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Concepts of Force Paperback – Jan 20 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; New edition edition (Feb. 17 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 048640689X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486406893
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 13.7 x 1.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 318 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #420,371 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
An excelent historical review on the concept of force! Sept. 7 2013
By nec05 - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book will give you an excellent account on how the human understanding on the concept of force evolved with time. In the process, you will improve your own understanding on what force is and what is not.
For some reason, the book has many quotes in french or other languages with no translation. However, the paragraphs around those passages help understand the meaning of it.
I would say this book is meant for physicists or engineers that appreciate the historical an philosophical evolution of their fields.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
On Concepts of Force May 16 2013
By Lawrence Horwitz - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Max Jammer's books are characterized by a formidable skill of presentation of complex subjects in science, always built on a sound understanding of mathematics and the technical aspects of his subject, but readily accessible to the interested reader. This is one of the most fundamental of his works, and very rewarding reading.
The only history of its kind Oct. 6 2015
By Jordan Bell - Published on
Format: Paperback
As a mathematician, when I taught myself some physics related to Hamiltonian systems I couldn't get a satisfying idea of what force was. If we take distance, time, and mass as primitive concepts that we do not define, Newton's second law seemed to be a definition of the word force rather than a connection between an existing concept of force and the concepts of mass and acceleration. If you have had similar uncertainty about what force is, you will enjoy reading this book.

In the first chapter, Jammer writes that force was "taken originally in analogy to human will power, spiritual influence, or muscular effort", and that "the concept became projected into inanimate objects as a power dwelling in physical things." Whether force appears in physical theories, it may be an innate way of thinking for humans; for this see perhaps Piaget's The Child's Conception of Physical Causality.

We find reading Jammer's book that force is commonly thought of as a cause. Bertrand Russell says in his 1912 "On the notion of cause" that, "All philosophers, of every school, imagine that causation is one of the fundamental axioms or postulates of science, yet, oddly enough, in advanced sciences such as gravitational astronomy, the word 'cause' never occurs." For the history of causality in physical science see the medievalist William A. Wallace's two volume "Causality and Scientific Explanation" and Mario Bunge's Causality and Modern Science: Third Revised Edition.

My only complaint is that Jammer says little about statics and variational principles. For statics, probably the best places to go are Duhem's The Origins of Statics: The Sources of Physical Theory (Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science) (Volume 123) and Moody and Clagett's "The Medieval Science of Weights", and for variational principles see Lanczos The Variational Principles of Mechanics (Dover Books on Physics); Lanczos is mostly a textbook but with historical remarks, and I do not know a better book for a mathematically detailed history of variational principles. The writer best known for clarifying the primitive notions used in physics is Ernst Mach, and his best known work is The Science of Mechanics: A Critical and Historical Account of Its Development; this work is referred to many times by Jammer.