The Invention of Physical Science

The Invention of Physical Science : Intersections of Mathematics, Theology and Natural Philosophy Since the Seventeenth Century Essays in Honor of Erwin N. Hiebert

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Modern physical science is constituted by specialized scientific fields rooted in experimental laboratory work and in rational and mathematical representations. Contemporary scientific explanation is rigorously differentiated from religious interpretation, although, to be sure, scientists sometimes do the philosophical work of interpreting the metaphysics of space, time, and matter. However, it is rare that either theologians or philosophers convincingly claim that they are doing the scientific work of physical scientists and mathematicians.
The rigidity of these divisions and differentiations is relatively new. Modern physical science was invented slowly and gradually through interactions of the aims and contents of mathematics, theology, and natural philosophy since the seventeenth century. In essays ranging in focus from seventeenth-century interpretations of heavenly comets to twentieth-century explanations of tracks in bubble chambers, ten historians of science demonstrate metaphysical and theological threads continuing to underpin the epistemology and practice of the physical sciences and mathematics, even while they became disciplinary specialties during the last three centuries. The volume is prefaced by tributes to Erwin N. Hiebert, whose teaching and scholarship have addressed and inspired attention to these issues.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 278 pages
  • 162.6 x 233.7 x 25.4mm | 589.68g
  • Dordrecht, Netherlands
  • English
  • 1992 ed.
  • XXXIV, 278 p.
  • 079231753X
  • 9780792317531

Table of contents

Preface; R.S. Cohen. A Personal Appreciation. Erwin Nick Hiebert: The Wisconsin Years; R.H. Stuewer. A Personal Appreciation. Erwin Nick Hiebert: The Harvard Years; J.L. Richards. Introduction; M.J. Nye. Part I: Natural Theology, Natural Philosophy, and the Certainty of Mathematics. 1. Devils' Hells and Astronomers' Heavens: Religion, Method, and Popular Culture in Speculations about Life on Comets; S. Schechner Genuth. 2. The Doctrine of Chances without Change: Determinism, Mathematical Probability, and Quantification in the Seventeenth Century; L.J. Daston. 3. God, Truth, and Mathematics in Nineteenth-Century England; J.L. Richards. Part II: Problems of Contingency, Coherence, and Truth. 4. Theologians, Science, and Theories of Truth in Nineteenth-Century Germany; F. Gregory. 5. Equivalence, Pragmatic Platonism, and Discovery of the Calculus; S. Sigurdsson. Part III: The Aims and Foundations of Physical Science: The Cases of Electrical Physics, Psychophysics, and Physical Chemistry. 6. The Training of German Research Physicist Heinrich Hertz; J.Z. Buchwald. 7. From Psychophysics to Phenomenalism: Mach and Hering on Color Vision; R.L. Kremer. 8. A Usable Past: Creating Disciplinary Space for Physical Chemistry; D. Kormos Barkan. Part IV: Explanation and Discovery: The Claims of Chemistry, Physics, and Fortran. 9. Physics and Chemistry: Commensurate or Incommensurate Sciences? M.J. Nye. 10. Fortran, Physics, and Human Nature; P. Galison. Name Index. Appendix I: Erwin N. Hiebert's Doctoral Students and Directed Dissertations. Appendix II: Erwin N. Hiebert: Selected List of Publications.
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