On the cultural relationship between Niels Bohr and Harald HØffding

Nuncius 25 (2):317-356 (2010)

Authors
Roberto Angeloni
Universita di Cagliari
Abstract
It is this paper’s aim to shed some light on the debate about the cultural debt of Niels Bohr towards his mentor and teacher of philosophy, Harald Høffding. The debate began at the end of seventies between two Danish scholars, Jan Faye and David Favrholdt, and in a broader sense it stands for way to show how philosophical influences may shape the scientist’s outlook on the world and consequently the approach to his field of studies. In my view, Edgar Rubin, the famous psychologist and Bohr’s friend, is the key person to reconsider the Bohr-Høffding’s relationship. I shall adopt Gerald Holton’s thematic analysis for enucleating the possible thematic concept that supports the claim of a common line of thought emerging from Høffding, Rubin and Bohr’s conceptions with respect to their own field of study. Such a line of thought, i.e. the concept of unity, moulded Bohr’s view on the world and exerted its heuristic power in the formulation of the first atomic theory.
Keywords Niels Bohr  History of Quantum Physics  First Atomic Theory
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