The Analytic Turn – Uses of Mathematics in Theory and Experiment During the Industrial Revolution

October 8-9, 2014, Berlin, Germany

Workshop at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, October 8 and 9, 2014.

The subproject “The Finale of Antiquity” of the Collaborative Research Group “Transformations of Antiquity” deals with the transformation of antique concepts in mathematics, mechanics and theory of heat after the rise of classical physics in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in the interplay of theory and praxis. The project analyzes the tension between the survival of antique forms of knowledge and the idea that antique traditions are not relevant anymore for a modern epoch characterized by radical innovations in knowledge, methods, resources and institutions. It is assumed that this transformation had effects for both the world-view in general (through subsequent revisions of mechanical natural philosophy) and the practical mechanical knowledge (especially in the use of resources). For further information, see

The workshop will focus on the question how the introduction of mathematical analysis and analytic mechanics has impacted the development of science and technology in the context of the Industrial Revolution. When and how did the new analytic methods introduced in the wake of Newtonian Mechanics get applied to other natural sciences and technology? How did the mathematization of science affect experimental practices and the relation between practical problems and theoretical research questions? How did technological progress and changing modes of production during the Industrial Revolution challenge the traditional theoretical frameworks and encourage new fields of research? How did these transformations affect reflections about scientific methodology and the traditional dominance of Aristotelian logic and metaphysics in this regard? How was traditional scientific knowledge established from antiquity until the scientific revolution integrated into these new forms of mathematical science?


Posted: June 13, 2014