Historical and transcendental factors in the construction of the sciences

Poznan Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities 96 (1):33-47 (2008)
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The hermeneutic context of scientific activity requires that scientific discovery be attributed not only to historical factors but also to transcendental factors (in the sense exemplified by Kant and Husserl, but without their respective idealism). Together these factors can account for a scientific discovery. This is manifest in the invention of Relativity by Einstein. Thomas Kuhn considered the first factors and neglected the seconds. As a consequence the "paradigms" are, for him, incommensurable. But this negligence is the effect of a "positivism of mentalities" which replaced in Kuhn the positivism of facts. This residual positivism is not alleviated by the relativist theses that the last Kuhn borrowed from his colleague, the philosopher Quine. In the line of this positivism and relativism, the successors of Kuhn and Quine are obliged to under-estimate the value of scientific knowledge.



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