Agnostic Motives in fin-de-siècle Italy
Essays on the Ignorabimus controversy stirred up by Emil du Bois-Reymond and the debate on the limits of knowledge in philosophy and the sciences: physics, measurement theory, biology, physiology, morals, epistemology.
The nineteenth-century scientific research programme on sensation (Physiologie der Sinnesorgane) is problematic from both the epistemological and the methodological point of view. To prove this thesis I analyse, firstly, the difficulties involved in the theories of “specific sense energies” which were developed over the second half of the nineteenth century. Secondly, I reconstruct the epistemological consequences of the notion of sense energy within the debate on the limits of knowledge that was ignited by Emil du Bois-Reymond’s 1872 talk. As a result, I show that the idea of objectivity in science needs to be historically reconceived and that the methods and results of scientific investigation cannot be ignored in philosophical investigation.