From Myth to Modern Mind. A Study of the Origins and Growth of Scientific Thought, Volume I: Theogony through Ptolemy., American University Studies, Series 5: Philosophy, vol. 170.From Myth to Modern Mind. A Study of the Origins and Growth of Scientific Thought, Volume II: Copernicus through Quantum Mechanics [Book Review]

Review of Metaphysics 52 (2):481-481 (1998)


Ever since Auguste Comte articulated his Law of the Three Stages, positivism has maintained a stranglehold on the history and philosophy of science. Despite significant repudiations of this view, there remains a tendency to consider earlier science as an essentially more primitive form of human cognition. Thomas Kuhn’s warnings against this tendency, while widely accepted, have not always been heeded in particular studies. Part of the reason for this might be some dissatisfaction with Kuhn’s account of scientific paradigms in light of what many historians still want to accept as evidence of the cumulative growth of scientific knowledge. Whatever the reason, there still from time to time appear studies which attempt to chronicle the development of science in terms of a developmental anthropology of mental levels. This is often done without a sufficiently critical assessment of the philosophical presuppositions which underlie such an analysis. Further, such analyses ignore the possibility that differing scientific conceptions might result more from differing, but equally sophisticated, ontologies rather than from a transition from a primitive mentality to a more scientific mentality.

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Michael W. Tkacz
Gonzaga University

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