Introduction

Chapter
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science book series (BSPS, volume 331)

Abstract

In asking what it means to be an empiricist, the present volume does not seek to provide a definitive or authoritative introduction to the foundation and establishment of empiricism. Instead, our objectives are to deconstruct some misleading preconceptions and to propose some new perspectives on this much used but still somehow ambiguous concept. It marks the beginning of a new reflection rather than a conclusion.

Throughout this volume, we aim to present empiricism as the result of two parallel dialogues. First, it was born out of an exchange between several distinct observational and experimental traditions in Europe. We therefore advocate speaking in the plural about empirical methods, underlining the distinctions between local uses and grand, national standards, while also highlighting the complex discussion around the values and norms of empiricism.

Secondly, it emerged as part of a dialog between several positions within the theory of knowledge which for too long have been reduced to a simple dualism. The most important lesson to be learned from the eighteenth century is that there wasn’t such a thing as a war between rationalism and empiricism, but rather a constant attempt to accommodate both. This forces us to conceive of a more complex and fruitful relationship, but also a much more interesting one.

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of HistoryUniversity of ZurichZürichSwitzerland
  2. 2.History and Philosophy of ScienceLille University/Marie Curie Individual FellowshipVrije Universiteit BrusselBrusselBelgium

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