Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science

Meanest Foundations and Nobler Superstructures

Hooke, Newton and the Compounding of the Celestiall Motions of the Planetts

Authors: Gal, Ofer

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About this book

This book is a historical-epistemological study of one of the most consequential breakthroughs in the history of celestial mechanics: Robert Hooke's (1635-1703) proposal to "compoun[d] the celestial motions of the planets of a direct motion by the tangent & an attractive motion towards a centrat body" (Newton, The Correspondence li, 297. Henceforth: Correspondence). This is the challenge Hooke presented to Isaac Newton (1642-1727) in a short but intense correspondence in the winter of 1679-80, which set Newton on course for his 1687 Principia, transforming the very concept of "the planetary heavens" in the process (Herivel, 301: De Motu, Version III). 1 It is difficult to overstate the novelty of Hooke 's Programme • The celestial motions, it suggested, those proverbial symbols of stability and immutability, werein fact a process of continuous change: a deflection of the planets from original rectilinear paths by "a centraU attractive power" (Correspondence, li, 313). There was nothing necessary or essential in the shape of planetary orbits. Already known to be "not circular nor concentricall" (ibid. ), Hooke claimed that these apparently closed "curve Line[ s ]" should be understood and calculated as mere effects of rectilinear motions and rectilinear attraction. And as Newton was quick to realize, this also implied that "the planets neither move exactly in ellipse nor revolve twice in the same orbit, so that there are as many orbits to a planet as it has revolutions" (Herivel, 301: De Motu, Version III).

Reviews

From the reviews:

"...I find Meanest Foundations and Nobler Superstructures to be an excellent resource in the history of science and particularly valuable for its recognition of Hooke's scientific style."
(Physics Today, September 2003)

"This book is very densely packed with theses, issues, new ideas, and historical and philosophical comparisons – all very well researched and thoroughly documented. … a well-written and in particular very well researched study in the history and philosophy of science of one of the most important and interesting periods in the history of Western science and in intellectual history as a whole. Students of the period and of history and philosophy of science in general will find it an important addition to the discipline’s literature." (Zvi Solow, The Jerusalem Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 54, July, 2005)


Table of contents (4 chapters)

Buy this book

eBook $119.00
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-94-017-2223-0
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $159.00
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-1-4020-0732-3
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
Softcover $159.00
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-90-481-6067-9
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Meanest Foundations and Nobler Superstructures
Book Subtitle
Hooke, Newton and the Compounding of the Celestiall Motions of the Planetts
Authors
Series Title
Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science
Series Volume
229
Copyright
2002
Publisher
Springer Netherlands
Copyright Holder
Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
eBook ISBN
978-94-017-2223-0
DOI
10.1007/978-94-017-2223-0
Hardcover ISBN
978-1-4020-0732-3
Softcover ISBN
978-90-481-6067-9
Series ISSN
0068-0346
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XIV, 252
Topics