Taine's conception of science
Source document: Studia philosophica. 2013, vol. 60, iss. 2, pp. -62
ISSN1803-7445 (print)2336-453X (online)
License: Not specified license
Although Taine is primarily known as an aesthetician and historian of art and politics, the author focuses on the methodology of Taine's work, particularly on his conception of science. She shows one can trace Hegel's influence in Taine's work, which nevertheless mingles with reflections of Comte's views, even though one can find similarities with E. Mach's views in ontology. Taine attempted to apply the methodology of natural sciences to spiritual sciences, even though he was aware of a major difference – the unquantifiability in spiritual sciences. This involved an attempt to explain spiritual works on the basis of their real causes, which Taine mainly thought of as psychological. Psychology was not taken as introspection, though, but as a science the goal of which was to formulate laws and predict. Taine sought facts in literary documents. He began his investigation with particular facts, went on to generalize and state laws and then returned to the particular facts to explain them by the discovered laws. Taine did not seek final causes. In analyzing the application of this general approach to the history of art and politics, the author emphasizes Taine's conception of race, moment and environment. She particularly focuses on the concept of race and also considers the relation of masses and great figures. In the conclusion the author adds the reactions of Taines contemporaries and current authors.