(Studies in the Scientific Revolution)

Assignment 12: Due Thursday, 11/29/07

This class (11/29) is the last regular class.  Next week’s class (12/6) will be held on the day of the final, 12/13/07, starting at 6:00 pm. 

Translation: Don’t show up for class on 12/6/07.

Read pp. 53-80 (feel free to read to the end) from Williams, L. Pearce. Michael Faraday, a Biography. New York,: Basic Books, 1965. Williams-faraday-ch2.PDF [1.8 MB]  This is an excellent book and I highly recommend it to all with an interest in early electrical theory.


Roger Boscovich, a Serbo-Croatian Jesuit priest who lived in Italy and France for most of his adult life, took up many of Newton’s Queries, especially Q31 which we read last time.  He sort of combines Leibniz with Newton and comes up with a theory of cohesion and heat vibrations and something that superficially appears to be electron orbital levels and DeBroglie waves and Leonard-Jones potentials.  But this is reading way more into him than he could have ever dreamed, but at the same time you do have to wonder what got these guys going on such crazy, but fertile, ideas.  So far as I know, the church never got in his way.  He was the church.


Read these three PDFs from Boscovich’s Philosophiĺ Naturalis Theoria (Theory of Natural Philosophy), usually just called, Theoria. 

The first edition was printed in 1758 and the second (the one from which this translation was done) from 1763.


a. Read over this: Bosco_IntroPages120.pdf [308 KB]


…and then…


b. Boscovich_SynopsisAndfewPages.pdf [1.8 MB] (See below for what parts to read.)

Read “Part I”  (PDF pages 1-2), 

“Part III” (PDF pages 4-5), and

the “Part I” that starts on PDF page 5 to the end of this PDF.

Consider the graph below and respond to the questions posed.



…and then…


c. Read this paragraph on overlapping realities. Boscovich_OnMultipleUniverses.pdf [313 KB]


Read this overview of Hume’s thoughts on inductive reasoning: Hume_ProblemsWithInduction.htm Hume (1711-1776) [I don’t know where this came from… a friend of mine sent it to me years ago and I then modified it. Make up some sort of citation that makes sense if you refer to it, or find a more credible source and cite that.]


Read this essay by Thomas Kuhn: Kuhn_WhatAreSciRevs_ProbRev.pdf [2.9 MB]


Read this: "Women of Natural Knowledge."  Schiebinger_WomenNaturalKnow_Cambrid100.pdf [1.4 MB]


Write an essay on some aspect inspired by the above readings…the standard drill.  Feel free to riff on this stuff.  But, be advised that I need to see that you actually read the readings.  The more you can refer to them, the better. 


Citations and optional “souped-up” materials (last week’s optional articles are also appropriate for this week)



Boscovich, Ruggero Giuseppe. A Theory of Natural Philosophy. Translated by J. M. Child. English ed. Cambridge, Mass.,: M. I. T. Press, 1966. Here are two more sections from Boscovich:

                   Boscovich_MindOfGod.pdf [1.5 MB]    and/or    Boscovich_OnSpaceAndTime.pdf [1.1 MB]


Boscovich, Ruggero Giuseppe, and Karl Scherffer. Philosophiĺ Naturalis Theoria Redacta Ad Unicam Legem Virium in Natura Existentium. Prostat Viennĺ Austriĺ: In officina Libraria Kaliwodiana, 1758.


Kuhn, Thomas S. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. 3rd ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996. This is perhaps the most influential book in the philosophy of science of the last 100 years. We just don’t have time to read it. 


Kuhn, Thomas S. "What Are Scientific Revolutions?" In The Probabilistic Revolution, ed. Lorenz Krüger, Lorraine Daston and Michael Heidelberger, pp. 7-21. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1987.


Williams, L. Pearce. Michael Faraday, a Biography. New York,: Basic Books, 1965.


Scott, Wilson L. "The Significance Of ‘Hard Bodies’ In the History of Scientific Thought." Isis 50, no. 3 (1959): 199-210. ScottWilson_Hardbodies.pdf [433 KB] I have posted this before, and Matt used it for his presentation on Least Action… but it is a good one for those of you with an interest in mixed math (mathematized physics). This is an excellent article on Newtonian atomism and conservation theory in the making. Here is another link to it, if the other one doesn’t work: ScottWilson_Hardbodies.pdf [434 KB].


Sabra, A. I. Theories of Light: From Descartes to Newton. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1981. Reprint, 1967 first ed.  This is chapter 5 on Fermat’s Principle of Least Time which I waved my hands at in the last class.  Sabra_Ch5_FermatLeastTime_Theories_of_Light100.pdf [2.1 MB]


Feingold, Mordechai. The Newtonian Moment : Isaac Newton and the Making of Modern Culture. New York: New York Public Library, 2004. This is a chapter about how women were involved with the Newtonian revolution. Feingold_NewtonianWomen.pdf  [3.4 MB]


Schiebinger, Londa. "Women of Natural Knowledge." In The Cambridge History of Science: Early Modern Science (1490-1730), ed. Katharine Park and Lorraine Daston, vol. 3, pp. 192-205. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006.


Disalle, Robert. "Newton's Philosophical Analysis of Space and Time." In The Cambridge Companion to Newton, ed. I. Bernard Cohen and George E. Smith, pp. 33-56. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002. This article has some thoughts on Newton’s famous “bucket” argument and absolute space. Disalle_CambridgeNewton_Space-time100.pdf [2.8 MB]


Debus, Allen G. Man and Nature in the Renaissance. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1978.

Have a nice break.

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SciRev Syllabus.