Published online by Cambridge University Press: 14 January 2022
This chapter looks at the mathematization of the study of nature by focusing on how practical mathematicians from the sixteenth century onward understood mathematics as primarily devoted to solving problems through mathematical construction. This constructive understanding of the nature of mathematics is then related to the double movement of physicalizing mathematics (giving physical interpretations to mathematical constructions) and mathematizing physics (understanding physics as basically involving the solution of problems). The work of seventeenth-century thinkers like Galileo, Descartes, and Mersenne is used to further illustrate these ideas, which led to the establishment of mathematical physics as characterized by its problem-solving nature.
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