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Institute for Logic, Language and Computation

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29 March 2012, Spinoza lectures, Michael Friedman

Speaker: Michael Friedman
Title: Extending the Dynamics of Reason
Date: Thursday 29 March 2012
Time: 20:15
Location: Oude Lutherse Kerk, Amsterdam

Abstract:
My Dynamics of Reason (2001) responds to Thomas Kuhn’s theory of scientific revolutions by developing a new-Kantian conception of dynamical and historically relative a priori constitutive principles and applies this conception to Kuhn’s central example of the transition from Newtonian physics to Einstein’s theory of relativity. It argues for the trans-historical rationality of this revolutionary scientific change by appealing to the contemporaneous developments in scientific philosophy throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, involving such figures as Hermann von Helmholtz, Ernst Mach, and Henri Poincaré. The First Lecture briefly summarizes this argument and then extends it in two interrelated ways – by, on the one hand, exploring the scientific, philosophical, and theological background to Kant’s original conception of a non-dynamical, timeless conception of the synthetic a priori, and, on the other, relating these developments to the wider cultural context. I thus make a beginning in connecting the purely intellectual historical narrative on which I have concentrated so far with cultural and political history, thus making contact with work in history of science and science studies.

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