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Hans Christian ØrstedReading Nature's Mind$
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Dan Ch. Christensen

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199669264

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199669264.001.0001

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|  |  Hans Christian Ørsted and the Golden Age in a Wider Perspective

|  |  Hans Christian Ørsted and the Golden Age in a Wider Perspective

(p.653) 61 |  Hans Christian Ørsted and the Golden Age in a Wider Perspective
Hans Christian Ørsted

Dan C. Christensen

Oxford University Press

Ørsted's career is summed up briefly, and the historiography on him is delineated starting with Meyer, who concluded that in spite of youthful leanings towards Kant and Naturphilosophie Ørsted learnt from sober French science, which prepared him for his famous discovery. After Meyer American historians of science (Stauffer and Williams) reconsidered the influence of both Kant and Schelling to be positive, but during the past two decades or so a younger generation of Americans (Caneva, Wilson and Friedman) have moved historiography into the opposite extreme by ignoring Kant and exaggerating the importance of Schelling, who allegedly gave Ørsted the push to enable him to take ‘the crucial step’ toward discovering electromagnetism These positions are confronted with the archival material and assessed critically one by one. On this background I argue that Ørsted was an independent scientist, who took a great deal of inspiration from Kant's metaphysics, and that Ørsted was the scientist who most successfully brought Kant's dynamics to fruition. Finally, Ørsted's significant role in Danish cultural history is reconsidered and restored vis-à-vis Brandes's devaluation of the Danish Golden Age.

Keywords:   Historiography, Danish and international, Kantian metaphysics, schelling's naturphilosophie, Meyer, stauffer, Williams, Caneva, Wilson, Friedman, Ørsted's role in Danish cultural history reconsidered, Brandes

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