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What was Mechanical about Mechanics : The Concept of Force between Metaphysics and Mechanics from Newton to Lagrange - J.Christiaan Boudri

What was Mechanical about Mechanics

The Concept of Force between Metaphysics and Mechanics from Newton to Lagrange


Published: 31st January 2002
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The Age of Reason is left the Dark Ages of the history of mechanics. Clifford A. Truesdell) 1. 1 THE INVISIBLE TRUTH OF CLASSICAL PHYSICS There are some questions that physics since the days of Newton simply cannot an­ swer. Perhaps the most important of these can be categorized as 'questions of eth­ ics', and 'questions of ultimate meaning'. The question of humanity's place in the cosmos and in nature is pre-eminently a philosophical and religious one, and physics seems to have little to contribute to answering it. Although physics claims to have made very fundamental discoveries about the cosmos and nature, its concern is with the coherence and order of material phenomena rather than with questions of mean­ ing. Now and then thinkers such as Stephen Hawking or Fritjof Capra emerge, who appear to claim that a total world-view can be derived from physics. Generally, however, such authors do not actually make any great effort to make good on their claim to completeness: their answers to questions of meaning often pale in compari­ 2 son with their answers to conventional questions in physics. Moreover, to the extent that they do attempt to answer questions of meaning, it is easy to show that they 3 draw on assumptions from outside physics.

