© 1992

The Invention of Physical Science

Intersections of Mathematics, Theology and Natural Philosophy Since the Seventeenth Century Essays in Honor of Erwin N. Hiebert

  • Mary Jo Nye
  • Joan L. Richards
  • Roger H. Stuewer

Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 139)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxxiv
  2. Natural Theology, Natural Philosophy, and the Certainty of Mathematics

  3. Problems of Contingency, Coherence, and Truth

  4. The Aims and Foundations of Physical Science: The Cases of Electrical Physics, Psychophysics, and Physical Chemistry

  5. Explanation and Discovery: The Claims of Chemistry, Physics, and Fortran

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 203-203
    2. Peter Galison
      Pages 225-260
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 261-278

About this book


Modern physical science is constituted by specialized scientific fields rooted in experimental laboratory work and in rational and mathematical representations. Contemporary scientific explanation is rigorously differentiated from religious interpretation, although, to be sure, scientists sometimes do the philosophical work of interpreting the metaphysics of space, time, and matter. However, it is rare that either theologians or philosophers convincingly claim that they are doing the scientific work of physical scientists and mathematicians.
The rigidity of these divisions and differentiations is relatively new. Modern physical science was invented slowly and gradually through interactions of the aims and contents of mathematics, theology, and natural philosophy since the seventeenth century. In essays ranging in focus from seventeenth-century interpretations of heavenly comets to twentieth-century explanations of tracks in bubble chambers, ten historians of science demonstrate metaphysical and theological threads continuing to underpin the epistemology and practice of the physical sciences and mathematics, even while they became disciplinary specialties during the last three centuries. The volume is prefaced by tributes to Erwin N. Hiebert, whose teaching and scholarship have addressed and inspired attention to these issues.


natural philosophy physical sciences probability science

Editors and affiliations

  • Mary Jo Nye
    • 1
  • Joan L. Richards
    • 2
  • Roger H. Stuewer
    • 3
  1. 1.University of OklahomaNormanUSA
  2. 2.Brown UniversityProvidenceUSA
  3. 3.University of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title The Invention of Physical Science
  • Book Subtitle Intersections of Mathematics, Theology and Natural Philosophy Since the Seventeenth Century Essays in Honor of Erwin N. Hiebert
  • Editors M.J. Nye
    J. Richards
    R. Stuewer
  • Series Title Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Kluwer Academic Publishers 1992
  • Publisher Name Springer, Dordrecht
  • eBook Packages Springer Book Archive
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-0-7923-1753-1
  • Softcover ISBN 978-94-010-5097-5
  • eBook ISBN 978-94-011-2488-1
  • Series ISSN 0068-0346
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XXXIV, 278
  • Number of Illustrations 0 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Philosophy of Science
    History, general
  • Buy this book on publisher's site