Text and Context in Maxwell’s Electromagnetic Theory

  • Daniel M. Siegel
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 167)


It is a common observation that the considerable effort invested in historical and philosophical study of the work of James Clerk Maxwell in electromagnetic theory has not been handsomely repaid: the effort seems not to have been cumulative, generating rather more questions than answers. Characteristically, trenchantly — and perhaps a bit extravagantly — Paul Forman has “described the [Maxwell] enterprise as a vortex in a draining sink that continually sweeps in new intellects and new ideas, which just as continually vanish.”1 (The allusion is to Maxwell’s vortex theory of electricity and magnetism;2 I shall have more to say both about allusions in various kinds of discourse and about Maxwell’s vortex theory.)


Science Discipline Electromagnetic Theory Displacement Current Pair Innovation Physical Line 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel M. Siegel
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of the History of ScienceUniversity of WisconsinUSA

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