What can the history of mathematics learn from philosophy? A case study in Newton’s presentation of the calculus.
Philosophia Mathematica 4 (1):35-57 (1989)
One influential interpretation of Newton's formulation of his calculus has regarded his work as an organized, cohesive presentation, shaped primarily by technical issues and implicitly motivated by a knowledge of the form which a "finished" calculus should take. Offered as an alternative to this view is a less systematic and more realistic picture, in which both philosophical and technical considerations played a part in influencing the structure and interpretation of the calculus throughout Newton's mathematical career. This analysis sees the development of Newton's calculus not principally as a calculated movement toward "rigorous" justification (in the sense of Cauchy, Weierstrass, and their 19th century contemporaries) and refinement of techniques, but as an evolution in the light of his involvement in debates over philosophical and scientific issues central to the rise of modern philosophy and science in the 17th and early 18th centuries.
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