: Sir John Herschel; William Parsons, the third Earl of Rosse; William Lassell; Ebenezer Porter Mason; Ernst Wilhelm Leberecht Tempel; and George Phillips Bond. Nasim focuses on the ways in which these observers created and employed their drawings in data-driven procedures, from their choices of artistic materials and techniques to their practices and scientific observation. He examines the ways in which the act of drawing complemented the acts of seeing and knowing, as well as the ways that making pictures was connected to the production of scientific knowledge. An impeccably researched, carefully crafted, and beautifully illustrated piece of historical work, Observing by Hand will delight historians of science, art, and the book, as well as astronomers and philosophers. (shrink)
This paper traces the reception of Babylonian astronomy into the history of science, beginning in early to mid twentieth century when cuneiform astronomical sources became available to the scholarly public. The dominant positivism in philosophy of science of this time influenced criteria employed in defining and demarcating science by historians, resulting in a persistently negative assessment of the nature of knowledge evidenced in cuneiform sources. Ancient Near Eastern astronomy (and astrology) was deemed pre- or non-scientific, and even (...) taken to reflect a stage in the evolution of thought before the emergence of science (in ancient Greece). Two principal objections are examined: first, that the Near East produced merely practical as opposed to theoretical knowledge and, second, that astronomy was in the service of astrology and religion. As the notion of a universal scientific method has been dismantled by post-positivists and constructivists of the second half of the twentieth century, an interest in varieties of intellectual and cultural contexts for science has provided a new ground for the re-consideration of Babylonian astronomical texts as science developed here. (shrink)
Many people argue that history makes a special difference to the subjects of biology and psychology, and that history does not make this special difference to other parts of the world. This paper will show that historical properties make no more or less of a difference to biology or psychology than to chemistry, physics, or other sciences. Although historical properties indeed make a certain kind of difference to biology and psychology, this paper will show that historical properties make (...) the same kind of difference to geology, sociology, astronomy, and other sciences. Similarly, many people argue that nonhistorical properties make a special difference to the nonbiological and the nonpsychological world. This paper will show that nonhistorical properties make the same difference to all things in the world when it comes to their causal behavior and that historical properties make the same difference to all things in the world when it comes to their distributions. Although history is special, it is special in the same way to all parts of the world. (shrink)
I examine the consistency of Kant's notion of moral progress as found in his philosophy of history. To many commentators, Kant's very idea of moral development has seemed inconsistent with basic tenets of his critical philosophy. This idea has seemed incompatible with his claims that the moral law is unconditionally and universally valid, that moral agency is noumenal and atemporal, and that all humans are equally free. Against these charges, I argue not only that Kant's notion of moral development (...) is consistent, but also that the assumption of the possibility of moral progress is indispensible for Kant's moral theory. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to argue that Kant's philosophy of biology has crucial implications for our understanding of his philosophy of history, and that overlooking these implications leads to a fundamental misconstruction of his views. More precisely, I will show that Kant's philosophy of history is modelled on his philosophy of biology due to the fact that the development of the human species shares a number of peculiar features with the functioning of organisms, these features entailing (...) important methodological characteristics. From this main claim will follow three further claims: (1) Kant's teleological view of history is not simply based on ethical considerations that have to do with the moral progress of the human species; rather, it stems from his conception of teleology as developed in his philosophy of biology. (2) Kant's philosophy of history allows for the practice of scientific history. In this sense, Kant's view of history is not merely teleological but involves a mechanical (and thus empirical) element. (3) Just as teleology is useful for furthering mechanical accounts of biological phenomena, teleological history is useful for scientific history. (shrink)
What are the relationships between philosophy and the history of philosophy, the history of science and the philosophy of science? This selection of essays by Lorenz Krüger (1932-1994) presents exemplary studies on the philosophy of John Locke and Immanuel Kant, on the history of physics and on the scope and limitations of scientific explanation, and a realistic understanding of science and truth. In his treatment of leading currents in 20th century philosophy, Krüger presents new and original arguments (...) for a deeper understanding of the continuity and dynamics of the development of scientific theory. These result in significant consequences for the claim of the sciences that they understand reality in a rational manner. The case studies are complemented by fundamental thoughts on the relationship between philosophy, science, and their common history. (shrink)
I show the sense in which the concept of history as a human science affects our theory of the natural sciences and, therefore, our theory of the unity of the physical and human sciences. The argument proceeds by way of reviewing the effect of the Darwinian contribution regarding teleologism and of post-Darwinian paleonanthropology on the transformation of the primate members of Homo sapiens into societies of historied selves. The strategy provides a novel way of recovering the unity of the (...) sciences: by construing the physical sciences themselves as human sciences - and, therefore, as themselves historied. (shrink)
Relying on an analysis of the case of gravitational lensing, Hacking argues for a "modest antirealism" in astronomy. It is shown here that neither his scientific arguments nor his philosophical doctrines imply an antirealist conclusion. An alternative, realistic interpretation of gravitational lensing, and of the nature and history of astronomy more generally, is suggested.
