What Are d’Alembert’s Philosophical Views?June 27, 2021
With his views on philosophy, d’Alembert is considered one of the pioneers of positivism. According to him, the source of all knowledge is the senses; The ability to think is a simple process. The only means of comprehending the outer universe are the senses. The sensations acquired through the senses gain the quality of knowledge by going through a simple process in the understanding.
Although D’Alembert adopted Locke’s views on knowledge and was inspired by Condillac in the perception of the outer world, he advocated a different idea. According to his understanding, the real is the material universe; All information that does not originate from the data of this universe consists of some assumptions and abstractions. The task of philosophy, which should apply the mathematical method in solving problems, is not to study and think only on concepts that reflect abstract entities, but to understand nature based on the data of natural sciences. Experimental sciences also need to apply mathematical methods when explaining natural phenomena.
When D’Alembert suggested that the mathematical method should be applied in philosophy, as in natural sciences, and that the truth could be grasped only in this way, he received the greatest reaction from the supporters of idealist philosophy. However, he was influential in the development of the philosophy of mathematics because of the method he adopted. In his work titled Melarges de litterature et de philosophie (“Mixes of Literature and Philosophy”), published in 1753, where mostly his philosophical essays were collected, he also included subjects that included other fields of knowledge. This work has been one of the important sources of the positivist movement for a long time.
D’Alembert’s non-discovery works were published twice after his death: These were published in 1805 by J.F. Bastien’s 18-volume Oeuvres philosophiques, historiques et litter-raires de d’Alembert (“D’Alembert’s Works of Philosophy, History, and Literature”) and Oeuvres completes de d’Alembert in 1821, compiled in 5 volumes by Bossange and Berlin Alembert’Air (“All works of D’Alembert”).
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer Yıldırım
Source: Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM)