From Curiosity to Passion

Loschmidt’s Route from Philosophy to Natural Science
  • Peter M. Schuster


“If two simple entities strike each other at a certain speed, how strong is the self-preservation in each of them at a particular moment, and how far are they together?”1


Grammar School Real Body Internal Construction Simple Entity Spiritual Freedom 
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References and Notes

  1. 1.
    Letter of Loschmidt to Franz Exner, No.5 (4.3.1844?). In: P. Schuster, K. Kadletz, Sechs Briefe Josef Losch-midts an Franz Seraphin Exner (1840–1845), ÖGW Mitteillungen 14, 181 (1994); re-issue with annotations in preparation: P. Schuster, Josef Loschmidt (1821–1895), Leben und Werk.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    E. Geguzin, Der Tropfen, Leipzig 1978, p.36.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Cf. P. Schuster, Der dritte Traum des Joseph Loschmidt, Falter, Nr.3, January 1990, p. 8-11; and P. Schuster, C6H6, Verschwiegen, verkauft und vergessen, Joseph Loschmidt, der “österreichische Einstein.” Die Presse, 14./15. April 1990, p.V-VI.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Freiherr v.Helfert, Aufzeichnungen und Erinnerungen aus jungen Jahren, IV. Olmütz und Kremsier, Wien 1905, pp.179, 181.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    E. Winter (Ed.), Der Briefwechsel B. Bolzano’s mit F. Exner, Prag 1935, p.VII.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    To underline the significance of this “circle,” I would like to mention that on 20 May 1846, Doppler gave the lecture “On the possibility of determining the number and the absolute distance of atomic bodies, as well as the measure of their mutual attractive powers, starting with various simple solid bodies.” Introducing this paper, Doppler observed: “Without a satisfactory answer to this question, a clear and comprehensive insight into the internal construction of organic and inorganic bodies, into the true structural and crystallographic relationships, into the extremely curious and characteristic chemical laws, in particular into those connected to the constant stoichiometric relations and much else besides, is impossible. With the present scientific interests, however, an answer to this question can hardly be put off any longer, if a fruitful step forward in the theory of physics is to be made.” Doppler further observed that the aversion to discussing precisely this question had no other basis “than the disastrous, fully unjustified transfer of the concept of the infinite, resulting from a purely psychological process, into real existing objects of the physical world.” Cf. P. Schuster, Christian Doppler (1803–1853), Wien 1992, vol.2, pp.25-26, 135-151.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    F.W. Busch, H.-D. Raapke (Ed.), Johann Friedrich Herbart, Leben und Werk in den Widersprüchen seiner Zeit, Neun Analysen, Oldenburg 1976, p.5.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    W. Asmus, Johann Friedrich Herbart, Eine pädagogische Biographie, vol II., Der Lehrer 1809–1841, Heidelberg 1970, p. 182.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    E. Winter, B. Bolzano und sein Kreis, NÖB—Neue Österreichische Biographie, NDB — Neue Deutsche Biographie, Leipzig 1933.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    From a confidential letter of Franz Exner to his friend Maria von Rosthorn, dated 10 September 1837, reproduced in Ref.5, p.X.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    See Ref.8, p.189.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    J.F. Herbart, Psychologie als Wissenschaft, Königsberg 1824-25, Vol.1, §5, p. 18.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    From Mach’s notebook 20, reproduced in: R. Haller, F. Stadler (Ed.), Ernst Mach — Werk und Wirkung, Wien 1988, p. 175.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    See Ref.8, p.191.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Ibid., p.195.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    F. Exner, Zur Erinnerung an Josef Loschmidt, Die Naturwissenschaften 9, 178 (1921).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Letter of Loschmidt to F. Exner, see Ref. 1, p. 181.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Ibid., p. 188.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Ibid., p. 182.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Ibid., p. 183.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Ibid., p. 185.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Ibid., p. 189.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Ibid., p. 187.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    J.F. Herbart, Allgemeine Metaphysik nebst den Anfangen der philosophischen Naturlehre, 2nd Ed., Königsberg 1829, Ch.5, § 267, p.271.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Ref.l, p.186.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Ibid., p. 190.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    See Ref. 16.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    See Ref. 8, p.351.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    See Ref. 13. Mach still wrote in 1863, in “Vorträge über Psychophysik”: “It is said, ideas, internal states, are not measurable quantities; but what cannot be measured cannot provide a basis for calculations. This objection is wrong.... Some forms of laws, such as s = g.t2/2, can be deduced under certain conditions without measurement, without knowing how big g is, without having measured it” (in: Österreichische Zeitschrift für praktische Heilkunde 9, (1863)).Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    See Ref. 24, p.499.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    W.Böhm, Loschmidts Philosophie, unpublished. I would like to thank Prof.Dr.Walter Böhm for kindly allowing me to to read his extensive notes on J.F. Herbart and J. Loschmidt.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    See Ref. 24, p.277.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Ibid., p.280.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    See Ref.31. Cf. J.F. Herbart, Kurze Enzyklopädie der Philosophie aus praktischen Gesichtspunkten, 2nd Ed., Halle 1841, p.206: “One element (orbital) combines with two other elements (orbitals). Then three different elements combine with each other. The interpenetration in the pairs cannot be identical; a configuration must develop which depends on the contradicting qualities in the pairs. Here, the way to explain crystals opens up.”.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    J. Loschmidt, Die Weltanschaung der modernen Naturwissenschaft (Two lectures held on 9 and 16 December 1867), Schriften des Vereins zur Verbreitung naturwissenschafticher Kenntnisse, Wien, 8, 46 (1869).Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Ibid., p.55.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Ibid., p.49.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter M. Schuster
    • 1
  1. 1.PöllaubergAustria

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