PDC Homepage

Home » Products » Purchase

Epistemology & Philosophy of Science

Volume 55, Issue 3, 2018

William T. Lynch
Pages 25-34
DOI: 10.5840/eps201855343

Imre Lakatos and the Inexhaustible Atom
The Hidden Marxist Roots of History and Philosophy of Science

Recent work on Imre Lakatos’s missing Hungarian dissertation on the historical sociology of science sheds new light on his mature philosophy of science. Remembered primarily as an “internalist” defender of the autonomy of science, and a Cold Warrior in poli­tics, commentators have mistaken his contribution as primarily a rearguard action against the followers of Thomas Kuhn and the “externalists” influenced by Boris Hessen. It comes as a surprise, then, to find that he developed and retained a fully general soci­ology of scientific knowledge, with Marxist roots that articulated Lenin’s “inexhaustible atom.” He carried forward this emphasis on the fallible, changing, and incomplete nature of our engagement with the natural world by a dialectical account of how research programs advance and recede historically. In his effort to develop a synthesis of Popper and Kuhn, and via his engagement with Paul Feyerabend, he continued to develop a distinctly dialectical ap­proach to science.

Usage and Metrics
Dimensions
PDC