Article ID: CBB608971380

Hegel’s Kilogram: On the Measure of Metrical Units (2017)


Brown, Nathan (Author)

Volume: 5
Issue: 10
Pages: 59-75

This paper considers the current metrological project to redefine the kilogram unit, and the International System of Units (SI) more broadly, through Hegel’s theory of measure and the distinction between measurement and measure it makes available. Hegel’s discussion of measure in the Science of Logic closely followed the inception of the metric system in the late 18th century, and the use of physical reference standards for metrical units (the meter and the kilogram) exemplifies his definition of measure as the unity of quality and quantity. I theorize the redefinition of the SI as a moment which returns to the practice of measurement to the problem of measure – to the question of how metrical units are grounded in relationships between quantity and quality. I argue that the redefinition of the kilogram through correlation with the Planck constant, rather than a physical reference object, exemplifies a dialectic of formalization and experiment constitutive of scientific practice, which displaces the immediacy of objects in order to approach ‘the concrete truth of being’ (Hegel’s characterization of measure) with adequate complexity

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Authors & Contributors
Günergun, Feza
Baytop, Asuman
Ihsanoglu, Ekmeleddin
Kaçar, Mustafa
Aydüz, Salim
Bir, Atilla
British Journal for the History of Philosophy
Acta Baltica historiae et philosophiae scientiarum
Journal of Dialectics of Nature
Physis: Rivista Internazionale di Storia della Scienza
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Annals of the History and Philosophy of Biology
Istanbul University
Free Press
College Publications
Oxford University Press
Metric system
Standardization and standards
Philosophy of science
Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich
Kant, Immanuel
Efendi, Hekimbasi Salih
Tertemiz, Serafettin Tevfik
Delambre, Jean Baptiste Joseph
Méchain, Pierre
Time Periods
19th century
18th century
20th century, early
21st century
20th century
17th century
Ottoman Empire
Convention du mètre (1875)
International Bureau of Weights and Measures
Latvian Academy of Sciences

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