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Gustavo Bueno

Sciences as Categorical closures

Translated by Brendan Burke
and revised by Lino Camprubí

Pentalfa, Oviedo 2013

ISBN 9788478485437 · 133×214 mm · 143 pgs
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Gustavo Bueno (Santo Domingo de la Calzada, España 1924) studied at the University of Zaragoza and Madrid. After writing his dissertation as a grant student at the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), he earned a position as Full Professor of Secondary Education in 1949 and immediately began teaching duties in Salamanca at the Lucía de Medrano secondary school. In 1960 he was awarded a position as Chair of the Foundations of Philosophy and History of Philosophical Systems at the University of Oviedo, where he remained until 1998. He is both founder and editor of the El Basilico philosophy journal and currently works at the foundation which bears his name, the Fundación Gustavo Bueno.

His more recent books include the five-volume Teoría del cierre categorial (Pentalfa, 1992-93), ¿Qué es la ciencia? (Pentalfa, 1995), El sentido de la vida (Pentalfa, 1996), El mito de la cultura (1996), ¿Qué es la filosofía? (Pentalfa, 1999), España frente a Europa (1999), Televisión: apariencia y verdad (2000), ¿Qué es la bioética? (Pentalfa, 2001), El mito de la izquierda (2003), El mito de la felicidad (2005), Zapatero y el pensamiento Alicia (2006), La fe del ateo (2007), El mito de la derecha (2008) and El fundamentalismo democrático (2010).

Sciences as Categorical closures. When asked, a great number of people would consider the question “what is science?” merely rhetorical, for the answer, to them, seems self-evident – science is what men of science do, something which allows us to “understand reality scientifically”. It is what enables us to control space shuttles to the moon, rockets to Jupiter and the genetic code. It is what will soon provide the cure for cancer and AIDS. Any further answers, they might say, can only be provided by scientists themselves.

As it stands, scientists do not always respond in a like manner. Some say that science is the systematization of observed facts or experiments. Others say that the sciences are simply models useful for gaining a grip on real things, functioning like nets flung to the sea to catch the greatest number of fish. Scientists, though, are not necessarily fit to respond to the question – a mathematician is not more qualified per se to respond to the question any more than a historian, for instance.

“What is science?” is a truly philosophical question. This treatise offers a theory on the philosophical theories of science and, employing the idea of categorical closure, sets forth a broad outline for a theory of science based on the tenets of philosophical materialism.


Table of Contents

I. No single, exclusive idea of science exists.
The need for a theory of science, 7

II. Four types of responses to the question, “What is science?”
Four “families” of theories of science, 21

III. The response from the theory of categorical closure.
An overview of gnoseological materialism, 43

IV. The origin and development of the sciences as seen
from the theory of categorical closure, 111

V. Science and Philosophy, 127