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Pierre Duhem's contemporary value


jaimeshu
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After reading about Pierre Duhem, I am concerned about the validity of his theories on what concerns contemporary philosophy of science.

I am mainly interested in the relation between Duhem's deep religious beliefs, and their influence in his "weltanshlauung" (his cosmological vision), as related to Science, projected to today's world.

What I have seen in some web sites is to that his particular philosophy is nowadays used by devout Catholics to give to the Scientific oriented community a balanced perspective.

I would like to discuss this matter with other people that are also intrigued by this fact.

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After reading about Pierre Duhem, I am concerned about the validity of his theories on what concerns contemporary philosophy of science.

I am mainly interested in the relation between Duhem's deep religious beliefs, and their influence in his "weltanshlauung" (his cosmological vision), as related to Science, projected to today's world.

What I have seen in some web sites is to that his particular philosophy is nowadays used by devout Catholics to give to the Scientific oriented community a balanced perspective.

I would like to discuss this matter with other people that are also intrigued by this fact.

Welcome to the forum jaimeshu!

I have to say that I haven't read that book nor I know that theory. Maybe if you post some links of the websites you talk about, I read into it and then tell you what I think,because the topic science/religion is very interesting.

 

I also have to add that this sectionof the forum caled philosophy of science is quite new, so you there is not yet much people who write here, but if you're patient enough...

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I am sorry if my point was not stated clearly enough.

I happen to agree he tried to reconcile Science with Christianity, describing both as planes that don't intersect.

What I meant is that, for example, Creacionists use Duhem ideas, and some of his disciples, such as Jaki, in their opposition to Evolutionists. What I would like to discuss is to what extent other Duhem readers, with other views, feel his ideas are in that way distorted, and given a meaning that was not intended.

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could you in someway provide us a clue to this guy Duhem and his ideas and the controversies surrounding it? I read that he is more of a physicist than a biologist, and there was no hint of him partaking in evolution debates. His philosophy is more towards the history of science.

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I am quoting a review of a book about Duhem, that in a way summarizes his views:

Dr Martin's study of Pierre Duhem's work refutes many prevailing legends about Duhem. His book pays particular attention to the political and intellectual context of French Catholicism, wracked as it was by the tensions of the Dreyfus affair and the so-called modernist crisis. Duhem took his inspiration, not from the Papally-sponsored revival of the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas, but from Pascal, a fact that aroused suspicions of skepticism in the minds of conservatively-minded Catholics. The tensions between Duhem's work and authoritarian Catholic positions became more explicit at his historical work unfolded. Duhem has often been interpreted as a mere instrumentalist or conventionalist, denying the meaningfulness of a reality behind the theory. Dr Martin shows that Duhem was a Pascalian, arguing that both logic and intuition were indispensible in approaching the truth. Duhem argued that physics could not legitimately be used to attack Christianity, but he held that physics was equally useless for the defense of Christianity, a position which made him unpopular with many Catholics. Duhem is now well-known for his historical work refuting the myth that there was no medieval science. Duhem showed that figures like Leonardo and Galileo were not isolated; far from being the founders of a new science, they were continuing a tradition of scientific work that had been developing for centuries. It has been surmised that Duhem was predisposed to rehabilitate medieval science for apologetic motives. Martin shows that Duhem's discovery of medieval science can be dated to within a month, and came as a complete suprise to him, changing the whole course of his work, and introducing an abrupt discontinuity between his earlier and his later preoccupations. Furthermore, Duhem's findings in medieval intellectual history have proved indigestible ever since, to believers and unbelievers alike.

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