[Dedicatee’s Copy:] The Idealistic Reaction Against Science.

English neo-Hegalianism and Anglo-American pragmatism

Dedicatee’s Copy of Italian professor Antonio Aliotta’s (1881–1964) important philosophical study of intellectualism and theories of knowledge with particular regard to science and mathematics. Professor Alliota’s book, La Reazione idealistica contro la scienza—here translated into English, won the 1912 Paladin Prize.

The book is dedicated to idealist philosopher and then University of St. Andrews Professor Alfred E. Taylor (1869–1945). An inscription on the endpaper, “A. E. Taylor e dono auctoris 1914,” states that this copy of the book was a gift from the author to Taylor. The hybrid Latin and Italian inscription (“e dono” rather than “ex dono”) suggests that the inscription was made by the author himself.

In his Preface, Antonio Aliotta declares:

This work must be regarded as a new edition rather than as a mere translation of my book, La Reazione idealistica contro la scienza, published in Italy in 1912, since I have subjected the whole of it to a process of revision with a view to improving it and adapting it to the British public. In the concluding chapter I have gathered together the constructive portions formerly scattered through the whole book, so as to give greater prominence to my personal point of view, which is a form of spiritualistic realism, and to make that view clearer. ...The line of thought adopted by me—that of the school of Francesco de Sarlo and his review, La Cultura filosofica, defends the rights of the scientific method and of natural reality against the facile denials of the neo-Hegelians. Idealism, which came into vogue in Italy after the decline of positivism, now appears to be on the wane, and the abuse of the dialectic method has resulted in such a confusion of ideas in mental sciences that [Benedetto] Croce himself recently lifted his voice in protest against these exaggerations. It is now time to return to realism… This productive trend of thought, which merits attention in other countries as well as in Italy, is not touched upon in the present volume, because it was not included in the general plan of my work, which does not aspire to be a complete history of contemporary philosophy, but merely a study of one aspect of it, i.e. of the phenomenon of irrationalism in its relations to criticism of science.(pp. vii–viii)

The text touches on intellectualism, anti-intellectualism, English neo-Hegalianism, Anglo-American pragmatism, and new theories of mathematics and science including “energetics” and “the new qualitative physics.” The Oxford-educated dedicateee, Alfred E. Taylor, was influenced by British Idealism and neo-Hegalianism and subsequently became a scholar of Plato. He was professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of St. Andrews and at the University of Edinburgh. Interestingly, on the half-title page there appears the additional ownership inscription of George Basalla, author and professor of the history of science and technology at the University of Delaware.

An important early 20th century philosophical book on intellectualism and theories of knowledge with a presentation inscription by the author and associated with two important academic authors.

Description: [Dedicatee’s Copy:] The Idealistic Reaction Against Science.

London: Macmillan and Co., 1914. First English edition. Translated by Agnes McCaskill. xxii, 483, 4[ads.]pp. 8vo., publisher’s red cloth without dustwrapper, top edge gilt. Dedicatee, Alfred Edward Taylor’s copy: inscribed on endpaper “A. E. Taylor e dono auctoris 1914.” History of science scholar and author George Basalla’s name to top of half-title. General binding wear; endpapers slightly browned; very good.


Price: $125.00