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Ludwig BoltzmannThe Man Who Trusted Atoms$
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Carlo Cercignani

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780198570646

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198570646.001.0001

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Boltzmann as a philosopher

Boltzmann as a philosopher

(p.170) 10 Boltzmann as a philosopher
Ludwig Boltzmann


Oxford University Press

In the last few years of his life, Ludwig Boltzmann devoted a significant part of his time to the philosophical aspects of science and, more generally, of knowledge. Professional philosophers may find Boltzmann's ideas somewhat naive, but this is not the case. It is true that Boltzmann is a realist, but not a naive realist. Boltzmann's vision of the world is the picture that every physicist has in mind when investigating his problems, even when he does not admit it. In addition, Boltzmann originated ideas about scientific revolutions, later spread by and attributed to Thomas Samuel Kuhn. According to Boltzmann, the central point of philosophy is the problem of the relationship between existence and knowledge, gnoseology (a term usually rendered as epistemology in the English translation). This chapter looks at Boltzmann's views on philosophy, including subjects ranging from ethics and aesthetics to religion and scientific revolutions, and whether he abandoned realism.

Keywords:   knowledge, philosophy, realism, scientific revolutions, gnoseology, aesthetics

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