Despite his well‐known deductivism, in his early (unpublished) writings, Popper held an inductivist position. Up to 1929 epistemology entered Popper's reflections only as far as the problem was that of the justification of the scientific character of these fields of research. However, in that year, while surveying the history of non‐Euclidean geometries, Popper explicitly discussed the cognitive status of geometry without referring to psycho‐pedagogical aspects, thus turning from cognitive psychology to the logic and methodology of science. As a consequence of (...) his reflections on the problematic relationship between geometrical‐mathematical constructions and physical reality Popper was able to get over a too direct notion of such a relationship, cast doubts on inductive inference and started conceiving in a new (strictly non‐inductivist) manner the relationship between theoretical and observational propositions. (shrink)
This book seeks to rectify misrepresentations of Popperian thought with a historical approach to Popper’s philosophy, an approach which applies his own mature view, that we gain knowledge through conjectures and refutations, to his own development, by portraying him in his intellectual growth as just such a series. Gattei seeks to reconstruct the logic of Popper’s development, in order to show how one problem and its tentative solution led to a new problem.
This paper provides the framework for understanding Galileo’s request to the Grand Duke of Tuscany, in 1610, to be appointed in Florence as both Mathematician and Philosopher. By explicitly choosing such a title, he wished to stress the fact that his own work aimed at contributing to the new physical astronomy with which Copernicus inaugurated what is now called the Scientific Revolution. As opposed to Ptolemy, who understood astronomy as a purely mathematical tool in order to “save the phenomena” and (...) allow for accurate predictions, Galileo – very much in line with Copernicus and Kepler, as well as Newton after him – supported the reality of the Copernican system not only against Aristotle and Ptolemy, but also against Tycho Brahe. And, as it turned out after 1616, against the Church itself, which, in full accord with Osiander’s unsigned preface to the De revolutionibus, refused to see in the Copernican theory anything more than a mere working hypothesis to which astronomers were allowed to appeal only for computations. (shrink)
Karl Popper’s description of the open society in terms of respect, rather than mere tolerance, appears to be highly relevant today. Although he never explicitly addressed the issues of multiculturalism and valuepluralism in contemporary societies, Popper’s idea of respect provides an effective way to approach them. For, on the one hand, it may help to reframe current debates about multiculturalism in clearer terms. On the other, it provides a critical assessment of the widespread relativism that presents itself as a sort (...) of panacea of all theoretical and practical problems posed by the cohabitation of groups sharing different values and worldviews. On closer scrutiny, political relativism – just as its epistemological counterpart – is not only entirely inadequate but also dangerous for the very existence of the open society. A serious look at the present situation suggests, rather, the adoption of a principle of reciprocity that is consistent with Popper’s critical pluralism and might prove to be effective in addressing the problems faced by a multicultural society. (shrink)
Some of Kepler's works seem very different in character. His youthful Mysterium cosmographicum (1596) argues for heliocentrism on the basis of metaphysical, astronomical, astrological, numerological and architectonic principles. By contrast, Astronomia nova (1609) is far more tightly argued on the basis of only a few dynamical principles. In the eyes of many, such a contrast embodies a transition from Renaissance to early modern science. I suggest that Karl Popper's fallibilist and piecemeal approach, and especially his theory of errors, might prove (...) extremely helpful in resolving such alleged tension. By abandoning the perspective of the inductivist philosophy of science, which is forced by its own standards to portray Kepler as a "sleepwalker", I focus on the method he followed: he never hesitated to discuss his own intellectual journey, offering a rational reconstruction of the series of false starts, blind alleys and failures he encountered. The critical dialogue he managed to establish in private correspondence with fellow astronomers he later transplanted into his printed works, whose structure closely resembles that of a dialogue, however implicit. (shrink)
This paper presents the first complete edition of Thomas Seget’s album amicorum, held at the Vatican Library (Cod. Vat. Lat. 9385). A friend of Galileo and Kepler, Seget was a background figure who played an important role within the learned world of the late Renaissance. Largely invisible in modern scholarship, figures like Seget played significant functions as cultural intermediaries and international political agents, thus occupying a new and critical position within the learned world of early modern Europe. Seget’s album amicorum (...) offers a unique collection of autograph notes (including Galileo, Sarpi, Lips, Ortels, Pinelli, Welser, De Put, Querenghi, Fabri de Peiresc, Pignoria and Possevino, to mention but a few) which allows us to reconstruct the web of connections Seget managed to weave on his way from Leuven to Padua, as well as during the years he spent in Italy within Pinelli’s circle. Although the album stops at the end of 1600, Seget’s networking activity continued, with ups and downs, throughout his life, and is reconstructed here by way of published and unpublished documents. The paper comprises an Introduction, with a biography of Seget; a Note to the text, providing key elements to understand the role of the album amicorum in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, as well as presenting the criteria of the present edition; a critical edition of Seget’s album; and three appendixes: a chronological table of the entries in the album; the transcription of entries by Seget in some of his friends’ albums; and the transcription of a few hitherto unpublished manuscript documents with information about Seget’s life and whereabouts. (shrink)
This paper discusses a passage from the Second Day of Galileo’s Dialogue in which explicit reference is made to the game of tennis and, more specifically, to spinning balls. This often overlooked passage forms part and parcel of the tightly-knit argumentative structure of the work, and provides key arguments against Aristotelian physics. Furthermore, Galileo’s choice of terms shows how careful he was in his use of analogies as effective tools to reconcile the new physics that he was struggling to introduce, (...) with common sense. Finally, and most interestingly, by comparing this passage with a similar one from Galileo’s unpublished writings, this paper shows the extent to which Galileo was interested in the physics of spinning balls and how he planned to include a discussion of it in a work that he began shortly after the publication of the Sidereus Nuncius, but never managed to finish. (shrink)