Hegel and Newtonianism pp 517-529 | Cite as

# The Early Debate Concerning Wave-Theory

Chapter

## Abstract

*1. Newton’s Principia*. In 1687 Newton published his work on the *Mathematical Principles of Natural Science* — it is thus that we may translate its Latin title. By means of the second or force law and the law of universal gravitational attraction, he was able to explain the mechanics of the solar system. It was thus that he established his fame and his authority in the exact sciences. And his fame was such, that until the end of the eighteenth century and beyond, the author himself was as revered as his works.

## Keywords

Eighteenth Century Philosophical Transaction Early Debate Elastic Fluid Rectilinear Propagation
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## Notes

- 1.In 1704 Newton also derived the sine law of refraction in his
*Opticks*, bk. I, exp. 15 and bk. II, pt. III, prop. 10.Google Scholar - 2.Hegel says Newton’s idea of a ray is barbaric,
*Encyclopedia*§ 276; MM 9.117; tr. Petry II.17,33; tr. Miller p. 92. Hegel deals with the refraction of light as the second aspect in “the relation of individualized matter to light”, o.c. § 318; MM 9.228, 230ff.; tr. Petry II.125-133; tr. Miller pp. 185-192.Google Scholar - 3.Hegel wants to remove from optics all kinds of explanations by means of corpuscles, waves and oscillations.
*Encyclopedia*§ 276, MM 9.118; tr. Petry II.19,3; tr. Miller p.93.Google Scholar - 4.Hooke, R. 1665, pp. 55-56.Google Scholar
- 5.Hooke, R. 1665, p. 57.Google Scholar
- 6.Newton C I.175.370. The letter of 1672 was published in
*Philosophical Transactions*7 (1672). Cf. what Newton writes in query twenty (1706; 28 in 1717) in his*Opticks*.Google Scholar - 7.Ziggelaar, A. 1980.Google Scholar
- 8.Hegel discusses double refraction in
*Encyclopedia*§ 319; MM 9.239-241; tr. Petry II 133-134; tr. Miller pp. 192-194.Google Scholar - 9.Huygens, C. 1690; Huygens, C. 1962.Google Scholar
- 10.Huygens, C. 1690, p. 3; Huygens, C. 1962, p. 3.Google Scholar
- 11.Footnote (c) to Newton’s letter of February 6 1672 to Henry Oldenburg, published in
*Philosophical Transactions*6 (1671/72), 3075-87. Quoted from Newton C I.106.Google Scholar - 12.Newton C I.370.Google Scholar
- 13.Halley, E. 1693.Google Scholar
- 14.Malebranche, N. 1945, Discourse xii.Google Scholar
- 15.Cantor, G.N. 1983, p. 12.Google Scholar
- 16.Malebranche, N. 1946, p. 186.Google Scholar
- 17.Malebranche, N. 1946, p. 161. Hegel accepted that the propagation of light takes time, but suggested that one should not indulge in its spectral consequences for objects in the sky at distances of many light-years.
*Encyclopedia*§ 276; MM 9.120-121; tr. Petry II.21.5; tr. Miller p. 94.Google Scholar - 18.Grimaldi, F.-M. 1665. Hegel mentions diffraction of light in
*Encyclopedia*§ 320 (Addition, section γ); MM 9.259; tr. Petry II.151,3-35; tr. Miller pp. 208-209.Google Scholar - 19.Grimaldi, F.-M. 1665, bk. I, prop. 22.Google Scholar
- 20.Stuewer, R. 1970, p. 204.Google Scholar
- 21.Cf. Hegel’s appraisal of so-called four-sided light-rays,
*Encyclopedia*§ 278; MM 9.124; tr. Petry II.23,27-40; tr. Miller p. 97.Google Scholar - 22.Cantor, G.N. 1983, p. 31. Hegel rejects the “physics of light particles” in
*Encyclopedia*§ 276; MM 9.119; tr. Petry II.17,30-18,1; tr. Miller p. 92.Google Scholar - 23.Euler, L. 1746. See also Euler, L. 1812, letters CXXXIII-CXXXVI, pp. 86-104.Google Scholar
- 24.Euler, L. 1746, ch. 1, § 3, p. 2.Google Scholar
- 25.Euler, L. 1746, p. XIV.Google Scholar
- 26.Euler, L. 1746, p. LIV.Google Scholar
- 27.Goethe, J. 1962, p. 222.Google Scholar
- 28.Euler, L. 1746, ch. 2 § 52, p. 18.Google Scholar
- 29.Euler, L. 1746, ch. 4 § 76, pp. 27-28.Google Scholar
- 30.Steffens, H. 1977, p. 104.Google Scholar
- 31.Robison, J. 1788, pp. 97-98. Quoted from Steffens, H. 1977, p. 84.Google Scholar
- 32.Steffens, H. 1977, p. 67. According to Hegel neither Newton’s theory nor the wave-theory and Euler’s ether, are of any use for knowledge concerning light:
*Encyclopedia*§ 276; MM 9.120; tr. Petry II.20,10-21; tr. Miller, p. 94.Google Scholar - 33.Young, Th. 1800, § II, p. 112 and § VI, pp. 118-119.Google Scholar
- 34.Young, Th. 1800, § X, pp. 125, 127.Google Scholar
- 35.Young, Th. 1800, § X, p. 128 and § XI, pp. 130-131. Hegel knows that “shade in light” (destructive interference?) is supposed to be a triumph and advance upon Newton in his days, but maintains that it is not physics since it is not empirical:
*Encyclopedia*§ 276 (Addition); MM 9.120; tr. Petry II.20,13-19; tr. Miller p. 94.Google Scholar - 36.Brougham, H. 1804, p. 97. Quoted from Steffens, H. 1977, p. 129.Google Scholar
- 37.Brougham, H. 1802, p. 99. Quoted from Young, Th. 1855, p. 205.Google Scholar
- 38.Malus, E. 1810.Google Scholar
- 39.Malus, E. 1810, § 54, p. 239.Google Scholar
- 40.Malus, E. 1810, § 54, p. 240. Hegel refers, in connection with the “clumsy concept” of the polarization of light by means of two mirrors, to Goethe:
*Encyclopedia*§ 278; MM 9.123-124; tr. Petry II.23,25; tr. Miller p. 97.Google Scholar - 41.
*Quarterly Review*Nov. 1809. Quoted from Young, Th. 1972, p. 233.Google Scholar - 42.Verdet, E. 1872, p. 351.Google Scholar

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