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Rationalism in Modern Science: D’Alembert and the Esprit Simpliste

  • Graham Solomon
Chapter
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Part of the The Western Ontario Series in Philosophy of Science book series (WONS, volume 65)

Abstract

In the comparison of methods reputed to yield reliable knowledge, it is fashionable to point out that scientific method is the only universally acceptable method of getting knowledge, because scientific claims can always be confronted with the “facts, ” can be checked against “experience. ” Every schoolboy knows this is true because he has been taught it many times. It is likely too that he will never forget the other part of the lesson: knowledge gained from experience yields the power to transform the world. As the mountain of technologically engineered objects grows higher and higher the evidence is incontrovertible that science, by sticking to the facts of experience, “produces the goods. ” And ever since the genuinely remarkable John Dewey fused the Puritan notion of “work-to-beat-hell ” with the value hierarchy associated with Yankee ingenuity, we in this country have been content “to buy ” (note the pragmatic ring of the phrase) the method which produces the goods. In addition to this widespread contemporary stress on engineering in science, there are prominent philosophies of science that overemphasize the empirical, the inductive, and the pragmatic sides of science.2

Keywords

Scientific Method Modern Science Metaphysical System Prominent Philosophy Cartesian Method 
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.

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References

  1. 2.
    See, for example, the logical empiricism of Carnap, Reichenbach and Bergmann; the varieties of pragmatism and operationalism; and the doctrines of Ayer’s positivism, of the American naturalisms that operate under the influence of nineteenth-century British Utilitarianism, and of the Vienna Circle.Google Scholar
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    See also E. A. Burtt, The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science (New York, 1954); A. N. Whitehead, Science and the Modern World (New York, 1949); and Adventures of Ideas (New York, 1955); Philipp Frank, Philosophy of Science (Englewood Cliffs, N. J., 1957), chs. 1, 2, 13, 15; and George de Santillana, “Aspects of Scientific Rationalism in the Nineteenth Century, ” in International Encyclopedia of Unifiied Science, Vol. II, No. 8 (Chicago, 1950).Google Scholar
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    Quoted in Joseph Bertrand, D’Alembert (Paris, 1889), p. 32.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Graham Solomon
    • 1
  1. 1.Wilfrid Laurier UniversityWaterlooCanada

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