Koyré Versus Olschki–Zilsel

  • Diederick Raven


In 1939 Koyré introduced the notion of the scientific revolution (SR) as a catch phrase that deals with the “[…] profonde transformation intellectuelle dont la physique modern […]” (Koyré 1939, p. 12; 1943b, p. 400) that he alleged happened at the time of Galileo. For Koyré these changes are due to “pure unadulterated thought” because, as expressed in his 1943 critique of the Olschki–Zilsel position, science “is made not by engineers or craftsmen, but by men who seldom built or made anything more real than theory” (Koyré 1943b, p. 401). We now know Galileo did quite a lot of experimentation; hence, this statement by Koyré is no longer acceptable. In this paper, I will assess the Koyré argument against the Olschki–Zilsel position. Central to my argument is that only by applying a comparative framework, such as developed in my forthcoming book The European Roots of Science, it is possible to throw light on this vexed issue.


Koyré Olschki Zilsel Scientific revolution Comparative epistemology Comparative history of science 


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Utrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands

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