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Weimar ThoughtA Contested Legacy$
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Peter E. Gordon and John P. McCormick

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691135106

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691135106.001.0001

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Method, Moment, and Crisis in Weimar Science

Method, Moment, and Crisis in Weimar Science

(p.179) 9 Method, Moment, and Crisis in Weimar Science
Weimar Thought

Cathryn Carson

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines how a self-consciously “Weimar science” came together, meaning how the Weimar moment was experienced and theorized by intellectuals preoccupied with science. It surveys developments across the wide terrain of the natural sciences, from physics (Planck, Einstein, Bohr, Heisenberg, Schrödinger) to biology (Plessner, Driesch, von Uexküll) to the philosophy of mathematics and scientific method (Reichenbach, Cassirer, Carnap). The chapter starts with an introduction to the natural scientific enterprise as it was pursued in the Wilhelmine and Weimar eras. Against this backdrop, it highlights several developments in the life sciences, mathematics, and physics that attracted critical notice. Showing how disputes over these matters intersected, even lapped over the borders of professional science, it shows how they resonated with contemporary philosophical contention. To close, it picks out two responses that shared a desire to stake a claim on a scientific present: calls associated with logical empiricist philosophy to create a unified worldview based on science; and attempts by intellectual historians, philosophers, and some scientists to understand science itself as irreducibly situated in historical time.

Keywords:   Weimar science, Weimar Republic, Planck, Einstein, Bohr, Heisenberg, Schrödinger, Plessner, Driesch, von Uexküll

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