PSA 1974 pp 105-123 | Cite as

The erkenntnistheoretikers Dilemma: J. B. Stallo’s Attack on Atomism in His Concepts and Theories of Modern Physics (1881)

  • John V. Strong
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 32)


Notable among the by-products of the late nineteenth-century controversies over the atomic theory of matter was the first full-scale contribution to the philosophy of science written in America,. John Bernard Stallo’s The Concepts and Theories of Modern Physics. The work of a lawyer and jurist largely self-trained in philosophy, its publication in 1881 provoked considerable (and mostly hostile) reaction1, for Stallo attacked atomism and mechanism at a time when scientists were still divided into vociferously opposing camps over the question of whether or not the ultimate structure of matter was atomic - indeed, were in sharp disagreement over even the utility of the hypothetical concept ’atom’ in physics and chemistry.2


Modern Physic Methodological Criterion Atomic Hypothesis Classical Kinetic Theory Primary Constant 
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.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Adams, H.: 1946, The Education of Henry Adams, Modern Library, New York.Google Scholar
  2. Bridgman, P. W.: 1927, The Logic of Modern Physics, Macmillan, New York.Google Scholar
  3. Bridgman, P. W.: 1960, ‘Introduction’, CT, pp. vii–xxix.Google Scholar
  4. Brock, W. H., and D. Knight: 1967, ‘The Atomic Debates’, in W. H. Brock (ed.), The Atomic Debates: Brodie and the Rejection of the Atomic Theory. Three Studies, Leicester University Press, Leicester, pp. 1–30.Google Scholar
  5. Buchdahl, G.: 1959, ‘Sources of Scepticism in Atomic Theory’, Brit. J. Phil. Sci. 10, 120–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cournot, A.-A.: 1861, Traité de l’Enchaînement des Idées Fondamentales dans les Sciences et dans l’Histoire, L. Hachette, Paris, I, p. 103.Google Scholar
  7. Drake, S.: 1959, ‘J. B. Stallo and the Critique of Classical Physics’, in H. M. Evans (ed.), Men and Moments in the History of Science, University of Washington Press, Seattle, pp. 22–37.Google Scholar
  8. Drake, S.: 1967, ‘Stallo, John Bernard’, in P. Edwards (ed.), The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Macmillan and the Free Press, New York, 8, pp. 4–6.Google Scholar
  9. Easton, L.: 1966, Hegel’s First American Followers. The Ohio Hegelians: John B. Stallo, Peter Kaufmann, Moncure Conway, and August Willich, with Key Writings, Ohio University Press, Athens, Ohio.Google Scholar
  10. Kleinpeter, H.: 1901, ‘J. B. Stallo als Erkenntniskritiker’, Vierteljahrsschrift für wiss. Phil. 25, 401–440.Google Scholar
  11. Kleinpeter, H.: 1913, Der Phänomenalismus: Eine naturwissenschaftliche Weltanschauung, J. Barth, Leipzig.Google Scholar
  12. Knight, D. M. (ed.): 1968, Classical Scientific Papers: Chemistry, American Elsevier, New York.Google Scholar
  13. Mach, E.: 1901, ‘Vorwart’ to J. B. Stallo, Die Begriffe und Theorien der modernen Physik, J. Barth, Leipzig, pp. III–XIII.Google Scholar
  14. Maxwell, J. C.: 1965, Scientific Papers, Dover, New York.Google Scholar
  15. Meyerson, É.: 1962, Identity and Reality, Dover, New York. (Original French edition 1907.)Google Scholar
  16. Newton, L: 1952, Opticks, Dover, New York. (Based on the 4th edition, London, 1730.)Google Scholar
  17. Rattermann, H. A.: 1902, Johann Bernhard Stallo, Deutsch-amerikanischer Philosoph, Jurist und Staatsmann, Verlag des Verfassers, Cincinnati, Ohio.Google Scholar
  18. Royce, J.: 1946, ‘Introduction’ (1913) to H. Poincaré, The Foundations of Science, The Science Press, Lancaster, Pa.Google Scholar
  19. Russell, B.: 1956, An Essay on the Foundations of Geometry, Dover, New York. (Original edition 1897).Google Scholar
  20. Tait, P. G.: 1882, ‘Modern Physics’, Nature 26, 521–522.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Thiele, J.: 1969, ‘Karl Pearson, Ernst Mach, J. B. Stallo’, Isis 60, 535–542.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Whewell, W.: 1847, The Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences, 2nd ed., John Parker, London.Google Scholar
  23. Whittaker, E.: 1960, A History of the Theories of Aether and Electricity, Volume Two: The Modern Theories 1900–1926, Harper, New York.Google Scholar
  24. Wilkinson, G. D.: 1951, ‘John B. Stallo’s Criticism of Physical Science’, unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Columbia University, New York.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • John V. Strong
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of History and Philosophy of ScienceUniversity of Pittsburgh and Boston CollegeUSA

Personalised recommendations