From Descartes’ Dream to Husserl’s Nightmare

  • Alfred I. Tauber
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 182)


The conjunction of aesthetics and science conjures up a mixed reaction. Their connection dates at least to the Pythagoreans who sought harmony and order in nature as underlying principles of cosmic law. And a wrenching disjunction occurred sometime in the mid-nineteenth century, when in a series of final complex cultural and intellectual blows, the natural philosophers became scientists and the moral-philosophers, humanists. A widening schism over the next century evolved into what C. P. Snow called the Two Cultures (Snow, 1959). To be sure, the respective roots of art and science separated at the beginning of the modern period, but did not clearly diverge until quite recently. The distinctions between scientist and poet was well underway by the Victorian period. We note that in 1839, when Charles Darwin invoked the “philosophical naturalist” (Beagle Journal) or Robert Knox employed the term, “Philosophic anatomy”, such philosophical workers were interested in discovering the laws of nature, not merely in describing nature. In the process they re-defined natural history and established the science of biology (Rehbock, 1983). Hermann Helmholtz initiated and then completed a materialistic and mechanical program to study organic phenomena, by leading the German reductionist revolt in the 1840s that aspired to reduce organic phenomena to the principles of chemistry and physics (Galaty, 1974; Kremer, 1990).


Aesthetic Experience Aesthetic Judgement Organic Phenomenon Aesthetic Evaluation Mathematical Beauty 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alfred I. Tauber
    • 1
  1. 1.Boston UniversityUSA

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