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Newton and Empiricism$
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Zvi Biener and Eric Schliesser

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199337095

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199337095.001.0001

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Living Force at Leiden

Living Force at Leiden

De Volder, ‘s Gravesande, and the Reception of Newtonianism

Chapter:
(p.207) 8 Living Force at Leiden
Source:
Newton and Empiricism
Author(s):

Tammy Nyden

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199337095.003.0009

This chapter examines the work of two physics professors at the University of Leiden: Burchard de Volder and Willem J. ’s Gravesande. Both are responsible for innovations in pedagogy that emphasize experiment: de Volder was the first professor to demonstrate experiments in his classroom and created the Leiden Physics Theatre for that purpose; Gravesande taught in that same theatre and provided students with the first textbook in experimental physics. While both emphasize experiment, they differ in epistemological commitments. De Volder, a Cartesian, demonstrates experiments to inspire his young students to take on the task of constructing science from first principles. ’s Gravesande, a Newtonian, teaches his students how to use experiments to gain reliable information. This chapter studies their positions in the vis viva controversy in order to understand the influence Locke’s epistemology had on eighteenth-century physics, particularly on the Dutch reception of Newton.

Keywords:   Isaac Newton, John Locke, Burchard de Volder, Willem J. ’s Gravesande, vis viva, experiment, epdagogy, experimental physics, Cartesianism

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