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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 mechanics

Images of mechanics

(p.111) 9 Images of mechanics
Mechanistic Images in Geometric Form


Oxford University Press

Having considered Heinrich Hertz's general ideas about images, this chapter discusses his evaluation of the three images of mechanics. First, the principles of mechanics according to Hertz are considered. In the Newtonian-Laplacian image, the fundamental concepts are space, time, mass, and force which are connected by Isaac Newton's three laws and d'Alembert's principle. The energetic image also rests on space, time, mass, and energy and the basic mechanical principle is William Rowan Hamilton's principle. Hertz's description of his own image of mechanics only deals with space, time, and mass. He spotted problems with permissibility of the first Newtonian-Laplacian image, but redefined them as problems of appropriateness. He had no serious doubts about its correctness. He spotted problems with both permissibility and correctness of the second energetic image but ended up redefining those also as problems of appropriateness. He considered his own image as permissible, distinguishing this as its most important merit, and the problems that he realised could be raised against its correctness, he deferred for future falsification or verification.

Keywords:   principles of mechanics, images, space, time, mass, force, permissibility, correctness, appropriateness

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