CSS Colloquium - Jesper Lützen: Hertz's Theory of Mechanistic Images. A precursor of Mathematical Models?

2014.02.05 | Trine Binderup

Date Mon 28 Apr
Time 10:15 12:00
Location 1520-732

Hertz's Theory of Mechanistic Images. A precursor of Mathematical Models?

Jesper Lützen, Institute for Mathematics, University of Copenhagen 

In Die Prinzipien der Mechanik in neuem Zusammenhange Dargestellt (1894) Heinrich Hertz gave a differential geometric foundation for mechanics which was meant as a basis for all accounts of the natural world. The philosophical introduction to the book discussed the nature of such theories or images as Hertz called them. In the talk I shall analyse Hertz's notion of images. In particular I shall discuss how Hertz's own work as a physicist influenced it and how it was shaped by the particular ideas about mechanics presented in the book. I shall also discuss in how far Hertz's image theory was a precursor of the 20th century notion of a mathematical model. In particular I shall emphasize their lack of ontological commitment and connect it to previous considerations about the nature of mathematical descriptions of the natural world.

Centre for Science Studies, Department of Physics, Students, Staff, Public / media