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Reckoning with Matter
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Reckoning with Matter: Calculating Machines, Innovation, and Thinking About Thinking from Pascal to Babbage

Matthew L. Jones


This book studies mechanical calculating machines in the period before they became everyday commodities, from the attempts of Pascal in the 1640s through Babbage’s efforts in the 1820s-1840s. Through the optic of these failed technical artifacts, this books peers into diverse forms of technical life—social arrangements of practitioners, legal conceptions of the ownership of work and of ideas, philosophical conceptions of knowledge and skill. It brings to light the concrete processes of imagining, elaborating, testing, and building key components for calculating machines. Philosophers, engineer ... More

Keywords: calculating machines, seventeenth century, eighteenth century, nineteenth century, Blaise Pascal, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Charles Babbage, Charles Mahon, 3rd Earl Stanhope, artisanal knowledge, intellectual property

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2016 Print ISBN-13: 9780226411460
Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2017 DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226411637.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Matthew L. Jones, author
Columbia University