Mach and Inner Cognitive Africa

Roy A. Sorensen

in Thought Experiments

Published in print February 1999 | ISBN: 9780195129137
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780199786138 | DOI:
 						Mach and Inner Cognitive Africa

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This chapter focuses on the views of Australian philosopher-physicist Ernst Mach, the earliest and most systematic writer on thought experiments (and, not coincidentally, mentor of the young Albert Einstein). It discusses Mach's response to the problem of informativeness. It then details the book's disagreements with Mach. It is argued that Mach's mistakes can be traced to his sensationalism and a one-sided diet of examples. His sensationalism led him to overemphasize the mentalistic aspects of thought experiment and to throw away tools needed to explain its genuinely a priori features. Perhaps because of this, Mach's attention gravitated toward thought experiments he could explain (natural science cases) and away from the recalcitrant normative examples (in aesthetics, ethics, logic, and mathematics). To get a complete account of thought experiments, we should reject sensationalism and consider how armchair inquiry works in general.

Keywords: Ernst Mach; children; cognitive bargain hunters; informativeness; sensationalism

Chapter.  11486 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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