Euler's Galilean philosophy of science

Abstract

Here is a phrase never uttered before: ”Euler’s philosophy of science.” Known as an extraordinary mathematician first, a mathematical physicist Known as an extraordinary mathematician first, a mathematical physicist second, but never really a physicist — not enough empirical cred — no one has considered whether Euler had a philosophy of science. Even his famed “Letters to a Princess” is described as a somewhat naive parroting of New- ton. But Euler is no Newtonian. His philosophy of science borrows from Leibniz, a little from Descartes, but is best seen as continuous with the tradition of a Galilean interpre- tation of the world as consisting of interacting mechanisms, and the practice of letting the requirements of sound mechanical description and problem solving dictate metaphysics.

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Brian Hepburn
Wichita State University

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