Article ID: CBB198666566

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and the Origin of the Principle of Least Action – a Never Ending Story (2016)


The priority dispute between Leibniz and Newton on the invention of the calculus was just finished as another quarrel of similar vehemence occupied the scientific community. From the middle of the 18th century on, scholars and historians of science intensively discussed the question, if Leibniz, the great german polyhistor, or Maupertuis, the president of the Berlin Academy of Science under the governance of Frederic the Great, has formulated the principle of least action for the first time. Most of them have voted for the one or the other, and the discussion is not yet finished. In the following survey the relevant papers of Leibniz and Maupertuis will be analyzed, and it will be demonstrated that a definitive and final answer to the priority question is impossible, because it depends on the methodological strategies of the historians as well as on the understanding of the principle itself.

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Authors & Contributors
Panza, Marco
Costabel, Pierre
Rioja, Ana
Fehér, Marta
Pulte, Helmut
Engfer, Hans-Jürgen
Llull: Revista de la Sociedad Española de Historia de las Ciencias y de las Técnicas
International Studies in the Philosophy of Science
Revue d'Histoire des Sciences
Notes and Records: The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science
Coincidentia: Zeitschrift für europäische Geistesgeschichte
Early Science and Medicine: A Journal for the Study of Science, Technology and Medicine in the Pre-modern Period
Variational principles
Mathematical physics
Motion (physical)
Maupertuis, Pierre Louis Moreau de
Euler, Leonhard
Newton, Isaac
Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm von
König, Samuel
Galilei, Galileo
Time Periods
18th century
17th century
19th century
20th century, early

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