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Antimathematicism in Early Modern Philosophy and Science

Introduction

The seventeenth century saw many striking advances in pure mathematics and in the application of mathematics to physics. As a result, the status of mathematics rose markedly, and the expectation was established that mathematical techniques were the key to tracking fundamental truths about the natural world. Less familiar is the battery of considerations that various writers brought out to advocate limits, sometimes strict limits, on the epistemic status of mathematics and its applicability to the natural world. This more cautious perspective on the growing influence of mathematics can be called antimathematicism.

Antimathematicism

The special influence of Galileo’s famous scientific advances and his polemics in support of their philosophical significance made him the first prominent target of antimathematicism in the early seventeenth century. In his Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, he argued that mathematics was the key to the intelligibility of natural...

Related Topics

  • Mathematics
  • Mathematical physics
  • Explanation
  • Descartes
  • Spinoza
  • Hume

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Nelson, A. (2020). Antimathematicism in Early Modern Philosophy and Science. In: Jalobeanu, D., Wolfe, C. (eds) Encyclopedia of Early Modern Philosophy and the Sciences. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-20791-9_447-1

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