Thursday Sep 23rd, 6 PM, Fine Arts 015
What I call the dynamics of reason is an essentially historical response to the challenge to the rationality and objectivity of science arising in the wake of Thomas Kuhn's theory of scientific revolutions. I concentrate on developments in the mathematical exact sciences from Newton to Einstein together with parallel developments in scientific philosophy from Kant to logical empiricism, and I aim to show that Kant's original conception of scientific objectivity and rationality can be relativized and historicized in such a way that a trans-historical version of such objectivity and rationality is nonetheless preserved. I now want to look in more detail at historical developments leading up to the Kantian synthesis so as to bring both theological issues (culminating in Newton's metaphysics of space and Kant's reaction to it) and cultural and institutional events involving the Church's very complex relationship to the new astronomy) into my historical narrative. Far from compromising the “purely intellectual” integrity of the scientific and philosophical developments taking place in this wider context, my expanded narrative rather underscores the central cultural importance of precisely these developments.