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A Constructivist View of Newton’s Mechanics

Solari, H. G. and Natiello, M. A. LU (2018) In Foundations of Science 24(2).
Abstract

In the present essay we attempt to reconstruct Newtonian mechanics under the guidance of logical principles and of a constructive approach related to the genetic epistemology of Piaget and García (Psychogenesis and the history of science, Columbia University Press, New York, 1989). Instead of addressing Newton’s equations as a set of axioms, ultimately given by the revelation of a prodigious mind, we search for the fundamental knowledge, beliefs and provisional assumptions that can produce classical mechanics. We start by developing our main tool: the no arbitrariness principle, that we present in a form that is apt for a mathematical theory as classical mechanics. Subsequently, we introduce the presence of the observer, analysing then... (More)

In the present essay we attempt to reconstruct Newtonian mechanics under the guidance of logical principles and of a constructive approach related to the genetic epistemology of Piaget and García (Psychogenesis and the history of science, Columbia University Press, New York, 1989). Instead of addressing Newton’s equations as a set of axioms, ultimately given by the revelation of a prodigious mind, we search for the fundamental knowledge, beliefs and provisional assumptions that can produce classical mechanics. We start by developing our main tool: the no arbitrariness principle, that we present in a form that is apt for a mathematical theory as classical mechanics. Subsequently, we introduce the presence of the observer, analysing then the relation objective–subjective and seeking objectivity going across subjectivity. We take special care of establishing the precedence among all contributions to mechanics, something that can be better appreciated by considering the consequences of removing them: (a) the consequence of renouncing logic and the laws of understanding is not being able to understand the world, (b) renouncing the early elaborations of primary concepts such as time and space leads to a dissociation between everyday life and physics, the latter becoming entirely pragmatic and justified a-posteriori (because it is convenient), (c) changing our temporary beliefs has no real cost other than effort. Finally, we exemplify the present approach by reconsidering the constancy of the velocity of light. It is shown that it is a result of Newtonian mechanics, rather than being in contradiction with it. We also indicate the hidden assumption that leads to the (apparent) contradiction.

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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
epub
subject
keywords
Central forces, Energy conservation, Genetic epistemology, Law of inertia, Laws of nature, Newtonian mechanics, No arbitrariness principle, Objective versus subjective description
in
Foundations of Science
volume
24
issue
2
publisher
Kluwer
external identifiers
  • scopus:85057747027
ISSN
1233-1821
DOI
10.1007/s10699-018-9573-z
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
3f67a2a4-a5f3-421c-8ef4-201c1ae7a321
date added to LUP
2018-12-21 11:53:12
date last changed
2019-05-24 19:25:19
@article{3f67a2a4-a5f3-421c-8ef4-201c1ae7a321,
  abstract     = {<p>In the present essay we attempt to reconstruct Newtonian mechanics under the guidance of logical principles and of a constructive approach related to the genetic epistemology of Piaget and García (Psychogenesis and the history of science, Columbia University Press, New York, 1989). Instead of addressing Newton’s equations as a set of axioms, ultimately given by the revelation of a prodigious mind, we search for the fundamental knowledge, beliefs and provisional assumptions that can produce classical mechanics. We start by developing our main tool: the no arbitrariness principle, that we present in a form that is apt for a mathematical theory as classical mechanics. Subsequently, we introduce the presence of the observer, analysing then the relation objective–subjective and seeking objectivity going across subjectivity. We take special care of establishing the precedence among all contributions to mechanics, something that can be better appreciated by considering the consequences of removing them: (a) the consequence of renouncing logic and the laws of understanding is not being able to understand the world, (b) renouncing the early elaborations of primary concepts such as time and space leads to a dissociation between everyday life and physics, the latter becoming entirely pragmatic and justified a-posteriori (because it is convenient), (c) changing our temporary beliefs has no real cost other than effort. Finally, we exemplify the present approach by reconsidering the constancy of the velocity of light. It is shown that it is a result of Newtonian mechanics, rather than being in contradiction with it. We also indicate the hidden assumption that leads to the (apparent) contradiction.</p>},
  author       = {Solari, H. G. and Natiello, M. A.},
  issn         = {1233-1821},
  keyword      = {Central forces,Energy conservation,Genetic epistemology,Law of inertia,Laws of nature,Newtonian mechanics,No arbitrariness principle,Objective versus subjective description},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {2},
  publisher    = {Kluwer},
  series       = {Foundations of Science},
  title        = {A Constructivist View of Newton’s Mechanics},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10699-018-9573-z},
  volume       = {24},
  year         = {2018},
}