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Epistemological Turn in European Scientific Rationality

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Epistemological Turn in European Scientific Rationality

ABSTRACT: If the 17th century could be considered the century of the reformation of science, the present century is one of counterreformation in every sense of the word. The ideology of this century can be seen in the titanic efforts to complete the development of science which foundation was laid in the 17th and 18th centuries, in the outright failures, and in attempts at reconstructing the foundation (e.g., Hilbert's formalization program, Gödel's incompleteness theorem, Charlier's theory of a hierarchic universe, Fridman's evolutionary cosmology, Newton's mechanics, relativistic and/or quantum mechanics in physics, the logical turn of the Vienna circle and epistemological anarchism in methodology). Our task is to reveal the essence of the turning points in 20th century science and to determine at least the general outlines, if not the cause, of the new type of rationality that is replacing the old one. I will focus on the history of cosmology, or rather on its three paradigms that have succeeded each other in this century: Newtonian, Fridmanian and the inflationary paradigms. By outlining the problem, I will pose a possible solution from clarifying changes in the value orientations, ideals and norms of scientific research to their possible generalization.

If the 17th century could be considered the century of the reformation of science, the present century is one of counterreformation in every sense of the word. Ever since the turn of the century, the same ideology has been in existence: titanic efforts to complete the development of the science whose foundation was laid in the 17th and 18th centuries and outright failures followed by the reconstruction of the foundation. There are many exemples, some of them very striking: Hilbert's formalisation program and Godel's incompleteness theorem in mathematics, Charlier's theory of a hierarchic universe and Fridman's theory of the evolutionary universe in cosmology, Newton's mechanics and relativistic and quantum mechanics in physics, and finally, the logical program of the Vienna circle and epistemological anarchism in methodology.

Our task is to reveal the essence of the turning points in 20th centuries science history and to try to determine at least the general outlines, if not the cause, of the new type of rationality that is succeeding (or has already succeeded) the old one. Needless to say, we are obviously unable to embrace all branches of knowledge ; therefore, we will confine ourselves to the history of cosmology, or rather to its three paradigms that successively prevailed in this century : Newtonian, Fridman's and inflationary.
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