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The Philosophy of Romanticism vs. Science

David Harriman

Presented at: SRB 2002 Palo Alto

Date: Aug 10, 2002

The Enlightenment was followed by an outburst of hostility toward reason and science. In philosophy, this temper tantrum has a name: romanticism. The leaders of the movement advocated the primacy of feelings over reason and sense perception, the rejection of logical analysis as anti-life, and the view that nature is an incomprehensible war of conflicting opposites. 

With Kant's Critiques providing the fertilizer, romanticism took root mainly in Germany. In this lecture, Mr. Harriman shows that the impact on German science—from physics to chemistry to biology—was widespread and devastating in the early 19th century. This material is from Chapter 6 of Mr. Harriman's forthcoming book, The Anti-Copernican Revolution.


Parts: 1

Handout: none