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The Force in Things

An Introduction to Dynamical Philosophy

Status: in progress

Synopsis: Dynamical philosophy is the philosophy of Nature as an active system. It is also the foundation of the most fundamental part of natural science—dynamics, the theory of physical force. Given how important dynamics is to our scientific understanding of Nature, it is surprising that so few books have been written about its philosophical foundations and significance for other fields of inquiry. The present work seeks to explain this neglect and improve on earlier attempts to grasp the meaning of dynamical theory. Here it is contended that the central dynamical concept of physical force has its ultimate origin not in the muscular sensations associated with push and pull, as some have supposed, but in the perceived mental springs of human action: in the affections (desire and averson) on the one hand, and in intelligence or reason on the other. Dynamics, it is concluded, and thus physics generally, have a psychological rather than a physiological basis, a result with far-reaching consequences for various scientific and philosophical problems, including the problem of mind itself. In developing these ideas the author both introduces dynamical philosophy and defends it against its principal rival, mathematical philosophy, according to which physics is just applied mathematics and as such has no need of dynamical concepts.

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