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Mach’s Criticism, or a Discourse on the Method

  • Elena D’AmoreEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Vienna Circle Institute Yearbook book series (VCIY, volume 22)

Abstract

In this paper, I take Mach’s work to be the result of a radical critique of the foundations and forms of knowledge, as well as, as a toolkit for present day basic research. My focus will not be the direct contribution of Mach’s work to any particular disciplinary research, but rather the indirect benefit and significance for science of two unfaltering attitudes that he was able to jointly apply throughout his life. These are, according to Einstein, an “incorruptible skepticism” and the passionate confidence that any prospect was attainable for experimental scientific research. I will elucidate the features of Mach’s criticism with an emphasis on its relationship to Kant’s philosophy and to Hume’s one, focusing on the idea that the only possible foundational discourse is the one on the method.

References

  1. Albert Einstein, “E. Mach”, in: Physikalische Zeitschrift 17, 1916, pp. 101–104 (re-edited as “Autobiographical Note”, in: Paul A. Schlipp, Albert Einstein: philosopher-scientist, Evanston: The Library of Living Philosophers 1949).Google Scholar
  2. Aldo G. Gargani, “La buona austricità di Ernst Mach”, in: Ernst Mach, Conoscenza ed errore: Abbozzi per una psicologia della ricerca. Torino: G. Einaudi 1982.Google Scholar
  3. David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1896Google Scholar
  4. Ernst Mach, 1872, History and root of the principle of conservation of energy, Chicago: Open court 1911.Google Scholar
  5. Ernst Mach, 1883, The science of mechanics: a critical and historical account of its development, La Salle:Open court 1960.Google Scholar
  6. Ernst Mach, 1906, Knowledge and error. Sketches on the psychology of Enquiry, Dordrecht: Reidel 1976.Google Scholar
  7. Ernst Mach, 1910 “The guiding principles of my scientific theory of knowledge and its reception by my contemporaries”, in: S. Toulmin ed., Physical Reality, New York: Harper 1970.Google Scholar
  8. Immanuel Kant, Prolegomena to any future metaphysics: that will be able to come forward as science. Cambridge: Cambridge university press 1997.Google Scholar
  9. Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason. Cambridge: Cambridge University press 1998. Ernst Mach, 1868, “On the definition of mass”, in: History and root of the principle of conservation of energy. Chicago: Open court 1911.Google Scholar
  10. Philipp Frank, “The Importance of Ernst Mach’s Philosophy for Our Times” (1917). In Cohen & Seeger (ed.), Ernst Mach: Physicist and philosopher. Dordrecht: D. Reidel 1970, pp. 219–234.Google Scholar
  11. Robert S. Cohen, “Ernst Mach: physics, perception and the philosophy of science”, in Cohen & Seeger (ed.), Ernst Mach: Physicist and philosopher. Dordrecht: D. Reidel 1970, pp. 126–164.Google Scholar

Ernst Mach’s Contributions

  1. 1868 – “On the definition of mass”, in: History and root of the principle of conservation of energy, Chicago: Open court 1911.Google Scholar
  2. 1872 – History and root of the principle of conservation of energy, Chicago: Open court 1911.Google Scholar
  3. 1883 – The science of mechanics: a critical and historical account of its development, La Salle: Open court 1960. Google Scholar
  4. 1906 – Knowledge and error. Sketches on the psychology of Enquiry, Dordrecht: Reidel 1976.Google Scholar
  5. 1910 – “The guiding principles of my scientific theory of knowledge and its reception by my contemporaries”, in: S. Toulmin ed., Physical Reality, New York: Harper 1970.Google Scholar

Original Titles

  1. Über die Definition der Masse.Google Scholar
  2. Die Geschichte und die Würzel des Satzes von der Erhaltung der Arbeit.Google Scholar
  3. Die Mechanik in ihrer Entwicklung historisch-kritisch dargestellt.Google Scholar
  4. Erkenntnis und Irrtum. Skizzen zur eine Psychologie der Forschung.Google Scholar
  5. Die Leitgedanken meiner naturwissenschaftlichen Erkenntnislehre und ihre Aufnahme durch die Zeitgenossen.Google Scholar

Further Sources

  1. Immanuel Kant, Prolegomena to any future metaphysics: that will be able to come forward as science. Cambridge: Cambridge university press 1997.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason. Cambridge: Cambridge University press 1998.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Albert Einstein, “E. Mach”, in: Physikalische Zeitschrift 17, 1916, pp. 101–104 (re-edited as “Autobiographical Note”, in: Paul A. Schlipp, Albert Einstein: philosopher-scientist, Evanston: The Library of Living Philosophers 1949).Google Scholar
  4. David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1896Google Scholar

Critical Literature

  1. Robert S. Cohen, “Ernst Mach: physics, perception and the philosophy of science”, in Cohen & Seeger (ed.), Ernst Mach: Physicist and philosopher. Dordrecht: D. Reidel 1970, pp. 126–164.Google Scholar
  2. Philipp Frank, “The Importance of Ernst Mach's Philosophy for Our Times” (1917). In Cohen & Seeger (ed.), Ernst Mach: Physicist and philosopher. Dordrecht: D. Reidel 1970, pp. 219–234.Google Scholar
  3. Aldo G. Gargani, “La buona austricità di Ernst Mach”, in: Ernst Mach, Conoscenza ed errore: Abbozzi per una psicologia della ricerca. Torino: G. Einaudi 1982.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Università di PisaTrentoItaly

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