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The Social Position and Intellectual Identity of the Renaissance Mathematician-Physicist Giovanni Battista Benedetti: A Case Study in the Socio-Political History of Mechanics

  • Pietro D. OmodeoEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science book series (BSPS, volume 270)

Abstract

The scientific work of Giovanni Battista Benedetti, one of the founding fathers of modern mechanics, is an appropriate test case for socio-political history of science. It can help us to address the tension between the social position and intellectual identity of Renaissance scholars who formed the archetype for modern scientists. This chapter deals with the manner in which socio-political coordinates informed Benedetti’s science as far as its 1) demarcation, 2) content, 3) form, and 4) justification are concerned. With social coordinates, I refer to the institutional setting involving Benedetti’s role as a courtier and thus to his function as a court mathematician which, in turn, was linked to the wider socio-economic interests of a Renaissance territorial state. With cultural coordinates, I refer to Benedetti’s intellectual identity as a mathematician as well as his political identification with the wider interests of the Savoy ruling class. The polarity of function and identity constitutes the hermeneutic instrument for my interpretation of Benedetti’s science. Such a dialectic of position and identity should serve as a guide for a non-reductionist socio-cultural history of science.

Keywords

Socio-political history of mechanics Social position of the Renaissance scientist Political identity of the Renaissance scientist Science and the court Giovanni Battista Benedetti Renaissance Turin 

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, ERC EarlyModernCosmologyVeniceItaly

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