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Artful ExperimentsWays of Knowing in Victorian Literature and Science$
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Philipp Erchinger

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474438957

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474438957.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 17 May 2022

The Art of Science: Nineteenth-Century Theory and the Logic of Practice

The Art of Science: Nineteenth-Century Theory and the Logic of Practice

(p.17) Chapter 1 The Art of Science: Nineteenth-Century Theory and the Logic of Practice
Artful Experiments

Philipp Erchinger

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter examines how nineteenth-century philosophers from William Paley and Charles Darwin to John S. Mill and William Whewell described and debated the relations between art and science as well as practice and theory. Offering close readings of Paley’s Natural Theology and of various passages from Charles Darwin’s work on breeding and gardening, the chapter distinguishes between two conceptions of art in the sense of skilful practice: art as guided by knowledge and different from nature on the one hand and art as productive of knowledge as well as continuous with an evolving nature on the other. As the chapter argues, these two notions of art played a key role in a controversy between John S. Mill and William Whewell that was carried out, between 1840 and 1872, through successive editions of their published works. Engaging closely with the style and spirit in which this debate was conducted, the chapter shows that Mill and Whewell argued from radically different conceptions of what ‘science’ means. As a result, they disagreed, for instance, about the very question of what constitutes a logical form of argument or proof.

Keywords:   art and science, practical and theoretical knowledge, William Paley, Charles Darwin, skilful work, artificial selection, J.S. Mill, William Whewell, logic, epistemology

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