Article ID: CBB462268539

Hertz's Mechanics and a unitary notion of force (2021)


Heinrich Hertz dedicated the last four years of his life to a systematic reformulation of mechanics. One of the main issues that troubled Hertz in the customary formulation of mechanics was a ‘logical obscurity’ in the notion of force. However, it is unclear what this logical obscurity was, hence it is unclear how Hertz took himself to have avoided it. In this paper, I argue that a subtle ambiguity in Newton's original laws of motion lay at the basis of Hertz's concerns; an ambiguity which led to the development of two slightly different notions of force. I then show how Hertz avoided this ambiguity by deriving a unitary notion of force, thus dispelling the obscurity that lurked in the customary representation of mechanics.

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Authors & Contributors
Lützen, Jesper
Mulligan, Joseph F.
Hamilton, Kelly Ann
Bertoloni Meli, Domenico
Guedj, Muriel
Celeyrette, Jean
Archive for History of Exact Sciences
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Early Science and Medicine: A Journal for the Study of Science, Technology and Medicine in the Pre-modern Period
Physics in Perspective
Perspectives on Science
Revue d'Histoire des Sciences
Oxford University Press
Motion (physical)
Natural laws
Hertz, Heinrich Rudolph
Newton, Isaac
Bradwardine, Thomas
Mach, Ernst
Descartes, René
Time Periods
19th century
17th century
20th century, early
16th century

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