David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Synthese 185 (3):429-466 (2012)
The mathematical nature of modern science is an outcome of a contingent historical process, whose most critical stages occurred in the seventeenth century. ‘The mathematization of nature’ (Koyré 1957 , From the closed world to the infinite universe , 5) is commonly hailed as the great achievement of the ‘scientific revolution’, but for the agents affecting this development it was not a clear insight into the structure of the universe or into the proper way of studying it. Rather, it was a deliberate project of great intellectual promise, but fraught with excruciating technical challenges and unsettling epistemological conundrums. These required a radical change in the relations between mathematics, order and physical phenomena and the development of new practices of tracing and analyzing motion. This essay presents a series of discrete moments in this process. For mediaeval and Renaissance philosophers, mathematicians and painters, physical motion was the paradigm of change, hence of disorder, and ipso facto available to mathematical analysis only as idealized abstraction. Kepler and Galileo boldly reverted the traditional presumptions: for them, mathematical harmonies were embedded in creation; motion was the carrier of order; and the objects of mathematics were mathematical curves drawn by nature itself. Mathematics could thus be assigned an explanatory role in natural philosophy, capturing a new metaphysical entity: pure motion. Successive generations of natural philosophers from Descartes to Huygens and Hooke gradually relegated the need to legitimize the application of mathematics to natural phenomena and the blurring of natural and artificial this application relied on. Newton finally erased the distinction between nature’s and artificial mathematics altogether, equating all of geometry with mechanical practice.
|Keywords||Alberti, Leon Batista Curves da Vinci, Leonardo Descartes, René Galilei, Galileo Geometry Geometrical machines Hooke, Robert Huygens, Christiaan Indivisibles Kepler, Johannes Light Mathematical diagrams Mechanics Motion Local Pure Newton, Isaac Optics Order Pendulum Perspectiva Physica Rota Aristotelis Spring Tartaglia, Niccolo Trajectories Traces Vacuum|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
René Descartes (1984). The Philosophical Writings of Descartes. Cambridge University Press.
René Descartes, Ch Adam & Paul Tannery (1982). Oeuvres de Descartes. Monograph Collection (Matt - Pseudo).
Paolo Mancosu (1996). Philosophy of Mathematics and Mathematical Practice in the Seventeenth Century. Oxford University Press.
René Descartes, Valentine Rodger Miller & Reese P. Miller (1983). Principles of Philosophy. Reidel Distributed by Kluwer Boston, C1983.
John Sutton (1998). Philosophy and Memory Traces: Descartes to Connectionism. Cambridge University Press.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
David Sepkoski (2007). Nominalism and Constructivism in Seventeenth-Century Mathematical Philosophy. Routledge.
Carlo Cellucci (2013). Philosophy of Mathematics: Making a Fresh Start. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (1):32-42.
John A. Schuster (2012). Physico-Mathematics and the Search for Causes in Descartes' Optics—1619–1637. Synthese 185 (3):467-499.
Jean De Groot (2006). A Husserlian Perspective on Empirical Mathematics in Aristotle. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 80:91-99.
Edward Grant (2007). A History of Natural Philosophy: From the Ancient World to the Nineteenth Century. Cambridge University Press.
Michael Friedman (2012). Newton and Kant: Quantity of Matter in the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science. Southern Journal of Philosophy 50 (3):482-503.
Struan Jacobs (1994). Laws of Nature, Corpuscules, and Concourse. Journal of Philosophical Research 19:373-393.
Christoph Hoerl (2015). Seeing Motion and Apparent Motion. European Journal of Philosophy 23 (3):676-702.
Margaret Catherine Morrison (2006). Scientific Understanding and Mathematical Abstraction. Philosophia 34 (3):337-353.
Added to index2011-11-22
Total downloads24 ( #151,851 of 1,789,825 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #420,681 of 1,789,825 )
How can I increase my downloads?