Science Fiction: Science, Vaihinger and Spengler's Fictionalist Philosophy of Science

In David Engels, Gerd Morgenthaler & Max Otte (eds.), Oswald Spengler in an Age of Globalisation. Berlin/Lüdinghausen: Manuscriptum. pp. 197-225 (2021)
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Oswald Spengler is best known as a philosopher of history. However, one can trace in volume one of his The Decline of the West a sustained consideration of philosophical issues pertaining to the nature and practice of science that I suggest can be considered to be a philosophy of science. Not only has Spengler’s philosophy of science been largely overlooked, so too has its peculiar fictionalist character. By elaborating on the fictionalist character of Spengler’s scientific views I shall consider his work in comparison with that of Hans Vaihinger, a contemporary of Spengler and noted fictionalist with regards to science. This comparison not only supports my interpretation of Spengler’s philosophy of science as fictionalist, it also throws into relief the numerous affinities between the thought of two philosophers who are not usually associated, in particular with regards to their accounts of the origins of science in the structures of human consciousness. This fictionalist affinity in turn suggests the need for a wholesale reappraisal of Spengler’s philosophical outlook.

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Gregory Morgan Swer
University of KwaZulu-Natal


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