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Philosophy | Understanding Nature - Case Studies in Comparative Epistemology

Understanding Nature

Case Studies in Comparative Epistemology

Zwart, Hub

2008, VIII, 286 p.

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  • Offers a highly original contribution to science and literature studies and the philosophy of science
  • Brings together fields of inquiry that tend to be seen as completely separate from one another
  • Explains how both scientific and literary disciplines make valid contributions to our understanding of nature
  • Compares the work of great scientists to great literary authors

Comparative epistemology is the discipline that tries to assess, in a critical manner, the relative validity and value of various forms of knowledge. We tend to identify "real" knowledge of nature with science. Yet, science is not the only route to understanding and unlocking the truth about nature. Literature based on careful, true-to-life observations can also tell us much about nature as well.

This volume presents a series of case studies in comparative epistemology, critically comparing the works of prominent representatives of the life sciences, such as Aristotle, Darwin, and Mendel, with the writings of literary masters, such as Andersen, Melville, Verne, and Ibsen. The author shows how both scientific and literary disciplines make valid contributions to our understanding of nature.

The comparative analysis deftly weaves together fields of inquiry that tend to be seen as completely separate from one another. It constitutes a major contribution to the expanding field of science and literature studies, demonstrating how the sciences and the humanities can mutually challenge and enlighten one another.

Content Level » Research

Keywords » Charles Darwin - Comparative epistemology - History of the Life Sciences - Natur - Phenomenology - Philosophy of the Life Sciences - Science and literature studies - epistemology - knowledge - reason - science - technology

Related subjects » Epistemology & Philosophy of Science - History of Science - Philosophical Traditions - Philosophy

Table of contents 

Comparative Epistemology.- Antecedents: Comparative Epistemology as an Outcome.- Animal Epistemology.- What is an Animal? A Comparative Epistemology of Animals.- What is a Whale? Moby-Dick, Marine Science and the Sublime.- What is a Dog? Animal Experiments and Animal Novels.- The Birth of a Research Animal.- Plants, Landscapes and Environments.- Aquaphobia, Tulipmania, Biophilia: A Moral Geography of the Dutch Landscape.- Taming Microbes: Ibsen's Dr. Stockmann as a Contemporary of Pasteur and Koch.- Pea Stories. Why was Mendel's Research Ignored in 1866 and Rediscovered in 1900?.- Jules Verne's Oeuvre: A Literary Encyclopaedia of Science and Technology.- Conclusion.- Epistemological Exercises: Towards a Typology of Knowledge Forms.

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