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The Way From Nature To God

The theological foundations of H. C. Ørsted's philosophy of nature
  • Andrew D. Wilson
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Part of the Boston Studies In The Philosophy Of Science book series (BSPS, volume 241)

For well over a century, scholars have traced the source of Hans Christian Ørsted’s metaphysics of nature to Immanuel Kant’s dynamical theory of matter and Friedrich Schelling’s romantic Naturphilosophie, both of which he first encountered as a student at the University of Copenhagen during the second half of the 1790s. Without question, Ørsted eagerly espoused the general tenets of Kant’s and Schelling’s force-based metaphysics; and, as is well known, Schelling’s Naturmetaphysik was one of the key inspirations behind Ørsted’s discovery of electromagnetism in 1820. To date, however, no one has attempted to explain in any detail why Ørsted so readily embraced an antiatomistic, dynamical physics and metaphysics of nature at a time when the majority of natural scientists were soundly opposed to such an understanding of the physical world (except in the sense that Kantianism was “in the air” in Denmark during the 1790s).

Keywords

Natural Theology Balloon Flight Divine Revelation Natural Religion General Tenet 
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References

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    For an early instance of recognizing the influence of Schelling on Ørsted’s thought see O. Waage, J. P. Mynster og de Philosophiske Bevaegelser paa hans Tid i Danmark (Kbn: C. A. Reitzel, 1867). “…Ørsteds Anskuelse har udviklet sig under Paavirkning af den schellingske Naturphilosophie”, p. 162.Google Scholar
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    On the concept of Urkraft in Ørsted’s thought see my introductory essay in Selected Scientific Works of Hans Christian Ørsted, translated and edited by Karen Jelved, Andrew D. Jackson, and Ole Knudsen, with an introduction by Andrew D. Wilson (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998), pp. xxxvii–xl.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Springer 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew D. Wilson
    • 1
  1. 1.Keene State CollegeUSA

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