The New Alliance Between Science and Education: Otto Neurath’s Modernity Beyond Descartes’ ‘Adamitic’ Science

Studies in Philosophy and Education 33 (1):41-59 (2013)
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Starting from a suggestion of Stephen Toulmin and through an interpretation of the criticism to which Neurath, one of the founders of the Vienna Circle, submits Descartes’ views on science, the paper attempts to outline a pattern of modernity opposed to the Cartesian one, that has been obtaining over the last four centuries. In particular, it is argued that a new alliance has to be established between science and education, overcoming Descartes’ banishment against education. In a Neurathian perspective education is a key-moment of the scientific enterprise without which science itself is in danger of going astray and no scientific outlook is promoted in the society at large. Such an anti-Cartesian attitude is a leitmotiv of the whole Neurath’s production and characterizes his fundamental approach to the sense of modernity. For this reasons, despite all its shortcomings, Neurath’s proposal represents a very promising option for a new agenda of the modernity away from Descartes’ spell. By elaborating on Neurath’s (and Dewey’s) insights, the paper puts forward the idea that philosophy of science (such as it was originated by neopositivism in its Reichenbachian version) should give way to an educational philosophy of science which could allow us “to bring the genuine modern into existence”



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Stefano Oliverio
University of Naples Federico II

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