Abstract In this essay I trace the role of history in the philosophy of art from the early twentieth century to the present, beginning with the rejection of history by formalists like Clive Bell. I then attempt to show how the arguments of people like Morris Weitz and Arthur Danto led to a re-appreciation of history by philosophers of art such as Richard Wollheim, Jerrold Levinson, Robert Stecker and others.
To date, no satisfactory account of the connection between natural-scientific and historical explanation has been given, and philosophers seem to have largely given up on the problem. This paper is an attempt to resolve this old issue and to sort out and clarify some areas of historical explanation by developing and applying a method that will be called “pragmatic explication” involving the construction of definitions that are justified on pragmatic grounds. Explanations in general can be divided into “dynamic” and “static” (...) explanations, which are those that essentially require relations across time and those that do not, respectively. The problem of assimilating historical explanations concerns dynamic explanation, so a general analysis of dynamic explanation that captures both the structure of natural-scientific and historical explanation is offered. This is done in three stages: In the first stage, pragmatic explication is introduced and compared to other philosophical methods of explication. In the second stage pragmatic explication is used to tie together a series of definitions that are introduced in order to establish an account of explanation. This involves an investigation of the conditions that play the role in historiography that laws and statistical regularities play in the natural sciences. The essay argues that in the natural sciences, as well as in history, the model of explanation presented represents the aims and overarching structure of actual causal explanations offered in those disciplines. In the third stage the system arrived at in the preceding stage is filled in with conditions available to and relevant for historical inquiry. Further, the nature and treatment of causes in history and everyday life are explored and related to the system being proposed. This in turn makes room for a view connecting aspects of historical explanation and what we generally take to be causal relations. (shrink)
Although first published in 1969, the methodological views advanced in Quentin Skinner's “Meaning and Understanding in the History of Ideas” remain relevant today. In his article Skinner suggests that it would be inappropriate to even attempt to write the history of any idea or concept. In support of this view, Skinner advances two arguments, one derived from the philosophy of the later Wittgenstein and the other from that of J. L. Austin. In this paper I focus on the (...) first of these arguments. I claim that the conclusion which Skinner draws from this particular argument does not necessarily follow and that an alternative assessment of the methodological significance of Wittgenstein's philosophy for historians of ideas is possible. On this alternative view, far from ruling out conceptual history, an appeal to the view of meaning set out in Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations leads to a quite different conclusion, namely that the writing of such a history is arguably a necessary precondition for the elucidation of the meaning of a number of the core concepts in the canon of the history of political thought. Skinner's views have changed somewhat since 1969. Indeed, from the mid 1970s onwards he came to relax the strict opposition to the idea of conceptual history to which he was then committed. The paper concludes by noting that this evolution in Skinner's thinking has made him much more sympathetic than anybody reading “Meaning and Understanding in the History of Ideas” would have imagined to the research project of the Begriffgeschichte School of conceptual history. (shrink)
One of the most influential and significant developments in the philosophy of language over the last thirty years has been the rise of externalist conceptions of content. This essay aims to explore the implications of a form of externalism, largely derived from the work of Donald Davidson, for thinking about history, and in so doing to suggest one way in which contemporary philosophy of language may engage with contemporary philosophy of history. Much of the discussion focuses on the (...) elaboration of the externalism that is at issue, along with the holistic approach to content with which it is connected. It will be argued that such holistic externalism is itself thoroughly in keeping with the very character of historical inquiry itself, and can be seen to provide an underpinning to certain contemporary developments in historical thinking. (shrink)
