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(2,772 words)

Author(s): Meyer-Abich, Klaus Michael | Danz, Christian | Kitschen, Friederike | Hurst, Matthias
[German Version] I. Philosophy Naturalism is a polysemous concept; its meaning depends on whether it is used (1) affirmatively or (2) with critical intention, depending on the presupposed understanding of nature. ¶ 1. Affirmative naturalism. When (a) the one nature of all things is contained in God in such a way that nothing can be contrasted with it, the gods and human beings are also (and unconditionally) conceived of as parts of this whole. The gods are then identical with the forces of nature (as in Greek religion [Greece: I,…

Natural Philosophy

(2,417 words)

Author(s): Meyer-Abich, Klaus Michael
[German Version] Natural philosophy is the philosophy of the one nature of things, in which all the many things of nature participate. Every philosophy began as natural philosophy in antiquity. The different philosophical disciplines have, however, separated from this beginning, so that now natural philosophy appears as one of many areas of philosophy. I. Antiquity Natural philosophy emerged from poetry with Hesiod. To recognize the being of the whole as proceeding from an original appears in retrospect to constitute the enquiry into its nature, yet the words ϕύσις/ phýsis and ὅλον/ hólon are not used by Hesiod here. He describes the nature of the whole as a structure of divine, and so normative, natural powers. About a century later, with Anaximander (611/10–547/545 …

Nuclear Energy

(586 words)

Author(s): Meyer-Abich, Klaus Michael
[German Version] Nuclear technology uses the energy from nuclear reactions for peaceful or military purposes. It is released when heavy nuclei (e.g. Uranium 235, Plutonium 239) are split (fission energy) or light atoms (Nuclear physics) are fused (e.g. production of helium from hydrogen: fusion energy). The potential for production of nuclear energy arises from the greater stability of moderately heavy atoms in comparison to atoms with higher or lower atomic weights. The possibility of splitting atomic nuclei was discovered in Berlin in 1938 by Otto Hahn, Lise Meitner, and Friedrich Wilhelm Straßmann. The employment of nuclear energy as a key technology in a dawning “atomic age” after World War II combined epochal hope and fears (cf. E. Bloch, Howe, v. Weizsäcker, K. Jaspers, Brockmöller). Initially these were due to the dropping of the first atomic bomb on Japan in 1945, an event that brought upon mankind the greatest horror ever occasioned by scientific knowledge. Especially in the United States, which had been responsible for the development and dropping of the atomic bombs, there were efforts to compensate through a politico-industrial program of “Atoms for Peace” (launched in 1953) to develop the “peaceful use” of nuclear energy. After a very few years, this program, based on advanced development in the military, set in operation in the United States the first generating plant to produce electricity from atomic energy using a “light water reactor.” Since then hundreds of generating plants of this sort have b…