Critical Comments on a Reactionary Philosophy Chapter 1. To these works we shall now turn, postponing for later treatment an examination of the corrections and emendations subsequently made by these writers. To discover the laws of connection of sensations Physics. To explain the laws of connection between sensations and ideas Psycho-physics. The subject matter of physics is the connection between sensations and not between things or bodies, of which our sensations are the image.
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His grandfather, Wenzl Lanhaus, an administrator of the Chirlitz estate, was also master builder of the streets there. His activities in that field later influenced the theoretical work of Ernst Mach.
It was there that Ernst Mach was baptized by Peregrin Weiss. Mach later became a socialist and an atheist. In he became a student at the University of Vienna. His early work focused on the Doppler effect in optics and acoustics. In , he took a job as Professor of Mathematics at the University of Graz , having turned down the position of a chair in surgery at the University of Salzburg to do so, and in he was appointed as Professor of Physics.
During that period, Mach continued his work in psycho-physics and in sensory perception. In , he took the chair of Experimental Physics at the Charles University , Prague , where he stayed for 28 years before returning to Vienna. He described how when a bullet or shell moved faster than the speed of sound, it created a compression of air in front of it. Using schlieren photography , he and his son Ludwig were able to photograph the shadows of the invisible shock waves.
During the early s Ludwig was able to invent an interferometer which allowed for much clearer photographs. But Mach also made many contributions to psychology and physiology, including his anticipation of gestalt phenomena, his discovery of the oblique effect and of Mach bands , an inhibition-influenced type of visual illusion, and especially his discovery of a non-acoustic function of the inner ear which helps control human balance.
This position seemed incompatible with the view of atoms and molecules as external, mind-independent things. In Mach suffered from cardiac arrest and in retired from the University of Vienna and was appointed to the upper chamber of the Austrian parliament.
From there followed important explorations in the field of supersonic fluid mechanics. Mach and physicist-photographer Peter Salcher presented their paper on this subject  in ; it correctly describes the sound effects observed during the supersonic motion of a projectile.
They deduced and experimentally confirmed the existence of a shock wave of conical shape, with the projectile at the apex. It is a critical parameter in the description of high-speed fluid movement in aerodynamics and hydrodynamics. Philosophy of science[ edit ] Empirio-criticism[ edit ] From to , Mach held a newly created chair for "the history and philosophy of the inductive sciences" at the University of Vienna.
He originally saw scientific laws as summaries of experimental events, constructed for the purpose of making complex data comprehensible, but later emphasized mathematical functions as a more useful way to describe sensory appearances. Thus scientific laws while somewhat idealized have more to do with describing sensations than with reality as it exists beyond sensations.
When the human mind, with its limited powers, attempts to mirror in itself the rich life of the world, of which it itself is only a small part, and which it can never hope to exhaust, it has every reason for proceeding economically. In reality, the law always contains less than the fact itself, because it does not reproduce the fact as a whole but only in that aspect of it which is important for us, the rest being intentionally or from necessity omitted.
In mentally separating a body from the changeable environment in which it moves, what we really do is to extricate a group of sensations on which our thoughts are fastened and which is of relatively greater stability than the others, from the stream of all our sensations.
Suppose we were to attribute to nature the property of producing like effects in like circumstances; just these like circumstances we should not know how to find. Nature exists once only. Our schematic mental imitation alone produces like events. Empirio-criticism is the term for the rigorously positivist and radically empirical philosophy established by the German philosopher Richard Avenarius and further developed by Mach, which claims that all we can know is our sensations and that knowledge should be confined to pure experience.
Since one cannot observe things as small as atoms directly, and since no atomic model at the time was consistent, the atomic hypothesis seemed to Mach to be unwarranted, and perhaps not sufficiently "economical".
Mach had a direct influence on the Vienna Circle philosophers and the school of logical positivism in general. To Mach are attributed a number of principles that distill his ideal of physical theorisation—what is now called "Machian physics": It should be based entirely on directly observable phenomena in line with his positivistic leanings  It should completely eschew absolute space and time in favor of relative motion  Any phenomena that would seem attributable to absolute space and time e.
Einstein cited it as one of the three principles underlying general relativity. He took an exceptionally non-dualist, phenomenological position. The founder of radical constructivism, von Glasersfeld , gave a nod to Mach as an ally. That the sense of balance depended on the three semicircular canals was discovered in by the physiologist Friedrich Goltz , but Goltz did not discover how the balance-sensing apparatus functioned.
The effect exaggerates the contrast between edges of the slightly differing shades of gray, as soon as they contact one another, by triggering edge-detection in the human visual system.
The philosophical journals speak perhaps more of pragmatism than of anything else. From the standpoint of materialism the difference between Machism and pragmatism is as insignificant and unimportant as the difference between empirio-criticism and empirio-monism. Their great use is to summarise old facts and to lead to new ones. They are only a man-made language, a conceptual short-hand, as some one calls them, in which we write our reports of nature; and languages, as is well known, tolerate much choice of expression and many dialects. Thus human arbitrariness has driven divine necessity from scientific logic. We make complaint of it, on the contrary, for what it is not — not a permanent warrant for our more ideal interests, not a fulfiller of our remotest hopes.
Materialism and Empirio-criticism