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Readings in the History and Philosophy of Science

February 22 @ 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm

We began to discuss representation on the 8th by comparing the descriptivism of Ernst Mach and the Bildtheorie of Heinrich Hertz. In the next two sessions we’ve going continue this discussion. On the 22nd we will look specifically the philosophy embodied in Hertz’s physics by comparing it with Wittgenstein’s theory of language in his Tractatus. There’s a healthy secondary literature on Hertz and Wittgenstein, but not as much on Boltzmann and Wittgenstein, even though young Wittgenstein wanted to study under Boltzmann (Boltzmann committed suicide the year Wittgenstein started college). The ideas of Hertz continued to inform Wittgenstein’s work, and at Cambridge the later Wittgenstein handed out copies of Hertz’s Introduction in ‘Principles of mechanics’ as a good example of the way to do philosophy. We’re going to read Hertz’s Introduction and match it up with Wittgenstein’s ideas on language in his Tractatus. Later in a subsequent session we will look more closely at Ernst Mach.

Primary reading materials are the Introduction in Hertz’s ‘Principles of mechanics’, https://ia800204.us.archive.org/17/items/principlesofmech00hertuoft/principlesofmech00hertuoft.pdf ,Wittgenstein’s ‘Tractatus logico-philosophicus’, https://people.umass.edu/klement/tlp/tlp.pdf . A handout will be put together before the meeting of relevant passages and Wittgenstein’s Tractatus. About a dozen secondary source articles are available on request. If this subject is fascinating to you, send a note to kachelme@gmail.com and request more info or sources.

About ‘Readings in the history and philosophy of science’:

From its inception this group was organized to provide a science friendly philosophy group. We hope to leave every meeting with a better understanding of some of those perennial issues regarding knowledge and science which continue to engage active discussion – problems such as the problem of induction, usefulness of philosophy and metaphysics, reconciling the old and new, and the relationship of language to doing. We explore science from its origins to modern developments, as voiced not only in the writings of those who have philosophized about science, but also in the voice of the scientists themselves. We explore history of scientific ideas, connections between these ideas, and streams of scientific thinking. The readings and discussions steer deep into empiricism, rationalism, and realism, as well as into the nature of objectivity, role of language and logic, and, not least, how we collectively come to agreement on what is true.

If you are not on the mailing list, you can get on the mailing list, receive copies of the handouts or old handouts, by sending a note to kachelme@gmail.com .


February 22
5:30 pm - 7:30 pm
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