Foundations of Chemistry

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 185–197 | Cite as

To mathematize, or not to mathematize chemistry

  • Guillermo RestrepoEmail author


By analysing a contemporary criticism to the so called “mathematical chemistry”, we discuss what we understand by mathematizing chemistry and its implications. We then pass to ponder on some positions on the subject by considering the cases of Laszlo, Venel and Diderot, opponents to the idea of mathematization of chemistry. In contrast, we analyse some scholars’ ideas on the fruitful relationship between mathematics and chemistry; here Dirac and Brown are considered. Finally, we mention that the mathematical–chemistry relationship should be considered beyond the mere aspect of whether chemistry is or not able to be mathematized. This discussion is based upon opinions by Kant and Comte, the first one having two positions on chemistry based upon mathematics and the latter mooting the idea of doing chemistry with mathematical spirit.


Mathematica chemistry Mathematics Chemistry Kant Comte 



The author thanks J. L. Villaveces (Universidad de los Andes, Colombia), D. J. Klein (Texas A&M University at Galveston, USA) and Rom Harré (Georgetown University, USA and London School of Economics, UK) for their valuable comments, ideas, and suggestions, which have been included in this manuscript. The author also thanks J. Schummer (Germany) for his valuable comments to the first drafts of this paper.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Interdisciplinary Research InstituteUniversidad de PamplonaBogotáColombia
  2. 2.Laboratorio de Química TeóricaUniversidad de PamplonaPamplonaColombia

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