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Mechanistic Images in Geometric FormHeinrich Hertz's 'Principles of Mechanics'$
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Jesper Lützen

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780198567370

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198567370.001.0001

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Images of nature

Images of nature

(p.83) 7 Images of nature
Mechanistic Images in Geometric Form


Oxford University Press

According to Heinrich Hertz, the aim of theoretical physics is to construct and evaluate images that can be used to predict future events. Yet Hertz seems to take it for granted that these images are intersubjective in the sense that all (educated) humans can form the same images and can describe them accurately to one another. In order for an image to serve its predicting purpose, Hertz made the following basic requirement: that the necessary consequents of the images in thought are always the images of the necessary consequents in the nature of the things pictured. This chapter discusses Hertz's concept of images of nature and compares his notions of images and signs with those of Hermann von Helmholtz. Hertz's three criteria for the evaluation of image — logical permissibility, correctness, and appropriateness — as well as his views about simplicity and distinctness are also considered.

Keywords:   images, nature, Hermann von Helmholtz, signs, logical permissibility, correctness, appropriateness, simplicity, distinctness

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