Natural Philosophy Through the Eighteenth Century and Allied Topics [Book Review]

Review of Metaphysics 29 (2):340-341 (1975)

The essays which comprise this collection made their first appearance in 1948 to celebrate the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the British science journal, The Philosophical Magazine, which initially published many monographs in which distinguished scientific discoveries were announced. The present edition is a reprint of the supplement to the regular issue of 1948 and is now put out in book form to be more available for students of the history of science. The "natural philosophy" in the title reflects the way in which the meaning of the term "philosophy" has changed over the past two centuries, for all the essays are devoted to science as we now know it, even as The Philosophical Magazine has itself become a journal now devoted mainly to solid-state physics. Thus a succession of chapters details the history of astronomy, physics, chemistry, mathematics, and engineering through the eighteenth century; other topics include the history of The Philosophical Magazine and histories of scientific periodicals generally, of scientific instruments, and of scientific societies throughout the same era. The concluding essay, by F. Sherwood Taylor, is entitled "The Teaching of the Physical Sciences at the End of the Eighteenth Century"; this is a well documented study of syllabi for courses taught in the universities, as well as an account of the educations received by men who figured prominently in eighteenth-century science. The essays, whose authors include such notables as Sir H. Spencer-Jones, Herbert Dingle, J. R. Partington, J. F. Scott, and Douglas McKie, are uniformly good. They will interest mainly historians of science for their detailed coverage of both internalist and externalist aspects of eighteenth-century thought. They will also appeal to philosophers, however, if only to remind them how their own discipline gave birth to the "new science," and indeed gave it a unity in its early stages that it would do well to recover in the present day.—W.A.W.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0034-6632
DOI revmetaph1975292148
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