Bernard Bolzano: Theory of Science

Bernard Bolzano: Theory of Science

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This is the first complete English translation of Bernard Bolzano's four-volume Wissenschaftslehre or Theory of Science, a masterwork of theoretical philosophy. Bolzano (1781-1848), one of the greatest philosophers of the nineteenth century, was a man of many parts. Best known in his own time as a teacher and public intellectual, he was also a mathematician and logician of rare ability, the peer of other pioneers of modern mathematical logic such as
Boole, Frege, and Peirce. As Professor of Religion at the Charles University in Prague from 1805, he proved to be a courageous and determined critic of abuses in church and state, a powerful advocate for reform. Dismissed by the Emperor in 1819 for political reasons, he left public life and spent the next decade
working on his "theory of science," which he also called logic. The resulting Wissenschaftslehre, first published in 1837, is a monumental, wholly original study in logic, epistemology, heuristics, and scientific methodology. Unlike most logical studies of the period, it is not concerned with the "psychological self-consciousness of the thinking mind." Instead, it develops logic as the science of "propositions in themselves" and their parts, especially the relations between these
entities. It offers, for the first time in the history of logic, a viable definition of consequence (or deducibility), and a novel view of probability. Giving constant attention to Bolzano's predecessors and contemporaries, with particular emphasis on Kant, this richly documented work is also a valuable source for
the history of logic and philosophy. Each volume of the edition is accompanied by a detailed introduction, which alerts the reader to the historical context of Bolzano's work and illuminates its continued relevance.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 2044 pages
  • 163 x 240 x 132mm | 3,622g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0199684383
  • 9780199684380

Table of contents

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Review quote

After 177 years, thanks to Paul Rusnock and Rolf George, we finally have the complete English translation of Bolzano's monumental work Theory of Science, the great unknown classical work in logic and epistemology. The translation is excellent, both in keeping the flavor of nineteenth-century books and in being eminently readable. * Philosophia Mathematica * The four volumes under review here represent a major undertaking of careful translation and critical analysis...Each volume in the Oxford edition of Bolzano's Wissenschaftslehre ends with Bolzano's own subject indexes (revealing those subjects in the treatise he regarded as most important, indexed by section numbers), followed by name indexes and the translators' own subject indexes (reflecting interests of the modern read, and indexed according to volume by
page numbers). ... [H]istorians and philosophers of mathematics, especially those who do not read German, will find this an invaluable resource, in particular for appreciating the ways in which mathematics informed the development of Bolzano's critique of the sciences * Joseph W. Dauben, MathSciNet *
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About Paul Rusnock

Bernard Bolzano (1781-1848) made outstanding contributions to many areas of philosophy as well as to mathematics and theology. In mathematics, he is best known for his work in analysis and the foundations of mathematics, which included rigorous definitions of continuity and convergence as well as the construction of a continuous, nowhere-differentiable function and anticipations of Cantor's set theory. His work in logic, presented in the Theory of Science,
marks a new beginning in the history of the discipline. Among his discoveries, the most noted are his definition of deducibility, which anticipates Tarski's definition of logical consequence, and his notion of logical analyticity, which closely resembles later concepts of logical truth. On account of these
and many other accomplishments, Bolzano is now widely recognised as one of the great philosophers of the nineteenth century.

Rolf George is Professor emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Waterloo, Canada.

Paul Rusnock is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Ottawa, Canada.
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