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Substance versus Reactions

Image result for Joachim Schummer

I have now and then wondered, as my mind wandered, whether there can properly be said to be such a creature as the "philosophy of chemistry."

Biology has philosophical controversies specific to itself: the explication of the concept of natural selection for example, or the age-old reductionism-versus-holism thing.

Physics, likewise, has its own philosophical controversies. Indeed, much that goes by the name "philosophy of science" seems actually to be a philosophy of physics.The nature of space and time. Statistical mechanics, etc.

But chemistry? Wouldn't any effort to assign specific philosophical controversies to chemistry inevitably veer in one or the other of those directions? So I mused.

But it appears there really is a "philosophy of chemistry." Philosophers working this field debate whether chemistry is the study of substances or reactions -- stuff or events. In the words of Joachim Schummer, "Substance philosophers define a chemical reaction by the change of certain substances, whereas process philosophers define a substance by its characteristic chemical reactions."

Schummer is, as they say, "outstanding in his field." As the above photo illustrates!

My musings will have to find different queries hereafter. 


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