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séminaire Histoire et Philosophie de la Physique

Raisonner avec les diagrammes

Nous aurons le plaisir d'accueillir Carla Rita Palemerino (Radboud University), « Tam verba quam diagramma : A Visual History of the Fortune and Misfortune of Galileo’s and Descartes’s Theories of the Tides  » - Christoph Lüthy (Radboud University), «Why Was the Timeline Invented so Late? »


In his influential Geographia generalis (1650), Bernard Varenius discussed Descartes’s explanation of the ebb and flow of the sea, pointing out that “both his words and his diagram” failed to agree with the observed phenomena. This double criticism captures the attitude of several early-modern authors well, who in commenting, criticizing, defending, or teaching Galileo’s and Descartes’s respective explanations of the tides paid particular attention to the accompanying diagrams. This lecture will document how these early-modern authors reproduced, modified, reinterpreted, or suppressed Galileo’s and Descartes’s original diagrams of the tides, in order to emphasize, solve, or hide the evident mismatch between the explanans and explananda.

Christoph Lüthy (Radboud University), «Why Was the Timeline Invented so Late? »


We are all used to the representation of time as a horizontal line, above which functions or events are mapped. To us, it seems natural to think of time as the baseline, with 'things' happening in time. Maybe surprisingly, however, this convention only arose in the eighteenth century. This lecture will explain which 'obstacle épistemologique' (Bachelard) prevented the timeline from originating earlier, and which factors -- in time measurement, physical theory and metaphysics -- eventually led to its introduction.