Seeking Nature's Logic: Natural Philosophy in the Scottish Enlightenment

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Penn State Press, 1 de gen. 2009 - 360 pàgines
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The Scottish Enlightenment was a vital moment in the history of Western civilization. As one modern admirer of Scotland cogently wrote: &“No small nation&—except Greece&—has ever achieved an intellectual and cultural breakthrough of this magnitude.&” Placing Isaac Newton&’s natural philosophy within a broad conceptual context, Seeking Nature&’s Logic takes that science from Galileo to the early nineteenth century, concentrating on Scotland during the 120 years from 1690 to 1810&—a period defined by the publication of Newton&’s Principia in 1687 and the death of John Robison in 1805. Newton&’s work changed the course of natural philosophy, and Robison was the most significant natural philosopher of the Scottish Enlightenment.

As professor of natural philosophy at Edinburgh University from 1774 to 1805, John Robison taught the premier science of the day at the premier science university of the time. He discovered experimentally that electrical and magnetic forces were, like gravity, inverse square forces, and he wrote influential treatises on electricity, magnetism, mechanics, and astronomy. By articulating a particularly Scottish approach to physics, he was the main conceptual link between Newton and those Scottish geniuses of Victorian physics, Lord Kelvin and James Clerk Maxwell. Seeking Nature&’s Logic explains the background of Robison&’s natural philosophy, analyzes his own sharply shifting ideas, and places those ideas in the context of early nineteenth-century Scottish thought.

 

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Continguts

Descartes Newton and Leibniz
1
The Legacy of Early Scottish Newtonians 16901740
33
2 Midcentury Glasgow University 17401760
69
Thomas Reid and His Colleagues 17601788
103
Joseph Black and His Disciples 17601786
133
John Anderson 17601796
171
6 John Robisons Phlogiston Physics Circa 1780
201
7 John Robisons Boscovichian Physics Circa 1800
235
8 TurnoftheCentury Edinburgh University 17901810
273
Bibliography
309
Index
335
Back Cover
345
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Quant a l’autor (2009)

David B. Wilson is Professor of History and Philosophy at Iowa State University. Among his publications are Did the Devil Make Darwin Do It? Modern Perspectives on the Creation-Evolution Controversy (1983) and Kelvin and Stokes: A Comparative Study in Victorian Physics (1987).

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