How the mind-world problem shaped the history of science: a historiographical analysis of Edwin Arthur Burtt's The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Physical Science part II

Chatzigeorgiou, K. (2020) How the mind-world problem shaped the history of science: a historiographical analysis of Edwin Arthur Burtt's The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Physical Science part II. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A, 83, pp. 133-143. (doi: 10.1016/j.shpsa.2020.05.003)

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Abstract

This manuscript, divided into two parts, provides a contextual and historiographical analysis of Edwin Arthur Burtt's classic The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Physical Science. My discussion corroborates the sparse technical literature on Burtt (Moriarty 1994; Villemaire, 2002), positioning his work in the aftermath of American idealism and the rise of realist, pragmatist and naturalist alternatives. However, I depart from the existing interpretations both in content and focus. Disagreeing with Moriarty, I maintain that Burtt's Metaphysical Foundations is not an idealist work. Moreover, I provide an alternative to Villemaire's mainly Deweyite/pragmatist reading, emphasizing the import of new realism and naturalism. Burtt's historical thesis should not be viewed as outlining a systematic philosophical position, but rather as a (coherent) culmination of numerous philosophical problematics. To support my conclusion, I provide a substantial summary of Burtt's text alongside a contextual analysis of the philosophical issues that preoccupied his teachers and peers in Columbia's philosophy department. I conclude with a historiographical section, rendering explicit the connections between Burtt's understanding of the scientific revolution, and his distinctive early 20th century American intellectual context.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Chatzigeorgiou, Mr Konstantinos
Authors: Chatzigeorgiou, K.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Humanities
Journal Name:Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0039-3681
ISSN (Online):1879-2510
Published Online:28 May 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 Elsevier Ltd.
First Published:First published in Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 83:133-143
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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