The Scientist's Atom and the Philosopher's Stone: How Science Succeeded and Philosophy Failed to Gain Knowledge of Atoms

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Springer Science & Business Media, 4. jún. 2009 - 287 síđur

Drawing on the results of his own scholarly research as well as that of others the author offers, for the first time, a comprehensive and documented history of theories of the atom from Democritus to the twentieth century. This is not history for its own sake. By critically reflecting on the various versions of atomic theories of the past the author is able to grapple with the question of what sets scientific knowledge apart from other kinds of knowledge, philosophical knowledge in particular. He thereby engages historically with issues concerning the nature and status of scientific knowledge that were dealt with in a more abstract way in his What Is This Thing Called Science?, a book that has been a standard text in philosophy of science for three decades and which is available in nineteen languages. Speculations about the fundamental structure of matter from Democritus to the seventeenth-century mechanical philosophers and beyond are construed as categorically distinct from atomic theories amenable to experimental investigation and support and as contributing little to the latter from a historical point of view. The thesis will provoke historians and philosophers of science alike and will require a revision of a range of standard views in the history of science and philosophy. The book is key reading for students and scholars in History and Philosophy of Science and will be instructive for and provide a challenge to philosophers, historians and scientists more generally.

 

Efni

Science or Philosophy?
1
Democritean Atomism
19
How does Epicuruss Garden Grow? 43
42
Atomism in its Ancient Greek Perspective
59
From the Ancient Greeks to the Dawn of Science
75
The Work
97
Newtons Atomism and its Fate
123
Daltons Atomism and its Creative Modification via Chemical
172
The Old Story
199
Thermodynamics and the Kinetic Theory
215
Experimental Contact with Molecules 233
232
Experimental Contact with Electrons
247
Atomism Vindicated?
261
References
269
Author Index
277
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