Ideals of Scientific Explanation and the Nature of Its Objects

Philosophy 310=Biology 310
Bryn Mawr College
Spring, 2005
29 March

Re-Thinking Philosophy of Science?
I. Darwin (et al) as a starting point

Our conversation so far ...

Philosophy as context dependent, looking at things in a particular conceptual framework ... can it transcend? (short run)

"Philosophy is its own time raised to the level of thought" ... Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, 1821

If earlier abstract thought was interested in the principle only as content, but in the course of philosophical development has been impelled to pay attention to the other side, to the behaviour of the cognitive process, this implies that the subjective act has also been grasped as an essential moment of objective truth, and this brings with it the need to unite the method with the content, the form with the principle. Thus the principle ought also to be the beginning, and what is the first for thought ought also to be the first in the process of thinking ... Hegel, Science of Logic (paragraph 90), 1815

it [this system of logic] is not something distinct from its object and content; for it is the inwardness of the content, the dialectic which it possesses within itself, which is the mainspring of its advance ... Hegel, Science of Logic (paragraph 63), 1815

Thus the dialectical movement of substance through causality and reciprocity is the immediate genesis of the Notion, the exposition of the process of its becoming ... Hegel, Science of Logic (paragraph 1281), 1815

Granted, then, that empty space extends without limit in every direction and that seeds innumerable are rushing on countless courses through an unfathomable universe ... It is in the highest degree unlikely that this earth and sky is the only one to have been created ... Lucretius, c 99-55 BC

According to Timon, Pyrrho declared that things are equally indifferent, unmeasurable and inarbitrable. For this reason neither our sensations nor our opinions tell us truths or falsehoods ... Aristocles, fragment, c 1st century BC-AD

A strategy for transcendence (short term)?

An alternative science/period: Darwin (1860) and following

(see also Adam Smith, 1723-1790, Thomas Malthus, 1766-1834, Charles Lyell, 1797-1875)

Daniel Dennett, Darwin's Dangerous Idea, Chapters 1-3

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