Judith V. Grabiner,
Maclaurin and Newton: The Newtonian Style and the Authority of Mathematics.
Tirsdag, den 9. marts 2004, kl. ca. 20
Colin Maclaurin (1698-1746) was Newton's most prominent Scottish follower. From
his refutation of Berkeley's attack on Newton's calculus to the gravitational
theory of the shape of the earth, Maclaurin based his mathematical work on
Newton's. He also owed some of his early success in publication and in
job-hunting to Newton's patronage. But more important, Maclaurin worked using
what I. B. Cohen has called "the Newtonian style". This style, which involves a
particular relationship between sophisticated mathematical modeling and
empirical data, was responsible not only for Maclaurin's scientific successes
but for his ability to solve problems on other subjects, ranging from taxation
to insurance (not to mention theology). His diverse successes strengthened his
authority as a natural philosopher, the prestige of Newtonianism, and the
authority of mathematics in the Enlightenment. And the success of this style
suggests an alternative to the purely analytic approach to physics of
eighteenth-century Continental mathematicians.
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