History of the Inductive Sciences. From the Earliest to the Present Times

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A central figure in Victorian science, William Whewell (1794-1866) held professorships in Mineralogy and Moral Philosophy at Trinity College, Cambridge, before becoming Master of the college in 1841. His mathematical textbooks, such as A Treatise on Dynamics (1823), were instrumental in bringing French analytical methods into British science. This three-volume history, first published in 1837, is one of Whewell's most famous works. Taking the 'acute, but fruitless, essays of Greek philosophy' as a starting point, it provides a history of the physical sciences that culminates with the mechanics, astronomy, and chemistry of 'modern times'. – Volume 1 studies Greek physics and metaphysics, attributing their failure to a method that derived its principles from the common use of language. It surveys the state of the physical sciences in the middle ages, and deals with the rise of 'formal' astronomy - based on observation rather than calculation - as exemplified by Copernicus. – Contents : Introduction; Preface; – Book I. History of the Greek School Philosophy, with Reference to Physical Science: 1. Prelude to the Greek School Philosophy; 2. The Greek School Philosophy; 3. Failure of the Greek School Philosophy; – Book II. History of the Physical Sciences in Ancient Greece: 1. Earliest stages of mechanics and hydrostatics; 2. Earliest stages of optics; 3. Earliest stages of harmonics; – Book III. History of Greek Astronomy: 1. Earliest stages of astronomy; 2. Prelude to the inductive epoch of Hipparchus; 3. Inductive epoch of Hipparchus; 4. Sequel to the inductive epoch of Hipparchus; – Book IV. History of Physical Science in the Middle Ages: 1. On the indistinctness of ideas of the middle ages; 2. The commentatorial spirit of the middle ages; 3. Of the mysticism of the middle ages; 4. Of the dogmatism of the middle ages; 5. Progress of the arts in the middle ages; – Book V. History of Formal Astronomy after the Stationary Period: 1. Prelude to the inductive epoch of Copernicus; 2. Induction of Copernicus. The heliocentric theory asserted on formal grounds; 3. Sequel to Copernicus. The reception and development of the Copernican theory; 4. Inductive epoch of Kepler; 5. Sequel to the epoch of Kepler. Reception, verification, and extension of the elliptical theory.