Ostwald and the net

Wilhelm Ostwald’s philosophy of nature was first published in English under the title “Natural Philosophy” (translated by Thomas Seltzer, New York, Holt, 1910). “The original of this book was published as volume I in Reclam’s Bücher der Naturwissenschaft.”

Ostwald about the net of knowledge:

The same is true of an individual. No matter how limited the circle of his knowledge, it is a part of the great net, and therefore possesses the quality by virtue of which the other parts readily join it as soon as they reach the consciousness and knowledge of the individual. The man who thus enters the realm of science acquires advantages which may be compared to those of a telephone in his residence. … The mere beginner in learning, therefore, when receiving the most elementary instruction in school, or from his parents, or even from his personal experiences in his surroundings, is grasping one or more threads of the mighty net, … And this net has the valuable, even precious quality of being the same that joins the greatest and most comprehensive intellects in mankind to one another (pp. 7-8).


Picture from Wilhelm Ostwald, Die Welt der Formen (The world of forms), 1922.