Ottó Varga’s Evaluation
[Archive file number: XXVI – 3/b. 832/1946-47.]
In the history of human thought, rationalism and irrationalist romanticism have been fighting since the 18th century. The latter does not find the categorical forms of reason’s thought adequate for the interpretation of life and the world, and it turns toward the irrational aspects. Thus, organic view is created. Laplace saw the world as a reasonable system of elements, and sought after a formula from which the future state of the world could be derived; but after him, the basic notion of totality has been given an increasing importance, according to which the parts, form which the universe is composed of, are connected to one another not mechanistically but teleologically. Therefore, the 20th century advocates the primacy of the spirit, it prefers spiritualism to materialism. Each science is a different apparent form of the very same essence, and should be handled with this principle in mind. In philosophy, in social sciences or in economy, the consequence of this view is Spann’s system: universalism.
In his dissertation, our candidate points out these changes and contradictions in 19th and 20th century thought. He especially examines Du Bois Reymond’s view, who was a typical representative of rationalism in the natural sciences, and stated that cognition of nature follows from the mechanics of atoms. This view is confronted with the present ideas of quantum mechanics concerning the structure of atoms, which follow from Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle. This latter view states that atoms, and their building elements: the various corpuscules, have a certain individuality from a physical point of view. Lakatos argues that this individuality means irrationalism, as opposed to rational physics. He thinks that the dissolution of contradictions is made possible only when we view any scientific statement as a creation of the society which created that science – that is, truth is always the function of history. As a consequence of this opinion, he emphasises the indispensable unity of the natural and the moral sciences. Of course, he sees this unity not in the spirit, and his world view is not a continuation of Hegel’s irrealist system—Spannism—but, starting from Marx’s historical materialism, he seeks after, and thinks to find, this unity in the natural sciences, in the comparative analysis of classical and modern physics.
Imre Lakatos starts to examine this problem with a profound analysis of natural scientific concepts, but his solution is essentially based on the method of dialectical materialism. As I am only the fellow opponent of this dissertation, my task here is not more than the evaluation of its scientific aspects, and thus I conclude that, from this point of view, it shows a surpassing knowledge of the subject, and proves a confident judgement. Therefore, I accept this dissertation as summa cum laude basis for the oral examinations.
Debrecen, 26 June 1947.