Nature From Within: Gustav Theodor Fechner And His by Michael Heidelberger

By Michael Heidelberger

Gustav Theodor Fechner (1801-1887) used to be a German physicist, psychologist, and thinker, top identified to historians of technological know-how because the founding father of psychophysics, the experimental examine of the relation among psychological and actual strategies. Michael Heidelberger's exhaustive exploration of Fechner's writings, in terms of present matters within the box, effectively reestablishes Fechner's position within the historical past and philosophy of science.

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That doctrine too k the universe for a clockw ork, ticking away mechanically. Life and consciousness are o f minimal significance. In contrast, philosophy o f nature exchanged “soulless mechanism” for an “ animated organ­ ism,” trying to understand and explain the phenom ena and the progress o f life and consciousness within the context o f the organic world. A n early, radical version o f this kind o f philosophy o f nature was most co n ­ sistently staked out and elaborated by Lorenz Oken (1779-1851).

T he w hole has a real, material side (ether) and an ideal, immaterial side (God). T he ideal side takes the form o f pure oneness, the material side is diverse. 17 Reality is created when G od juxtaposes himself: By postulating itself, the real, or diversity, or the world, comes into being. The creation o f the world is nothing other than an act o f self-consciousness, God him­ self appearing. What we find as thoughts in our consciousness are the individual appearances o f the world in God’s consciousness.

74 Fechner’s second objection follows from that. Herbart’s notion o f being, or substance, is a general metaphysical concept lacking validity for science, unless it applies to everything. ” 75 Fechner derives his third strategy for criticizing Herbart from his training in physics. He confronts Herbart’s use o f concepts with com parable concepts in physics, w hile sim ultaneously reflecting on how to realize Herbart’s hypotheses in terms o f physics. T he mental events that Herbart contrived must also always be physically realized.

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