History 591 - Fall 2001

The Scientific World of Christiaan Huygens

Professor Michael S. Mahoney

(Current Agenda and Readings)

Wednesdays, 9-12

Firestone Library, C-8-L 

Week 1 (9/19): 
Themes and Agenda
An introduction to some of the themes of the seminar
Michael S. Mahoney, "The Mathematical Realm of Nature", in D.E. Garber et al.(eds.), Cambridge History of Seventeenth-Century Philosophy, Vol. I, pp. 702-55 

For reference and consultation during the term
On Huygens
Aant Elzinga, On a Research Program in Early Modern Physics (Göteborg, 1972) 
H.J.M. Bos, et al. (eds.), Studies on Christiaan Huygens (Lisse, 1980) 
Huygens et la France (Paris, 1982) 
Joella Yoder, Unrolling Time: Christiaan Huygens and the mathematization of time (Cambridge, 1988)

General Works
See syllabus for HIS 291

Week 2 (9/26): 

Reporter: Nick Popper

 Niccolò Tartaglia, The New Science, in S. Drake and I. Drabkin (eds.), The Science of Mechanics in Sixteenth Century Italy
Galileo Galilei's Notes on Motion (web document)
Galileo, Discourses and Demonstrations Concerning Two New Sciences, Day III

Jerome R. Ravetz, "Galileo and the mathematization of speed", in La mathématisation des doctrines informes (Paris, 1972), 11-32; cf.discussion of paper, ibid. 33-42 [SM Q175.xM3] 
A.G. Molland, "The atomization of motion: A facet of the Scientific Revolution", Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science 13(1982):31-54
Maurice Clavelin, "Conceptual and Technical Aspects of the Galilean Geometrization of the Motion of Heavy Bodies" in Nature Mathematized (W.R. Shea, ed.), pp. 23-50, with Shea's commentary pp 50-60. 

Background amd Additional References
Maurice Clavelin. The Natural Philosophy of Galileo: Essay on the Origins and Formation of classical Mechanics. (Boston, 1974)
Peter Damerow, Gideon Freudenthal, Peter McLaughlin, Jürgen Renn, Exploring the limits of preclassical mechanics.  A study of conceptual development in early modern science: Free fall and compounded motion in the work of Descartes, Galileo, and Beeckman
See syllabus for HIS 591, Spring '97

Week 3 (10/3):

Reporter: Gabor Katona

Descartes, The World, or Treatise on Light, and Treatise on Man
Descartes, La dioptrique (Optics), first and second discourses. 
Descartes, "On motion" (Principia philosophiae, Part II, Paragraphs 24-54; Part III, Paragraphs 56-59; Letter to Clerselier)

Damerow et al., Chap. 2 
Daniel Garber, Descartes' Metaphysical Physics (Chicago, 1992), Chaps. 7-8 (if time, Chaps. 6, 9) 

Background and Additional References
E.J. Aiton, The Vortex Theory of Planetary Motion (London, 1972)
William R. Shea, The Magic of Numbers and Motion:  The Scientific Career of René Descartes (Canton, MA, 1991)
Stephen Gaukroger, et al. (eds.), Descartes: Philosophy, Mathematics and Physics (Totowa, 1980), esp. articles by John Schuster and Alan Gabbey
John Schuster, "Descartes Agonistes: New Tales of Cartesian Natural Philosophy", Perspectives on Science 3,1(1995), 99-145 (review of Garber and Shea, along with Gaukroger's Descartes: An Intellectual Biography)

Week 4 (10/10):
Impact and centrifugal force

Reporter:  James Byrne

Huygens, "On the motion of bodies resulting from impact"
Huygens, "On centrifugal force"

Allan Gabbey, "Huygens and Mechanics", in Bos, Studies,. 166-199
Yoder, Unrolling Time, Chap. 3
Richard S. Westfall, Force in Newton's Physics, Chap. IV

Background and Additional References
Westfall, Chap. V

Week 5 (10/17): 
Pendulums, simple and compound

Reporter: Rookmin Narine

Huygens, [Determination of the Period of a Simple Pendulum], HOC.XVI.395-413, trans. M.S. Mahoney [to be distributed] 
Huygens, Horologium oscillatorium, Book IV "On the center of oscillation"

Michael S. Mahoney, "Huygens and the Pendulum: From Device to Mathematical Relation", in E. Grosholz and H. Breger (eds.), The Growth of Mathematical Knowledge (Dordrecht, 2000), pp. 17-39 
Yoder, Chap. 4

Background and Additional References
Pierre Costabel, "Isochronisme et acceleration, 1638-1687", Archives internationales d'histoire des sciences 28(1978), 3-20
Piero Ariotti, "Aspects of the Conception and Development of the Pendulum" Archive for History of Exact Sciences 8(1972), 329-410
Vernard Foley, "Besson, da Vinci, and the Evolution of The Pendulum: Some Findings and Observations", History and Technology 6 (1988), 1-43.

