Skip to main content

Metaphysics and the Unity of Science: Two Hundred Years of Controversy

Part of the Vienna Circle Institute Yearbook book series (VCIY,volume 20)

Abstract

Carnap’s rejection of metaphysics and his embrace of the unity of science are closely intertwined. Carnap is clear about his specific target in metaphysics and about why he rejects it. Surprisingly, on his mature position he does not show us that we cannot be realists, or nominalists, or idealists, etc., but rather how we can. Carnap directs his remarks on the unity of science toward a specific family of claims, prominent in the early twentieth century, namely that the natural sciences are to be sharply divided from the human sciences. Windelband wrote a famous and influential paper that defends such a division. A close look at this paper shows how Carnap’s position presents the two-kind-of-science view with a dilemma: Either the attempt to divide the sciences in that particular way fails, or the division crosses the boundary into metaphysics.

Keywords

  • Natural Science
  • Human Science
  • Empirical Science
  • Special Sort
  • German Idealist

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

Chapter
USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-53258-5_1
  • Chapter length: 13 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
eBook
USD   84.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-3-319-53258-5
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book
USD   109.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book
USD   109.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)

Notes

  1. 1.

    This, of course is the Principle of Tolerance, first stated as such in (Carnap 1934/1937, 51).

  2. 2.

    That Carnap rejected some of the ideas of these three does not preclude his having been influenced by them on other matters. Thomas Mormann has argued that Rickert influenced especially Carnap’s early philosophy (Mormann 2006 and see also Gabriel 2007) And Christian Damböck has been showing the influence of Dilthey (Damböck 2012) .

  3. 3.

    This is not the case for Rickert . See (Rickert 1896-1902/1986 and 1899/1962).

  4. 4.

    In this Windelband obviously differs from the discussion above in which philosophy was taken as a paradigm case of the human sciences. And not everyone in his tradition followed Windelband in this.

  5. 5.

    For Dilthey , psychology falls within the human sciences.

  6. 6.

    Carnap responds by noting in the Aufbau (Carnap 1928a/1967, 23–24) that the logic of relations developed by Whitehead and Russell is ideally suited to satisfy such a need. Cassirer makes a similar point against Rickert (Cassirer 1929/1957, 348).

  7. 7.

    Dilthey makes a similar suggestion. Perhaps it is more than a suggestion. He notes that individual minds are enormously complex, and this complexity is compounded when we move to the level of minds interacting in a society. But, he says, we have a way of cutting through that complexity and apprehending, apparently directly, truths at the social level:

    The difficulties in knowing a single psychical entity are multiplied by the great varieties and uniqueness of these entities, by the way they work together in a society, by the complexity of natural conditions which bind them together, and by the sum total of mutual influences brought to bear in the succession of many generations which does not allow us to declare directly from human nature as we know it the state of affairs of earlier times or to infer present states of affairs from a general type of human nature. Nevertheless, all this is more than outweighed by the fact that I myself, who inwardly experience and know myself, am a member of this social body and that the other members are like me in kind and therefore likewise comprehensible to me in their inner being. (1883/1988, 98)

Bibliography

  • Anderson, R. Lanier. 2012. The Debate Over the Geisteswissenschaften in German Philosophy. In The Cambridge History of Philosophy 1870–1945, ed. Thomas Baldwin. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Berlin, Isaiah. 1996. The Sense of Reality: Studies in Ideas and Their History, ed. Henry Hardy. London: Chatto & Windus.

    Google Scholar 

  • ———. 1998. The Roots of Romanticism, ed. Henry Hardy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • ———. 2000. Three Critics of the Enlightenment: Vico, Hamman, Herder, ed. Henry Hardy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Carnap, Rudolf. 1928a/1967. The Logical Construction of the World. Trans. Rolf A. George. Berkeley: University of California Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • ———. 1928b/1967. Pseudoproblems in Philosophy. Trans. Rolf A. George. Berkeley: University of California Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • ———. 1932a/1959. The Elimination of Metaphysics Through the Logical Analysis of Language. Trans. Arthur Pap. In Logical Positivism, ed. A.J. Ayer, 60–81. New York: Free Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • ———. 1932b/1963. The Physical Language as the Universal Language of Science. Trans. Max Black (revised). In Readings in Twentieth-Century Philosophy, ed. William Alston and George Nakhnikian, 393–424. New York: Free Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • ———. 1932c/1959. Psychology in Physical Language. Trans. George Schick. In Logical Positivism, ed. A.J. Ayer, 165–198. New York: Free Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • ———. 1934/1937. The Logical Syntax of Language. Trans. Amethe Smeaton. London: Kegan Paul Trench, Trubner & Co.

