Both a historical treatment and a critical analysis, this work by a noted physicist takes a fascinating look at one of the fundamental and primordial notions in physical theory, the concept of force.
Tracing its development from ancient times to the twentieth century, the author demonstrates how Kepler initiated the scientific conceptualization of the idea of force, how Newton attempted a clear and profound definition, and how post-Newtonian physicists reinterpreted the notion — contrasting the concepts of Leibniz, Boscovich, and Kant with those of Mach, Kirchhoff, and Hertz. In conclusion, the modern trend toward eliminating the concept of force from the conceptual scheme of physical science receives an in-depth analysis.
Philosophically minded readers interested in the basic problems of science will welcome this volume, as will historians of science and physicists who wish to better understand the historical and epistemological foundations of their discipline. Saluted by Science as "an excellent presentation," and by The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science as "a highly stimulating and informative study," Concepts of Force offers an unsurpassed treatment of a vital subject. 1962 edition.
Presented here is a sampling of the best current scholarship on the Principia, its context, and its influence. The essays reflect the depth of inquiry and diversity of research that have characterized the last generation of work on Newton.
The volume opens with an essay by Richard S. Westfall that justifies claims that Newton was the "culmination of the scientific revolution." The I. Bernard Cohen essay that follows illustrates the difference between "mathematical principles" and "natural philosophy." Two complementary papers give new insights into the Newtonian foundations of celestial mechanics: William Harper analyzes Newton's argument for universal gravitation from the perspective of a philosopher of science; Michael S. Mahoney discusses the mathematical aspects of Newton's use of force law to determine planetary orbits.
B. J. T. Dobbs uses her research on alchemy to develop an integrated view of Newton's work, while P. E. Spargo explores the alchemistic theme in his paper on chemical experiments. Studies of comets are linked to the seventeenth-century political context in a novel way by Simon Schaffer. Anita Guerrini proves that Newton's concepts of the structure of matter and ether inspired speculations about the nature of insanity, while Norriss Hetherington shows that Newton's formulation of natural laws served as an inspirational model for Adam Smith's formulation of economic laws.
Arthur Donovan argues that Lavoisier's formulation of chemistry was not carried out in imitation of Newtonian natural philosophy but initiated a new tradition of "positive science." Frank Wilczek looks back from the perspective of contemporary physics and sees the seeds of modern ideas about transformations in Newton's admittedly speculative Queries. The volume concludes with a short overview by Dudley Shapere.
As the titles indicate, the range of essays included in this volume is wide, but most are concerned not so much with explaining Newton’s development as with assessing his contribution to the thought of others. They explore all aspects of the conceptual background—historical, philosophical, and narrowly methodological—and examine questions that developed in the wake of Newton’s science. The papers are varied yet unified in their attention to common themes and show the wealth of philosophical matter to be found in scientific synthesis. Newton left a rich complexity of philosophical problems whose attempted resolution helps our understanding both of method and positive science. His theories are one of the greatest achievements in physics; they are also valuable case studies for those interested in grasping the methodological and broadly philosophical basis of science.
Four of the seven essays in this volume were prepared for an international conference held at the University of Western Ontario in April 1967; the three other papers were added by the editors to supplement and unify the collection.
The editor’s introductions to each section provide a broader perspective informed by contemporary research in each area, including related topics. Each introduction furnishes proposals, including thematic bibliographies, for innovative research questions and projects in the classroom and in the field.
In Living Doubt, 26 papers are presented by some of the world's leading philosophers, demonstrating the rich and cosmopolitan variety of approach to Peirce's epistemology. The contributions are grouped under three general headings: Knowledge, truth and the pragmatic principle; Peirce and the epistemological tradition; and Knowledge, language and semeiotic.