Foundations of Science

, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 1-10

First online:

Script and Symbolic Writing in Mathematics and Natural Philosophy

  • Maarten Van DyckAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy and Moral Science, Ghent University Email author 
  • , Albrecht HeefferAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy and Moral Science, Ghent University

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


We introduce the question whether there are specific kinds of writing modalities and practices that facilitated the development of modern science and mathematics. We point out the importance and uniqueness of symbolic writing, which allowed early modern thinkers to formulate a new kind of questions about mathematical structure, rather than to merely exploit this structure for solving particular problems. In a very similar vein, the novel focus on abstract structural relations allowed for creative conceptual extensions in natural philosophy during the scientific revolution. These preliminary reflections are meant to set the stage for the following contributions in this volume.


Symbolic writing Algebra Scientific revolution