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Chemistry in the Philosophical Melting Pot


Danuta Sobczynska, Pawel Zeidler and Ewa Zielonacka-Lis

Chemistry is a natural science which has immensely influenced both the development of technology and of civilization, transforming the world of our everyday life. It is therefore something of a paradox of modern philosophy that it took so long for it to perceive chemistry as an incredibly complex and interesting subject suitable for philosophical discourse. However, from the beginning of the 1990s this discourse has been developing in a most dynamic way creating a veritable melting pot in which various chemical concepts and actions are being blended with philosophical and cultural ideas. The authors of the 22 articles included in the presented volume have taken the opportunity to analyze various components of what may be termed the resulting alloy – the philosophy of chemistry. They discuss in detail the fundamental philosophical, methodological and semiotic aspects characteristic of the theory and laboratory practice of chemistry. They also reveal the alchemical roots of chemistry and its emergence as a modern theoretical and experimental scientific discipline. These issues are examined both from the point of view of professional chemists and from that of the philosophers of science.
Contents: Jaap van Brakel: The Patchworks of Physics and Chemistry: Anomalous Monism and Interdiscourse Relations – Rein Vihalemm: The Problem of the Unity of Science and Chemistry – Hrvoj Vančik: Philosophy of Chemistry and Generalisation of the Concept of Complexity – Johann W. Buchler: Chemistry Seen as Molecular Architecture with a Note on the German Term «Stoff» – Michael Akeroyd: Susan Haack, Fuzzy Logic and the Classification of the Chemical Elements – Claus Jacob: The Use of Philosophy in Chemistry: Logical Aspects of Scientific Arguments in Everyday Research – Roman Mierzecki: The Diffused Meaning of Scientific Terms – Paweł Zeidler: The Semiotic Status of Structural Formulas and the Causal Theory of Reference – Joseph E. Earley, Sr.: On the Relevance of Repetition, Recurrence, and Reiteration – Johannes Hunger: Causal Discovery and the Problem of Automated Generation of Reaction Mechanisms – Sławomir Michalak: The Spark of Thought. On Thermodynamic Aspects of Neurochemical Research – Aldona Krupska: The Role of Autocatalytic Feedback in Chemical and Biochemical Processes – Ko Hojo: Theory, Synthesis, and Aromaticity - Planar or not Planar: [10]Annulene Problem – Ewa Zielonacka-Lis: How Philosophical Models of Explanation Fit Explanations in Modern Chemistry: Concluding Remarks – Valentin Vyazovkin: The Chemical Picture of Nature: Genesis and Evolution – Soledad Esteban: The Evolution of Scientific Ideas: a Way of Learning Chemistry – Vladimir Karpenko: The Chemical Background of Alchemical Recipes - Problems of Analysis – Piotr Warych: Chinese Alchemy. The Roots of Chemistry. Myths and Legends of China – Paul Needham: Generation and Destruction of Chemical Substances: An Exposition of the Aristotelian Conception – Joachim Schummer: Why Do Chemists Perform Experiments? – Danuta Sobczyńska: Research Apparatuses and Global Cognitive Changes in Science on the Example of Chemistry – Krystyna Kabzińska: The Atom in Philosophy, Physics and Chemistry by the End of 19th Century. Maria Skłodowska-Curie’s Work - the Key to Change in the Notion of Paradigm. Experiments, Intuition and Mind.