The scientific research program in József Eötvös’s Dominant Ideas Cover Image

Eötvös József Uralkodó eszméinek tudományos kutatási programja
The scientific research program in József Eötvös’s Dominant Ideas

Author(s): Gábor Gángó
Subject(s): History
Published by: AETAS Könyv- és Lapkiadó Egyesület

Summary/Abstract: The paper proposes a close reading of József Eötvös’s Influence of the Dominant Ideas and Their Impact on the State (1851–1854) from the special point of view of the philosophy of science. The author argues that the main concern of Eötvös with his two-volume work on political philosophy was not only to find a new political equilibrium after the upheaval of 1848–1849 in France as well as in Central Europe, but he also felt the need to perform that social get-out across the renewal of mid-19th-century political science by a return to Francis Bacon and his rigorous inductive method of scientific investigation. While analyzing Eötvös’s approaches to European history, however, it became clear that his way of reasoning on the basis of induction was filled up with analogic and rhetoric arguments as well. In the second part of the paper, the author focuses on Eötvös’s confrontation with the traditional conflicts in scientific debates of his age between the expansion of knowledge and the maintenance of truth in scientific explanation, between ruling trends and covering laws in history, and between understanding and the prediction about the social vocation of science. Third, Eötvös’s attachment to the Newtonian world concept is presented in a detailed manner. For him, the physical explanation of universal gravitation was not only a vocabulary of metaphors adapted for historical narrative, but also a method of understanding and managing social conflicts. In another unit, the author revisits the problem of Eötvös’ polemic, negative or hostile attitude toward philosophy. He argues that Eötvös’s refutation does not concern philosophy as an overall pattern of understanding, but his usage of the term “philosophy” should be situated in the context of the discussions in Restoration France about an extreme rationalism of French philosophy which led to Robespierre’s Jacobinism. Gábor Gángó concludes that József Eötvös’ main work on political philosophy can be regarded as an example of degenerating research programs in the sense of the term Imre Lakatos gave to it: besides his empirical investigations on politics and history, the author of the Dominant Ideas tried repeatedly to find his position in relation to contemporary research traditions in Europe.

  • Issue Year: 2005
  • Issue No: 3
  • Page Range: 87-122
  • Page Count: 32
  • Language: Hungarian