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Atom and Individual in the Age of Newton : On the Genesis of the Mechanistic World View - Gideon Freudenthal

Atom and Individual in the Age of Newton

On the Genesis of the Mechanistic World View


Published: 31st March 1986
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In this stimulating investigation, Gideon Freudenthal has linked social history with the history of science by formulating an interesting proposal: that the supposed influence of social theory may be seen as actual through its co- herence with the process of formation of physical concepts. The reinterpre- tation of the development of science in the seventeenth century, now widely influential, receives at Freudenthal's hand its most persuasive statement, most significantly because of his attention to the theoretical form which is charac- teristic. of classical Newtonian mechanics. He pursues the sources of the parallels that may be noted between that mechanics and the dominant philosophical systems and social theories of the time; and in a fascinating development Freudenthal shows how a quite precise method - as he descriptively labels it, the 'analytic-synthetic method' - which underlay the Newtonian form of theoretical argument, was due to certain interpretive premisses concerning particle mechanics. If he is right, these depend upon a particular stage of con- ceptual achievement in the theories of both society and nature; further, that the conceptual was generalized philosophically; but, strikingly, Freudenthal shows that this concept-formation itself was linked to the specific social relations of the times of Newton and Hobbes.

1. Problems and Methods of Analysis.- 2. Science and Philosophy; Newton and Leibniz.- 3. 'Absolute' and 'Relative' Space.- 4. Newton's Theory of Space and the Space Theory of Newtonianism.- 5. The Leibniz-Newton Discussion and the Leibniz-Clarke Correspondence.- One/Element and System in Classical Mechanics.- I. Newton's Justification of the Theory of Absolute Space.- 1. Absolute Motion and Absolute Space; Newton's First Presupposition.- 2. Proof of the Existence of a Vacuum; Newton's Second Presupposition.- 3. 'Density' and 'Quantity of Matter'.- 4. Proof of the Existence of Empty Space.- 5. The Essential Properties of a Particle in Empty Space; the Problem of Gravitation.- 6. Newton's Law of Inertia.- 7. A Single Particle in Empty Space; Newton's Fundamental Presupposition.- II. Leibniz's Foundations of Dynamics.- 1. Leibniz's New Measure of Force.- 2. Descartes' Error and the Limits of the Conception of Leibniz.- 3. Action motrice.- 4. Leibniz's Law of Inertia.- 5. Absolute Motion and Absolute Space.- 6. Density.- 7. Laws of Impact, Elasticity, and the Concept of a Material Body.- III. The Discussion Between Leibniz and Newton on the Concept of Science.- 1. Newton's Measure of Force and God's Intervention.- 2. Newton's Concept of Gravity and Space as the Sensorium Dei.- 3. Leibniz's Critique of the Unscientific Character of Newton's Philosophy.- 4. The Clock as a Scientific Model.- 5. Science and Unscientific Philosophy: Newton's Contradictory Views.- 6. Results.- Two/Element and System in Modern Philosophy.- IV. The Concept of Element in 17th Century Natural Philosophy.- 1. Bacon.- 2. Descartes.- 3. Newton's Critique of Descartes; Boyle's Compromise.- V. The Concept of Element in the Systematic Philosophy of Hobbes.- VI. The Concept of Element in 18th Century Social Philosophy.- 1. Jean-Jacques Rousseau.- 2. Adam Smith.- VII. The Relationship Between Natural and Social Philosophy in the Work of Newton, Rousseau, and Smith.- Three/On the Social History of the Bourgeois Concept of the Individual.- VIII. England Before the Revolution.- 1. Town, Country, and the Poor.- 2. The Politics of the Stuarts.- 3. The Church.- 4. Property and Protestantism Against Feudalism and Papism.- 5. Practical and Theoretical Struggle for Sovereignty.- IX. The Antifeudal Social Philosophy of Hobbes.- 1. Thomas Aquinas' Doctrine of Nature as a Hierarchical Organism of Unequal Elements.- 2. Thomas Aquinas' Doctrine of Society as a Hierarchical Organism of Unequal Elements.- 3. Catholic Church and Nation State in the 17th Century.- 4. Hobbes's Theory of the State as a Contract of Equal and Autarchic Individuals.- 5. Hobbes's Political Program.- 6. The Controversy with Feudal Theory and the Analytic-Synthetic Method.- X. The Rise of Civil Society in England.- 1. The Levellers.- 2. The Suppression of the Levellers.- 3. Restoration: Whigs and Tories.- 4. The Theoretical Controversies Between Whigs and Tories; Locke and Newton as Whigs.- 5. The Reign of the 'Plusmakers'.- XI. Alternative Conceptions of Civil Society.- 1. The Capitalistic Commodity Production of Independent Proprietors: Adam Smith.- 2. The Simple Commodity Production of Independent Private Proprietors: Jean-Jacques Rousseau.- XII. Civil Society and Analytic-Synthetic Method.- 1. Society as an Aggregate of Autarchic Individuals.- 2. Analysis as Determining the Properties of Single Individuals.- 3. Results.- Four/Atom and Individual.- XIII. The Bourgeois Individual and the Essential Properties of a Particle in Newton's Thought.- 1. Passivity and Activity as Essential Properties.- 2. Newton's 'Ego sum et cogito'.- 3. Freedom and Spontaneity.- 4. Will and Body; Active and Passive Principle.- 5. The System of 'Natural Freedom' in the State and in the World System.- 6. System of Philosophy.- 7. Newtonian Ideology.- XIV. Element and System in the Philosophy of Leibniz.- 1. The 'Oppressed Counsellor'.- 2. On the Social Philosophy of Leibniz.- 3. The Double Sense of Representation in Mechanics and Metaphysics.- Afterword.- Notes.- Bibliography of Works Cited.- List of Abbreviations.- Name Index.

ISBN: 9789027719058
ISBN-10: 9027719055
Series: Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science
Audience: Professional
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 288
Published: 31st March 1986
Publisher: Springer
Country of Publication: NL
Dimensions (cm): 23.5 x 15.5  x 2.54
Weight (kg): 1.31