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CEFISES Seminar: Klaus Ruthenberg, “Chemistry, Catalysis, and Causality”

2023-09-29@14:00-16:00 CEST

Livestream https://youtu.be/ji5NffK9AWo

Series: Chemistry

Speaker: Klaus Ruthenberg (University of Applied Sciences Coburg)

Title: “Chemistry, Catalysis, and Causality”


Chemical phenomena inevitably involve materiality. Reactions might even be exposed to the impact of external factors. According to Wilhelm Ostwald “…in certain cases even almost immeasurably small amounts of foreign substance are enough to increase the rate to several multiples of its initial value or reduce it to a small fraction of it.” Since Berzelius we call this phenomenon catalysis. Together with the theoreticians, historians and philosophers of chemistry might ask, what exactly catalysis is. Is it about actuation or acceleration? This paper offers a preliminary impression of the intriguing philosophical aspects of this neglected field of investigation.

Selected sources:

Mittasch, A. (1938) Katalyse und Determinismus. Ein Beitrag zur Philosophie der Chemie. Berlin: Verlag von Julius Springer.
Mittasch, A. (1948) Von der Chemie zur Philosophie. Ausgewählte Schriften und Vorträge. Ulm: J. Ebner Verlag.
Mittasch, A. (1951) Wilhelm Ostwalds Auslösungslehre. (Sitzungsberichte der Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften, Mathematisch-naturwissenschaftliche Klasse, 1. Abhandlung.) Berlin etc.: Springer-Verlag.
Ostwald, W. (1917) Grundriss der Allgemeinen Chemie. 5.Aufl. Dresden und Leipzig: Verlag von Theodor Steinkopff.
Ostwald, W. (1894/1996) Chemische Theorie der Willensfreiheit. In: H. Bergmann, Hrsg., Abstand und Nähe, 39-45.


14:00-16:00 CEST


Pieter Thyssen


Salle Ladrière
Place du Cardinal Mercier 14 (bâtiment Socrate, a.124)
Louvain-la-Neuve, 1348 Belgium
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