Philosophical Background

Joseph Agassi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This is a description of the background to classical physics, not a history of physics or of methodology. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, researchers misinterpreted the history of the philosophy and of the science of their own time, and they misled later historians of science: later historians viewed these interpretations as first-hand evidence. Consequently, the largely unsatisfactory picture of classical science is almost unanimously received (Agassi 2008, 166). The misleading texts were always detached from their authors’ social background. Consequently, questions regarding the social background of science remained unasked. In the twentieth century the sociology of science became popular for reasons that had to do with contemporary science. This led historians of science to study the social background of science. The sociology of the rise of modern science remained hardly studied. Some Marxist scholars touched upon this matter, but their intent was only to reveal the socio-economic background to it, and from a Marxist viewpoint. Gideon Freudenthal and Peter McLaughlin have called this “the Hessen-Grossman-Thesis” (Freudenthal and McLaughlin 2009, 1). Thus, the famous Marxist crystallographer-turned-philosopher J. D. Bernal took for granted that mediaeval science was superior to ancient science (Agassi 2008, 222–3); this renders the renaissance ideology incomprehensible.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBoston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages7
StatePublished - 2013

Publication series

NameBoston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science
ISSN (Print)0068-0346
ISSN (Electronic)2214-7942


  • Central Force
  • Classical Science
  • Metaphysical View
  • Observation Sentence
  • Social Background


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