The Language of Nature
Reassessing the Mathematization of Natural Philosophy in the Seventeenth Century
Reassessing how the integration of mathematics and natural philosophy contributed to the scientific revolution
Although the mathematization of nature is a distinctive and crucial feature of the emergence of modern science in the seventeenth century, this volume shows that it was a far more complex, contested, and context-dependent phenomenon than the received historiography has indicated.
Galileo’s dictum that the book of nature “is written in the language of mathematics” is emblematic of the accepted view that the scientific revolution hinged on the conceptual and methodological integration of mathematics and natural philosophy. Although the mathematization of nature is a distinctive and crucial feature of the emergence of modern science in the seventeenth century, this volume shows that it was a far more complex, contested, and context-dependent phenomenon than the received historiography has indicated, and that philosophical controversies about the implications of mathematization cannot be understood in isolation from broader social developments related to the status and practice of mathematics in various commercial, political, and academic institutions.
Contributors: Roger Ariew, U of South Florida; Richard T. W. Arthur, McMaster U; Lesley B. Cormack, U of Alberta; Daniel Garber, Princeton U; Ursula Goldenbaum, Emory U; Dana Jalobeanu, U of Bucharest; Douglas Jesseph, U of South Florida; Carla Rita Palmerino, Radboud U, Nijmegen and Open U of the Netherlands; Eileen Reeves, Princeton U; Christopher Smeenk, Western U; Justin E. H. Smith, U of Paris 7; Kurt Smith, Bloomsburg U of Pennsylvania.
Geoffrey Gorham, Benjamin Hill, and Edward Slowik
1. Reading the Book of Nature: The Ontological and Epistemological Underpinnings of Galileo’s Mathematical Realism
Carla Rita Palmerino
2. “The Marriage of Physics with Mathematics”: Francis Bacon on Measurement, Mathematics and the Construction of a Mathematical Physics
3. On the Mathematization of Free Fall: Galileo, Descartes, and a History of Misconstrual
Richard T. W. Arthur
4. The Mathematization of Nature in Descartes and the First Cartesians
5. Laws of Nature and the Mathematics of Motion
6. Ratios, Quotients, and the Language of Nature
7. Color By Numbers: The Harmonious Palette in Early Modern Painting
8. The Role of Mathematical Practitioners and Mathematical Practice in Developing Mathematics as the Language of Nature
Lesley B. Cormack
9. Leibniz on Order and the Notion of Substance: Mathematizing the Sciences of Metaphysics and Physics
10. Leibniz’s Harlequinade: Nature, Infinity, and the Limits of Mathematization
Justin E. H. Smith
11. The Geometrical Method as a New Standard of Truth, Based on the Mathematization of Nature
12. Philosophical Geometers and Geometrical Philosophers