Week 6 (10/24):
Clocking Longitude

Reporter:  Gabor Katona

Huygens, Horologium oscillatorium (Paris, 1673), trans. Richard J. Blackwell, Christiaan Huygens' The Pendulum Clock or Geometrical Demonstration Concerning the Motion of Pendula as Applied to Clocks (Iowa State Press, 1983); for an edition and translation of the Horologium of 1658, see Ernest L. Edwardes, The Story of the Pendulum Clock (Altrincham, 1977), 60-97
"A Narrative concerning the success of Pendulum-Watches at Sea for the Longitudes", Philosophical Transactions 1(1665) 13-15.

Michael S. Mahoney, "The Determination of Time and of Longitude at Sea", in H.J.M Bos, et al, Studies on Christiaan Huygens, 234-270; and "Charting the Globe and Tracking the Heavens: Navigation and the Sciences in the Early Modern Era" (in press)
J.H. Leopold, "Christiaan Huygens and his Instrument Makers", in Ibid., 221-233 
William J.H. Andrewes, The Quest for Longitude, essays by Stimson (71), Van Helden (85), Leopold (101), Turner (115), Howse (149).

Background and Additional References
Silvio A. Bedini, The Pulse of Time: Galileo Galilei, The Determination of Longitude, and the Pendulum Clock (Florence: Leo S. Olschki, 1991) 
David S. Landes, Revolution in Time: Clocks and the Making of the Modern World (Harvard U.P., 1983)

Esthetic Intellectual Experience
 William J.H. Andrewes, The Quest for Longitude (Harvard Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments, 1996)

Week 7 (11/7):
Huygens and the Royal Society

Reporter: Nick Popper

As Hall's article, cited below, will make clear, Huygens' relations with the Royal Society not only shed light on his career but also provide a glimpse into the activities of that body during its early years.  There are two main primary sources (in English) through which to get a sense of that interaction, namely Huygens' correspondence with Oldenburg, published with translations in A.R. Hall and M.B. Hall, The Correspondence of Henry Oldenburg and the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, which is accessible both in a reprint edition in the stacks and online through JSTOR 1665-1678, 1683-1775 Rather than making a specific primary assignment, I would like you to use the references in Hall's article as pointers to both sources and to read the exchanges and articles she cites there.  Also, use the indices to the Oldenburg edition to locate other correspondence between him and Huygens not cited by Hall, as well as places in Oldenburg's correspondence with others where he refers to Huygens.  Similarly, please browse through the Phil. Trans. for these early years to get a sense of what was on the minds of the members of the Royal Society as they pursued their common interest in natural philosophy. 

Thomas Sprat, The History of the Royal Society of London, for the Improving of Natural Knowledge (London, 1667)
Thomas Birch, History of the Royal Society of London (London, 1756)

M.B. Hall, "Huygens' scientific contacts with England", in Studies on Christiaan Huygens, 66-81
Rob Iliffe, "'In the Warehouse': Privacy, Property and Priority in the Early Royal Society", History of Science 30(1992), 29-68

Background and Additional References
Martha Ornstein, The Role of Scientific Societies in the 17th Century (a old classic, still not superseded in its focus on the actual scientific activities of the Royal Society and Academy of Sciences)
Charles Webster, The Great Instauration: Science, Medicine, and Reform, 1626-1660
Stephen Shapin and Simon Schaffer, Leviathan and the Air Pump; cf. Shapin's The Social History of Truth

Week 8 (11/14):
Huygens in the Academy of Sciences

Reporter: James Byrne

Edme Mariotte, Jean Pecquet, Claude Perrault, Letters ... on the Subject of a New Discovery Concerning Vision
[Memorandum from Christiaan Huygens to Minister Colbert regarding the work of the new Académie Royale des Sciences]