Philosophers' reflections on history have been dominated for decades by two themes: representation and memory. On both of these accounts, historical inquiry is divided by a certain gap from what it seeks to find or wants to know, and its activity is seen by philosophers as that of bridging this gap. Against this background, the concept of experience, in spite of its apparent rootedness in the present, can be revived as a means of thinking about our connection to the (...) past. After examining variants on the concept of experience, with special attention to its temporality, I argue in this essay that experience can be said to furnish a connection to the past that underlies both memory and representation. (shrink)
Contemporary caution against anachronism in intellectual history, and the currently momentous theoretical emphasis on subjectivity in the philosophy of mind, are two prevailing conditions that set puzzling constraints for studies in the history of philosophical psychology. The former urges against assuming ideas, motives, and concepts that are alien to the historical intellectual setting under study, and combined with the latter suggests caution in relying on our intuitions regarding subjectivity due to the historically contingent characterizations it has attained in (...) contemporary philosophy of mind. In the face of these conditions, our paper raises a question of what we call non-textual (as opposed to contextual) standards of interpretation of historical texts, and proceeds to explore subjectivity as such a standard. Non-textual standards are defined as (heuristic) postulations of features of the world or our experience of it that we must suppose to be immune to historical variation in order to understand a historical text. Although the postulation of such standards is often so obvious that the fact of our doing so is not noticed at all, we argue that the problems in certain special cases, such as that of subjectivity, force us to pay attention to the methodological questions involved. Taking into account both recent methodological discussion and the problems inherent in two de facto denials of the relevance of subjectivity for historical theories, we argue that there are good grounds for the adoption of subjectivity as a non-textual standard for historical work in philosophical psychology. (shrink)
Abstract Contrary to most modern interpretations, in the early modern period, history was an indispensable resource for many philosophers. The different uses of history by Bacon, Gassendi, Locke, and Hume are explored to establish the role of history as a resource in early-modern philosophy.
In this paper I argue that, in at least two cases - his discussions of the temporal precedence o f polytheism over monotheism and of the origins of civil society - we see Hume consigning to historical development certain aspects of reason which, as a comparison with Locke will show, have sometimes been held to be uniform. In the first of these cases Hume has recourse to claims about the general historical development of human thought. In the second case, the (...) origin of the civil institution of justice and government is not linked directly to external circumstances and the principles of human nature, as it is in contractarian theories, but makes a detour through the historical acquisition of certain concepts. Because Hume's position does not conform in any simple sense to Dugald Stewart's 'incontrovertible logical maxim' that the capacities of the human mind have been the same in all ages, Stewart's account of the method of conjectural history is, in any simple sense, inadequate as a description of Hume's practice. (shrink)
Among many important claims, Allen Wood in Kant's Ethical ought proposes that Kant's philosophy of history can be grasped as a "naturalist" approach, grounding human nature in biology. I suggest some reservations. First, I question Kant's conception of biology as (a still emergent) science. Second, I question Kant's extension of his notion of "natural predisposition" to reason and freedom. Third, I question the naturalism of Kant's philosophy of history by suggesting the excessive role providence must play in Kant's (...) account. The upshot is to find Kant's philosophy of history one of the less persuasive elements in his system of thought, despite Wood's energetic effort at a contemporary reconstruction. (shrink)
This article analyzes how the relationship between philosophy and history has been conceived within the study of political thought, and how different ways of conceiving this relationship in turn have affected the definition of the subject matter as well as the choice of methods within this field. My main argument is that the ways in which we conceive this relationship is dependent on the assumptions we make about the ontological status of concepts and their meaning. I start by discussing (...) the widespread view that philosophy and history ought to be viewed as distinct if not incompatible ways of studying political thought, and then go on to describe the view that philosophical and historical approaches should be conceived of as identical or inseparable. I end this article by suggesting that these approaches rather should be viewed as mutually constitutive for the benefit of a more coherent study of political thought. (shrink)