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Title: Force and its Measure
Authors: Borrelli, Arianna
Keywords: force
trading zone
Issue Date: 22-Oct-2007
Abstract: Today, one often hears people talking about many different kinds of force having little or nothing in common with each other. The notion of “force” does not constitute a subject worth of interdisciplinary discussions between philosophers, scientists, theologian and technologists. In the eighteenth and nineteenth century, instead, it was possible to debate the nature, measure and conservation of force in a general sense. There was one force: a philosophical notion with universal validity and theological significance whose manifestations and measure could be studied by experimenting with natural phenomena and man-made engines, and also by mathematical analysis.. The notion of force was a point of exchange, a “trading zone”, in which words, formulas and machines met. In this very brief, episodic sketch of early modern notions of force, I will try to show how they could be defined by philosophical-theological principles, experiment, mathematical concepts and, finally, by measurement procedures. We shall also see how the ideas of “measure” and “conservation of force” changed in the course of time.
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