Philosophers of Science and their Contributions

In the ancient time, nearly every notable scientist was at the same time a great philosopher and every philosopher was to some extent a scientist. Through their works and activities, the philosophers provided useful concept and insights to science. The philosophers whose work or ideas boosted up scientific activities are:

Anaximander: Anaximander who lived between 611 and 546BC was a natural scientific philosopher. He was an astronomer, map inventor and the initiator of measuring day by hour. It was him who discovered that the earth is spherical and not flat.

Rene Descartees: Rene was a French philosopher and scientist who discovered things in mathematics and practices the experimental method. He equally developed basic philosophical notions, which were consonant with the new approach of natural sciences. For instances, Descartes distinguished between two main kinds of substances, namely: mind and matter.

For him, matter is extended, and one of the characteristics of extended matter is that it can be measured and scientific observation concerns mainly measurable things. What is measured that be compared, related to things, with the help of mathematical formulae or through logical relations.

All of this is typical of modern science. It can therefore be said that Descartes philosophical endeavour provided a number of fundamental concepts which could go together with the recent developments of science.

Immanuel Kant: Kant was a German philosopher, whose critical philosophy brought a new understanding of the relation between the mind and its object. Kant wanted to justify the findings of science (e.g. the universal and necessary laws of physics) against the attack of David Humes Empiricism.

He concluded that the mind is shaping or molding its known object by means of some structure (or categories) of understanding, which are applied to sense data. Kant’s critical approach is used up to this day in some scientific circles to explain the theoretical part of their work.

David Humes: Hume was both a philosopher and a scientist. He proposed philosophical reflections which greatly influenced the general understanding of scientific activity. Hume claimed that our knowledge of things can be based only on sense-data, that is, whatever we come to know through the activity of our senses.

Humes sees causality as the constant conjunction between two sense impressions. For him nothing in our sense experience indicates a necessary connection between a cause and its effect.

Francis Bacon: Francis Bacon was an English philosopher who described the method and purpose of scientific knowledge. He was the originator and founder of inductive method. He emphasized the role of scientific discoveries and inventions in giving man mastery or control over the forces of nature.

Galileo Galilei: Galileo was an Italian and one of the founders of the concepts of a mathematical universe. Galileo invented a telescope with which he discovered a large number of fixed stars that were not yet known at the time.

Albert Einstein: He was a theoretical physicist. His many contributions to physics include the special and general theories of relativity, the founding of relativistic cosmology, the first-Newtonian expansion, the quantum theory of atomic motion in solids and the zero-point energy concept.

He published more than 300 scientific and over 150 non-scientific works and is often regarded as the father of modern physics.

Moritz Schlick: Schlock was a German philosopher and the founding father of logical positivism and the Vienna Circle. He studied physics at Heidelberg, Lausanne and ultimately the University of Berlin under Max Planck.

Schlick was attracted and consequently concerned himself with the problems of epistemology, the philosophy of science and more general questions about science. His success led to his becoming a professor in the philosophy of inductive sciences at the University of Vienna.

Schlick’s enduring contribution to the world of philosophy is as the fount of logical positivism. His humanity, good will, gentleness and especially his encouragement have been documented by many of his peers.

Alfred North Whitehead: Whitehead was an English mathematician who became a philosopher. He wrote on algebra, logic, and foundations of mathematics, philosophy of sciences, physics, metaphysics and education. His childhood was described as over protected, but when at school he excelled in sports, mathematics and was head prefect of his class.

Whitehead developed a keen interest in physics. His outlook on mathematics and physics was more concerned about their scope and nature rather than about particular tenets and paradigms.

Paul Karl Feyerabend: Feyerabend was an Austrian-born philosopher of science best known for his work as a professor of philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, where he worked for three decades (1958-1989).

His mayor works include Against Method published in 1975, Science in a Free Society published in 1978 and Farewell to Reason (a collection of papers published in 1987). Fayerabend became famous for his purportedly anarchistic view of science and his rejection of the existence of universal methodological rules. He is an influential figure in the philosophy of science and also in the sociology of scientific knowledge.

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