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A Final StoryScience, Myth, and Beginnings$
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Nasser Zakariya

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226476124

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226500737.001.0001

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The Many Faces of Force and the Mutability of Energy

The Many Faces of Force and the Mutability of Energy

Chapter:
(p.87) Chapter Three The Many Faces of Force and the Mutability of Energy
Source:
A Final Story
Author(s):

Nasser Zakariya

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226500737.003.0004

This chapter introduces discussion of nineteenth-century discourse on force and energy relating to new conceptions of Herschelian natural history, to visions of “final theories” and “final stories.” The transition from conceptions of unity founded on the idea of force to newer theoretical conceptions of unity founded on the idea of energy and its convertibility—changing in turn the understanding of force—demonstrates how the representation of unity in nature could come to be expressed by conservation of energy and by a unity of forces, principles not at first easily distinguished and which in the process of their articulation reconfigured the possibility and limits of universal history. Deliberations of William Robert Grove, T. H. Huxley, William Thomson, P. G. Tait, John Tyndall, and Hermann von Helmholtz relied on and reshaped past universal historical and synthetic thought. Their collective work and disputes framed debates ranging from whether education and political policy should involve more natural philosophy, to what history of the world was possible and which disciplines established principles fundamental to its articulation.

Keywords:   final story, final theory, unity of forces, conservation of energy, entropy, William Robert Grove, T. H. Huxley, William Thomson, Hermann von Helmholtz, P. G. Tait

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