Mach and Hertz's mechanics

The place of Heinrich Hertz’s The principles of mechanics in the history of the philosophy of science is disputed. Here I critically assess positivist interpretations, concluding that they are inadequate.There is a group of commentators who seek to align Hertz with positivism, or with specific positivists such as Ernst Mach, who were enormously influential at the time. Max Jammer is prominent among this group, the most recent member of which is Joseph Kockelmans. I begin by discussing what Hertz and Mach had to say about one another, and I specify certain respects in which their views are indeed similar. I then go on to detail their differences, looking at Hertz’s attitude to the atomic theory, to the mechanical world-view, to simplicity, to unobservables and metaphysics, and his objections to Newtonian forces. I conclude that the positivist interpretation of Hertz’s mechanics significantly overplays its similarities to Mach’s views.Keywords: Ernst Mach; Heinrich Hertz; Mechanics; Positivism; Atomism; Force; Metaphysics
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1016/j.shpsa.2007.11.007
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 15,904
External links
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
S. G. Brush (1968). Mach and Atomism. Synthese 18 (2-3):192 - 215.
John Preston (2008). Hertz, Wittgenstein and Philosophical Method. Philosophical Investigations 31 (1):48–67.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

20 ( #139,757 of 1,725,417 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #349,420 of 1,725,417 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.