Stephen Shapin and Simon Schaffer, Leviathan and the Air Pump, Chap. VI (on Huygens' replication of Boyle's vacuum pump)
Alice Stroup, "Christiaan Huygens and the Development of the Air Pump", Janus 68(1981), 129-58

Roger Hahn, "Huygens and France", in Studies on Christiaan Huygens,53-65
Roger Hahn, The Anatomy of a Scientific Institution: The Paris Academy of Sciences, 1666-1803, Chap. 1
M.S. Mahoney, "Mariotte, Edme", in Dictionary of Scientific Biography, IX, 114-22
Alice Stroup, A Company of Scientists: Botany, Patronage, and Community at the Seventeenth-Century Parisian Royal Academy of Sciences, Chaps. 1-5, 14, 15, 16.

Background and Additional References
Harcourt Brown,  Scientific Organizations in Seventeenth Century France (1620-1680)

Week 9 (11/21):
Optics and the theory of light

Reporter: Rookmin Narine

Huygens, Treatise on Light

Alan Shapiro, "Huygens' Kinematic Theory of Light", in Bos et al., Studies, 200-220
Alan Shapiro, "Huygens' 'Traité de la lumière' and Newton's 'Opticks':  Pursuing and Eschewing Hypotheses", Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London 43(1989), 223-47

Background and Additional References
 A.I. Sabra, Theories of Light from Descartes to Newton, esp. Chaps. 6-8

Week 10 (11/28):

Reporter: Gabor Katona

Newton vs. Hooke:
 Letter of Mr. Isaac Newton, ... Containing His New Theory about Light and Colors, Phil. Trans. 6(1671), 3075-3087
[Hooke's critique] in Thomas Birch, The History of the Royal Society of London, 10-15
[Hooke's account of some experiments on refractions and colors], Ibid., 52-54
Mr. Isaac Newtons Answer to Some Considerations upon His Doctrine of Light and Colors, Phil. Trans. 7(1672), 5084-5103

Isaac Newton, Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy (ed. Cajori), xvii-xxxiii, 1-28, 40-41, 398-418, 543-547
Newton, Opticks (ed. Cohen), Query 31

Sabra, Theories of Light, Chap. 9-11

Background and Additional References
R.S. Westfall, Never at Rest: A Biography of Isaac Newton (1980; cf his shorter The Life of Isaac Newton, 1993)

Week 11 (12/5):
The vortex cosmology,
Leibniz and Beyond

Reporter: James Byrne

Huygens, Discours de la cause de la pesanteur ("Discourse on the Cause of Weight", trans. Karen Bailey [xerox])
G.W. Leibniz, Philosophical Essays, ed. and trans. Roger Ariew, 117-38 ("A Specimen of Dynamics"), 245-50 ("On the Nature of Body and the Laws of Motion"), 250-56 ("On Body and Force, Against the Cartesians"), 309-12 ("Planetary Theory, from a Letter to Huygens"), 312-20 ("Against Barbaric Physics")

E.J. Aiton, The Vortex Theory of Planetary Motions, Chaps. 4, 6-9
Eric Schliesser and George E. Smith, "Huygens's 1688 Report to the Directors of the Dutch East India Company on the Measure of Longitude at Sea and Its Implications for the Non-Uniformity of Gravity", De zeventiende Eeuw 12,1(1996) [xerox copy of pre-print draft]

Background and Additional References

Week12 (12/12):
A Baconian Postlude

Reporter: Nick Popper

Francis Bacon, New Organon (for the themes of Book I,  cf. the texts in Benjamin Farrington's The Philosophy of Francis Bacon)

Antonio Perez-Ramos, Francis Bacon's Idea of Science and the Maker's Knowledge Tradition, Chaps. 1,2,5,12,13
Paolo Rossi, Francis Bacon: From Magic to Science, Chap. 1
Thomas S. Kuhn, "Mathematical vs. Experimental Traditions in the Development of Physical Science", Journal of Interdisciplinary History 7(1976), 1-31; repr. in Kuhn, The Essential Tension, Chap. 3.

Background and Additional References
Lisa Jardine and Alan Stewart,  Hostage to Fortune: The Troubled Life of Francis Bacon
Perez Zagorin, Francis Bacon