Professor Alan Richardson of the UBC Department of Philosophy delivers an STS colloquium talk titled “Signal Achievements: Hans Reichenbach on Radio and on Radio” on Thursday, January 9, 5:00-6:30 pm in the Green College Coach House.
“The style of modern science has gradually taken on the competition-accelerated haste of technology, the tempo of sports records; one can regret this antihumanist movement, but it appears to be the necessary form of the productivity of our times.” –Hans Reichenbach, 1928
Hans Reichenbach (1891-1953) was one of the twentieth century’s most influential philosophers of science. Coiner of the term “logical empiricism,” Reichenbach was a key figure in philosophy of physics and general philosophy of science during the period of the rise and dominance of logical empiricist philosophy of science. While some of his contributions to philosophy maintain their relevance today or have been studied with care historically, he remains an understudied figure in the movement that he (among others) called “scientific philosophy.” Using modes of investigation more common to history and sociology of science than to history of philosophy, I wish to explore one question re Reichenbach’s early career: what do we learn about his efforts to make philosophy scientific in the 1920s by looking at his simultaneous, dual relation to the new technology of radio? He was at once a radio engineer working for a pioneering company, Erich Huth Signalbau, and a frequent contributor to radio, offering several series of 25-minute lectures on developments in science and philosophy. This is a foray into the science and technology studies of philosophy or what Francesca Bordogna has called simply “philosophy studies.”