In Chris Smith Harry Whitaker (ed.), Brain, Mind and Consciousness in the History of Neuroscience. Springer. pp. 163-184 (2014)

Gabriel Finkelstein
University of Colorado at Denver
The late 19th-century Ignorabimus controversy over the limits of scientific knowledge has often been characterized as proclaiming the end of intellectual progress, and by implication, as plunging Germany into a crisis of pessimism from which Liberalism never recovered. My research supports the opposite interpretation. The initiator of the Ignorabimus controversy, Emil du Bois-Reymond, was a physiologist who worked his whole life against the forces of obscurantism, whether they came from the Catholic and Conservative Right or the scientistic and millenarian Left. Du Bois-Reymond’s doubt that scientists would ever elucidate consciousness must therefore be seen as an endorsement, and not a rejection, of his faith in reason.
Keywords Philosophy of Mind  Ignorabimus  Limits of Knowledge  Epistemologies of Ignorance  German History  Philosophy of Neuroscience
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