Vital Spaces, Vital Forces: Life in Renaissance and Early Modern Physics

01 January 2017 → 01 October 2017
Regional and community funding: Special Research Fund
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • Theory and methodology of philosophy
    • Philosophy
    • Other philosophy, ethics and religious studies not elsewhere classified
Project description

According to the common narrative, the early, critical development of classical physics was a turning-away from the living and retreat to the inanimate. The success of classical physics has convinced us of this narrative; my project will demonstrate that this narrative is wrong. I will show that medical and biological ideas were crucial in the formation of science’s basic presuppositions: that of a homogenous matter, force, and space whose characters are essentially mathematical. The majority of my three-year project will be dedicated to a monograph on how mathematical natural philosophy was constructed and justified within a framework where spaces, bodies and forces were vital and formative. The project will represent a major reevaluation of the most important turn in the history of modern science. Considering a wide range of authors and works, most of which remain untranslated, the project will provide a new understanding of how networks of physicians, philosophers, and astronomers used biological and medical ideas to build a new physical order.