L0005737 Immanuel Kant. Stipple engraving by F. W. Bollinger.
Immanuel Kant. Stipple engraving by F. W. Bollinger. Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

The philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) was the academic speciality of Gerd Buchdahl, who was a major figure in the development of the discipline of history and philosophy of science in Cambridge between his arrival from Australia in 1957 and his retirement in 1981. He served successively as Secretary of the Committee on History and Philosophy of Science, which administered teaching and examination in the subject before it achieved official departmental status in 1972, and then as Head of Department until 1974, enlarging the academic establishment and overseeing the expansion of the library.[1]

Gerd Buchdahl. http://www.hps.cam.ac.uk/library/specialcollections/buchdahl.html









Besides a comprehensive collection of the published works of Buchdahl, the Whipple Library today holds a significant body of unpublished material that was donated after his death in 2001. This includes preparatory notes and texts of talks and lectures delivered throughout his career, reviews of publications and a number of heavily annotated working copies of  modern editions of books by Kant, Husserl and others through which Buchdahl’s developing ideas can be traced.

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Prof. Nick Jardine and others have assessed Buchdahl’s contribution to Kant scholarship, and in particular his consideration of how Kant related his critical philosophy to the contents and methods of natural science.[2]  A list of the annotated material in the Whipple’s Buchdahl collection has also been published,[3] but there remains much to explore, and we hope that this feature will help fulfil the function of this A-Z series in generating more interest from the suitably curious.

Anna Jones

[1] N. Jardine, ‘Gerd Buchdahl (1914-2001): Founding Editor’, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 32,3 (2001), 401-405.

[2] N. Jardine, ‘Hermeneutic strategies in Gerd Buchdahl’s Kantian philosophy of science’, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 34 (2003), 183-208.

[3] J. Whitelock, J.M. Rampelt & N. Jardine, ‘Gerd Buchdahl’s writings in history and philosophy of science: a listing of publications, unpublished works, and annotated books’, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 34 (2003), 209-227.