On the Shoulders of Merchants: Exchange and the Mathematical Conception of Nature in Early Modern Europe, Volume 0

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SUNY Press, 1994 - Social Science - 191 pages
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This book shows how the universal quantification of science resulted from the routinization of commercial practices that were familiar in scientist's daily lives. Following the work of Franz Borkenau and Jacob Klein in the 1930s, the book describes the rise of the mechanistic world-view as a reification of relations of exchange in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Critical of more orthodox, positivist Marxist accounts of the rise of science, it argues that commercial reckoners, in keeping with the social relations in which their activity took place, delivered a new mathematical object, "general magnitude," to the new mechanics. The book is an historical extension of the sociology of scientific knowledge and develops and refines themes found in the work of Alfred Sohn-Rethel and Gideon Freudenthal.
 

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Contents

Accounts of the Rise of Early Modern Science
1
PostWorld War II Accounts of the Rise of Science
2
Marxism Praxis and Science
8
Social Relations Value and the Mechanistic Abstraction
16
Marx The Commodity Abstraction and Mechanistic Knowledge of Nature
31
Society Thought and Historical Specification
34
Commodities Value Abstraction and Homogeneity
40
Commodity Fetishism and the Representation of Society and Nature
46
Thomas Bradwardine
96
Nicole Oresme
99
Robert Recorde
104
John Dee
109
Thomas Harriot
111
Rafael Bombelli
112
Exchange Labour Mathematics and Natural Philosophy The Social Roots of a Science of Mechanics
115
Niccolo Tartaglia
121

The Concrete Existence of Abstract Relations
50
Commerce Finance Credit and the Money Economy
53
Production Labour and LabourTime
56
Mathematical Mechanics and Abstraction
63
Ancient Mathematics Discontinuities
65
The Ontological Shift to Modern Mathematics Jacob Klein
71
Mathematics and Mechanics The Homogenization of Nature
74
Exchange Relations Commercial Arithmetic and the Foundations of Mathematical Mechanics
83
John Philoponos
84
The Early European Arithmetic and RecordKeeping Traditions
85
Galileo Galilei
123
Francois Viete
129
Rene Descartes
135
Simon Stevin
149
The Hartlib Circle and the Royal Society
154
Social Relations and the Intellectual Appropriation of Nature
157
Notes
167
References
171
Index
185
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About the author (1994)

Richard W. Hadden is Associate Professor at Saint Mary's University in Nova Scotia.

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