Light as Fluid Agency

  • Ted Underwood


A study of correlations between work and natural force might well begin in the 1820s, when G. G. Coriolis defined work mathematically. But to be gin at that point would evade an interesting historical problem. Late-eighteenth-century physicians and philosophers began to assume that human work was commensurable with a vital power diffused through nature before they had settled on an appropriate dimension of measurement for work or for vital power. This chapter investigates the motives that prompted that hasty assumption. I begin by asking how eighteenth-century natural philosophers came to view light, in particular, as a common denominator that united different kinds of agency.


Natural Philosopher Elastic Fluid Vital Power Fluid Agency Gravimetric Balance 
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© Ted Underwood 2005

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  • Ted Underwood

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