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Alexandre Koyré: History and Actuality

  • Marlon Salomon
Chapter

Abstract

When it comes to highlighting Koyré’s contribution to the methodology of the history of sciences, analysts have frequently insisted on presenting him as an author who innovatively strove to study antiquated scientific theories in the setting of their own time. That new attitude toward the past should not, however, obscure the role that the actuality [actualité] or modernity of science performed in the elaboration of a new conception of history. My hypothesis is that the elaboration of this new conception of history did not stem from any methodical distinction between past and present, but, quite the contrary, from a new way of articulating the actual and the no-longer actual. The theoretical and methodological novelty of his conception of history was intrinsically connected to the actuality of science. Thus, Koyré’s perspective was inserted in the debates then promoted by historians and philosophers about the intricate links between present and past. In 1946 he stated that “the reality of time” could only be revealed through transformations and, at the same time, that there was only past from the stance of a present. Therefore, an epistemological transformation in the present called for a new history of sciences. As early as 1935, Koyré had declared that the history he was writing was inextricably connected to the epistemological transformations then in course. A revolution in the history of the scientific thought, such as the one being seen in the interwar period, not only marked a deviation in the course of science but also made it possible to think about its path from a new perspective. From Einstein’s finite (though unlimited) world, it was possible to think from a different perspective the infinite universe of the moderns and the ancient-medieval closed cosmos.

Keywords

Historiography of sciences The actual and the non-actual in history Methodology of history of sciences History and contemporary time 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of HistoryFederal University of GoiásGOBrazil

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