Karl Popper always claimed himself to be a realist. However, his constant denial to give definitions to the philosophical concepts, makes it difficult to understand what exactly he means by realism. This article focuses the attention on three meanings of Popper's realism: a metaphysical, an epistemological and a sensible realism. The later sense can be rooted in the new studies on the ethical roots of all Popper's philosophy.
This is an introduction to the thematic section on “The Historiography of Science and Religion in Europe,” which resulted from a symposium held at the eighth Conference of the European Society for the History of Science, University College London, UK, from September 14–17, 2018. The introduction provides a brief argument for the decentering of science and religion from the Anglo‐American discourse. It concludes by previewing the contributions of the section's essays.
Edmund T. Whittaker’s second edition of his A History of the Theories of Aether and Electricity is famous for his treatment of Einstein as an almost irrelevant character in the emergence of what he called “the relativity theory of Poincaré and Lorentz.” Historians of science have given a number of explanations, which include Whittaker’s scientific conservatism as an old classical physicist, his commitment to the ether, the pre-eminent role he attributed to mathematics over physics, and foundational philosophical disagreements, to name (...) a few. And in the background, often more implicit than forthright, the accusation of antisemitism looms over Whittaker. In this paper I intend to shed new light on this controversy by taking into consideration the abundant correspondence between Whittaker and his son preserved in the archives of the Fisher Library, University of Toronto. With it, we will get a more complex and personal view of the context in which his attempt at dethroning Einstein took place. Together with the abovementioned reasons, this correspondence shows that the problematic status quo of general relativity in the early 1950s, a period that has been described as the low-mark of general relativity, was very influential in the historical treatment he gave to Einstein. This is an aspect hardly mentioned in the historical work on this controversy and, from this correspondence, it appears to be central to understanding Whittaker at the time of drafting the new History. His possible antisemitic bias will also be addressed, though with the insufficient information on this subject the matter cannot be settled. (shrink)