In Friedrich Stadler (ed.), Ernst Mach - Life, Work, Influence. Dordrecht, Paesi Bassi: Springer. pp. 525-536 (2019)

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Pietro Gori
Universidade Nova de Lisboa
Abstract
The paper aims to investigate some aspects of Ernst Mach’s epistemology in the light of the problem of human orientation in relation to the world (Weltorientierung), which is a main topic of Western philosophy since Kant. As will be argued, Mach has been concerned with that problem, insofar as he developed an original pragmatist epistemology. In order to support my argument, I firstly investigate whether Mach defended a nominalist or a realist account of knowledge and compare his view to those elaborated by other pragmatist thinkers, such as W. James, H. Vaihinger and H. Poincaré. Secondly, the question of what does it mean, for Mach, to orient ourselves in science is addressed. Finally, it will be argued that, although Mach tried to keep his epistemology restricted to a mere operational and economical account of science, that question involves the wider plane of practical philosophy.
Keywords pragmatism  epistemology  truth  laws of nature  scientific conceptualisation  Ernst Mach  anti-realism  instrumentalism
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