Article ID: CBB065777464

Between Kepler and Newton: Hooke’s ‘principles of congruity and incongruity’ and the naturalization of mathematics (2019)


Robert Hooke’s development of the theory of matter-as-vibration provides coherence to a career in natural philosophy which is commonly perceived as scattered and haphazard. It also highlights aspects of his work for which he is rarely credited: besides the creative speculative imagination and practical-instrumental ingenuity for which he is known, it displays lucid and consistent theoretical thought and mathematical skills. Most generally and importantly, however, Hooke’s ‘Principles … of Congruity and Incongruity of bodies’ represent a uniquely powerful approach to the most pressing challenge of the New Science: legitimizing the application of mathematics to the study of nature. This challenge required reshaping the mathematical practices and procedures; an epistemological framework supporting these practices; and a metaphysics which could make sense of this epistemology. Hooke’s ‘Uniform Geometrical or Mechanical Method’ was a bold attempt to answer the three challenges together, by interweaving mathematics through physics into metaphysics and epistemology. Mathematics, in his rendition, was neither an abstract and ideal structure (as it was for Kepler), nor a wholly-flexible, artificial human tool (as it was for Newton). It drew its power from being contingent on the particularities of the material world.

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Authors & Contributors
McCullough-Benner, Colin
Sacco, Francesco Giuseppe
Wallis, Patrick
Schlote, Karl-Heinz
Sacco, Francesco G.
Porter, Theodore M.
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Science in Context
Revue des Questions Scientifiques
Physis: Rivista Internazionale di Storia della Scienza
Llull: Revista de la Sociedad Española de Historia de las Ciencias y de las Técnicas
Galilæana: Journal of Galilean Studies
Verlag Harri Deutsch
Oxford University Press
Kluwer Academic
Ashgate Publishing
Mathematics and its relationship to science
Natural philosophy
Mathematics and its relationship to nature
Mechanism; mechanical philosophy
Hooke, Robert
Newton, Isaac
Boyle, Robert
Prandtl, Ludwig
More, Henry
Lodwick, Francis
Time Periods
17th century
Early modern
18th century
20th century
19th century
Great Britain
Royal Society of London
Jesuits (Society of Jesus)

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