    Google Scholar 

  • ———. 1938. Logical Foundation of the Unity of Science. In Encyclopedia and Unified Science, ed. Otto Neurath, et al. International Encyclopedia of Unified Science 1(1): 42–62. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • ———. 1963. Intellectual Autobiography. In The Philosophy of Rudolf Carnap, ed. Paul Arthur Schilpp. LaSalle: Open Court Publications.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cassirer, Ernst. 1910/1923. Substance and Function. Trans. William Swabey and Marie Swabey. Chicago: Open Court Publishing Co.

    Google Scholar 

  • ———. 1929/1957. The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms, Vol. 3, The Phenomenology of Knowledge. Trans. Ralph Manheim. New Haven: Yale University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Creath, Richard. 1996, The Unity of Science: Carnap, Neurath, and Beyond. In (Galison and Stump 1996), 158–69.

    Google Scholar 

  • ———. 2010. The Role of History in Science. Journal of the History of Biology 43: 207–214.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Damböck, Christian. 2012. Rudolf Carnap and Wilhelm Dilthey: ‘German’ Empiricism in the Aufbau. In Rudolf Carnap and the Legacy of Logical Empiricism, ed. Richard Creath. Dordrecht: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dilthey, Wilhelm. 1883/1988. Introduction to the Human Sciences: An Attempt to Lay a Foundation for the Study of Science and History. Trans. Ramon J. Betanzos. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Friedman, Michael. 1987. Carnap’s Aufbau Reconsidered. Nous 21: 521–545.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Gabriel, Gottfried. 2007. Carnap and Frege. In Cambridge Companion to Carnap, ed. Michael Friedman and Richard Creath, 65–80. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Gallison, Peter, and David Stump. 1996. The Disunity of Science: Boundaries, Contexts, and Power. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hempel, Carl G. 1942. The Function of General Laws in History. Journal of Philosophy 39: 35–48.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Lilla, Mark. 1993. G. B. Vico: The Making of an Anti-modern. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mormann, Thomas. 2006. Werte bei Carnap. Zeitschrift für.

    Google Scholar 

  • Naess, Arne. 1965/1968. Four Modern Philosophers: Carnap, Wittgenstgein, Heidegger, Sartre. Trans. Alistair Hannay. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Quine, W.V.O. 1951. Two Dogmas of Empiricism. Philosophical Review 60: 20–43.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • ———. 1971. Epistemology Naturalized. Akten des XIV. Internationalen Kongresses für Philosophie, 6:87–103.

    Google Scholar 

  • Richardson, Alan. 1998. Carnap’s construction of the World: The Aufbau and the Emergence of Logical Empiricism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rickert, Heinrich. 1896–1902/1986. The Limits of Concept Formation in Natural Science: A Logical Introduction to the Historical Sciences (abridged ed.). Trans. and Ed. Guy Oakes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • ———. 1899/1962. Science and History: A Critique of Positivist Epistemology. Trans. George Reisman. Princeton: D. Van Nostrand Co.

    Google Scholar 

  • Suppes, Patrick. 1978. The Plurality of Sciences. PSA 1978, Vol 2, ed. Peter Asquith and Ian Hacking. E. Lansing: Philosophy of Science Association.

    Google Scholar 

  • Windelband, Wilhelm. 1894/1980. History and Natural Science. Trans. Guy Oakes. History and Theory 19: 169–185.

    Google Scholar 

  • ———. 1893/1901/1958. A History of Philosophy, Vol. II: Renaissance, Enlightenment, and Modern. Trans. and Rev. ed. James H. Tufts. New York: Harper & Row.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Richard Creath .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2017 Springer International Publishing AG

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Creath, R. (2017). Metaphysics and the Unity of Science: Two Hundred Years of Controversy. In: Stadler, F. (eds) Integrated History and Philosophy of Science. Vienna Circle Institute Yearbook, vol 20. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-53258-5_1

Download citation