In this stimulating investigation, Gideon Freudenthal has linked social history with the history of science by formulating an interesting proposal: that the supposed influence of social theory may be seen as actual through its co- herence with the process of formation of physical concepts. The reinterpre- tation of the development of science in the seventeenth century, w widely influential, receives at Freudenthal's hand its most persuasive statement, most significantly because of his attention to the theoretical form which is charac- teristic. of classical Newtonian mechanics. He pursues the sources of the parallels that may be ted between that mechanics and the dominant philosophical systems and social theories of the time; and in a fascinating development Freudenthal shows how a quite precise method - as he descriptively labels it, the 'analytic-synthetic method' - which underlay the Newtonian form of theoretical argument, was due to certain interpretive premisses concerning particle mechanics. If he is right, these depend upon a particular stage of con- ceptual achievement in the theories of both society and nature; further, that the conceptual was generalized philosophically; but, strikingly, Freudenthal shows that this concept-formation itself was linked to the specific social relations of the times of Newton and Hobbes.
Date of Publication
Science: General & Reference
Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science