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The Ørsted-Ritter partnership and the birth of Romantic natural philosophy

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Kant's critique of corpuscular theory created a tabula rasa situation in natural philosophy and opened up a vast new field of research, particularly related to the study of heat, light, electricity and magnetism. Ørsted introduced Kantian epistemology in Scandinavia and made friends with J. W. Ritter, an outstanding experimenter who was the first to make dynamical philosophy productive. The Ørsted—Ritter partnership aimed at the construction of a cosmology based on dynamical philosophy as well as galvanic interpretations of the Lichtenberg and Chladni patterns. It is suggested that Kantian critique and dynamical cosmology provided the framework within which Ørsted and Ritter made their epochal discoveries as well as their bold speculations. Finally, it is argued that the Romantics widened the scope of natural philosophy itself.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: The TISC-Project, Roskilde University Centre, P.O. Box 260, DK-4000, Roskilde, Denmark

Publication date: 01 March 1995

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