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Thinking with Objects

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Thinking with Objects

The Transformation of Mechanics in the Seventeenth Century

Thinking with Objects offers a fresh view of the transformation that took place in mechanics during the 17th century. By giving center stage to objects—levers, inclined planes, beams, pendulums, springs, and falling and projected bodies—Domenico Bertoloni Meli provides a unique and comprehensive portrayal of mechanics as practitioners understood it at the time.

Bertoloni Meli reexamines such major texts as Galileo’s Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences, Descartes’ Principles of Philosophy, and Newton’s Principia, and in them finds a reliance on objects that has escaped proper understanding. From Pappus of Alexandria to Guidobaldo dal Monte, Bertoloni Meli sees significant developments in the history of mechanical experimentation, all of them crucial for understanding Galileo. Bertoloni Meli uses similarities and tensions between dal Monte and Galileo as a springboard for exploring the revolutionary nature of seventeenth-century mechanics.

Examining objects helps us appreciate the shift from the study to the practice of mechanics and challenges artificial dichotomies among practical and conceptual pursuits, mathematics, and experiment.