List of Illustrationsp. xiii
Acknowledgementsp. xv
The Invisible Truth of Classical Physicsp. 1
Historiographic Orientationp. 5
The Horizon of the Scientific Revolutionp. 5
Mechanics in the Eighteenth Centuryp. 9
Three Controversies over the Concept of Forcep. 15
The Place of Philosophy in this Bookp. 21
History of Science or Philosophy of Science?p. 21
A Working Definition of Metaphysicsp. 22
Explicit and Implicit Metaphysicsp. 26
Substance and Structure: Basic Concepts of Metaphysical Changep. 28
The Unity of the Concept of Force
Force Like Water
A Brief Archeology of the Concept of Force in the Seventeenth Centuryp. 32
Quantity and Qualityp. 35
The Distiction according to Aristotlep. 35
Scholastic Considerationsp. 37
Quantification of the Concept of Forcep. 39
The Point of Departure: Dead and Living Forcep. 41
Galileop. 42
Descartesp. 47
Impact, Lifting and Weightp. 50
Impetus: The Goal Attainedp. 51
A Related Distinction: Inertia and Resistancep. 52
Impetus, Living Force, and Inertiap. 52
Galileo's Concept of Inertiap. 54
Descartes's Concept of Inertiap. 56
Newton's Concept of Inertiap. 57
The Unity of Newton's Concept of Forcep. 59
Instantaneous and Continuous Forcesp. 59
A Practical Examplep. 62
Force like Waterp. 65
Conclusionp. 68
Leibniz: Force as the Essence of Substance
Introductionp. 70
Leibniz's Influence on the Eighteenth Centuryp. 70
Leibniz's Significance for Mechanicsp. 73
The Structure of this Chapterp. 74
Leibniz's Early Concept of Forcep. 75
Leibniz's Criticism of Descartesp. 75
The Measure of Forcep. 77
Force as the Contens and Cause of Transferencep. 80
Leibniz's Differentiation of the Concept of Forcep. 81
Aristotelianism and Atomismp. 81
From Moving Force to True Unityp. 83
A Further Analysis of the True Unitiesp. 87
Force as the Essence of True Unityp. 89
Leibniz's Concept of Mechanical Forcep. 91
Fundamental and Derivative Forcesp. 91
Active and Passive Forcesp. 93
Conservation of Living Forcep. 94
The Integration of Dead Forcep. 95
Conclusion: Similarities between Newton's and Leibniz's Concepts of Mechanical Forcep. 99
Towards a New Metaphysics
From Cause to Phenomenon
Introductionp. 104
Between Leibniz and d'Alembert: A Change in the Definition of the Problemp. 105
Atomism and Conservation Theoriesp. 105
Experimental Modes of Responsep. 107
The Importance of d'Alembert in the Vis Viva Controversyp. 109
Causality in Mechanicsp. 111
D'Alembert's Purification of Metaphysicsp. 111
Final Causesp. 113
Mechanical Causesp. 114
Necessity and Contingencyp. 117
D'Alembert's Foundation of Mechanicsp. 118
D'Alembert's Methodp. 118
The Subject of Mechanics: Moving Matterp. 120
The Principles of Statics and Dynamicsp. 121
Mechanics as a Science of Structurep. 126
D'Alembert's Conception of Forcep. 126
Property, Function and Causep. 129
The Measure of Living Forcep. 131
D'Alembert's Transformation of the Concept of Forcep. 132
Conclusion: Structuralization and Instrumentalizationp. 132
From Efficient to Final Causes: The Origin of the Principle of Least Action
Introductionp. 134
The Greatest Possible Scandal at Courtp. 134
Intermezzo: The Mathematical Formulation of the Principle of Least Actionp. 136
The Significance of the Principle of Least Action for Mechanicsp. 137
Maupertuis's Newtonian Backgroundp. 140
From Soldier to Scholarp. 140
Maupertuis's Defense of Newton's Theory of Attractionp. 141
The Expedition to the Polep. 144
The Birth of the Principle of Least Action, in Maupertuis and Eulerp. 145
Minimal Principles in Staticsp. 145
The Principle of Least Action in Opticsp. 149
Extending the Principle of Least Action to Mechanicsp. 153
Euler's Response to Maupertuis's "Law of Rest"p. 155
The First Steps of the Principle of Least Actionp. 159
Maupertuis's "Lois du mouvement" (1746)p. 159
Euler's Insightsp. 163
Euler's Foundation of the Laws of Collisionsp. 167
Conclusion: Teleology and Structure Metaphysicsp. 170
Between Metaphysics and Mechanics
The Concept of Force in the 1779 Berlin Essay Competition
Introductionp. 174
The Berlin Academy's Philosophical Competitionsp. 174
An Innovation for the Academic Worldp. 175
The Status of the Philosophical Competition at about 1779p. 177
The Significance of the Competition on the Foundation of Forcep. 180
Parisian Arrogancep. 180
Formulation and Analysis of the Questionp. 181
Comparison with Wolff's Concept of Forcep. 185
The Competition Essaysp. 189
Generalp. 189
Selectionp. 189
Overview of the Selected Essaysp. 192
The Prize-Winning Essay (Pap de Fagaras)p. 192
Essay I-M726p. 193
Essay I-M729p. 195
Essay I-M731 (Rehberg)p. 196
Essay I-M733p. 198
Essay I-M734 (Hi[beta]mann)p. 200
Essay I-M736p. 201
Conclusion: Divergence of Metaphysics and Mechanicsp. 203
Annex to Chapter 6: The Original Formulation of the Berlin Academy's Competition Question for 1779p. 206
Lagrange's Concept of Force
Introductionp. 207
Lagrange's Mathematical Reduction of Mechanicsp. 208
The 'Peak of Perfection'p. 208
The Early Meaning of the Principle of Least Action for Lagrangep. 210
Lagrange's 'True Metaphysics'p. 216
A Puzzling Remarkp. 216
Lagrange's Concept of Metaphysicsp. 216
Recognition and Rejection of Metaphysicsp. 218
Lagrange's Analytic Foundation of Mechanicsp. 218
"Recherches sur la libration de la lune" (1764)p. 218
The Mechanique analitiquep. 221
Conclusion: Force and Structure in Lagrange's Thoughtp. 224
Metaphysics Concealed
Exposition: A Paradox in the History of Sciencep. 229
Development: The Significance of Metaphysical Premisesp. 230
Climax: The Concept of Mechanical Force between Substance and Structurep. 232
Resolution: Separation and Transformation around 1780p. 235
Epilogue: History and Metaphysics in Modern Natural Sciencep. 236
Bibliographyp. 241
Indexp. 263
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9781402002335
ISBN-10: 1402002335
Series: Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science
Audience: Professional
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 280
Published: 31st January 2002
Publisher: Springer-Verlag New York Inc.
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.5 x 15.5  x 2.54
Weight (kg): 1.32