Abstract

The distinction between science and philosophy plays a central role in methodological, programmatic and institutional debates. Discussions of disciplinary identities typically focus on boundaries or else on genealogies, yielding models of demarcation and models of dynamics. Considerations of a discipline's self-image, often based on history, often plays an important role in the values, projects and practices of its members. Recent focus on the dynamics of scientific change supplements Kuhnian neat model with a role for philosophy and yields a model of the evolution of philosophy of science. This view illuminates important aspects of science and itself contributes to philosophy of science. This interactive model is general yet based on exclusive attention to physics. In this paper and two sequels, I focus on the human sciences and argue that their role in the history of philosophy of science is just as important and it also involves a close involvement of the history of philosophy. The focus is on Gestalt psychology and it points to some lessons for philosophy of science. But, unlike the discussion of natural sciences, the discussion here brings out more complication than explication, and skews certain kinds of generalizations.

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Author notes

Jordi Cat is associate professor of History and Philosophy of Science at Indiana University. He has been associated with other universities in different capacities (Harvard University, London School of Economics, Oxford University, and the University of Chicago) and has been a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. He has coauthored with Nancy Cartwright, Carola Fleck and Thomas Uebel Otto Neurath: Philosophy Between Science and Politics (Cambridge University Press 1996). His main areas of interest and research are philosophy of science, history of philosophy of science and history of science. He is currently completing a book on a topic in each of those areas: Land, Lines, Colours and Toys: Concrete and Constructive Resources in James Clerk Maxwell's Natural Philosophy (forthcoming from Oxford University Press), Physics Beyond Laws and Theories: The Limits of Unity, Universality and Precision (forthcoming from Johns Hopkins University Press) and From the Human Sciences to Philosophy of Science.