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Creatively UndecidedToward a History and Philosophy of Scientific Agency$
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Menachem Fisch

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226514482

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226514659.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 29 March 2020

Peacock’s Impact

Peacock’s Impact

(p.198) Chapter Seven Peacock’s Impact
Creatively Undecided

Menachem Fisch

University of Chicago Press

The chapter describes how four major figures responded to the Treatise: Augustus DeMorgan, William Rowan Hamilton, the young and short-lived D. F. Gregory, and Peacock's Trinity colleague, William Whewell. All four, as we shall see, treated it as a major contribution to be seriously reckoned with, and all to some extent misread it in the light of their own perspectives. And all four responded differently in ways that combined to herald in a new and essentially formalistic era in British mathematics, much earlier than in German or France. The final section describes the transformation of Peacock's own thinking as a result, as is evident in the 2nd edition of his work published too late to be effective, 15 years later. It is left to others to assess the lasting worth of the framework transition set in motion by Peacock's Treatise, which is presented here as a case-study of the kind of creative indecision, its sources and possible impact that the book argues is the key to understanding how framework transitions can be rational.

Keywords:   George Peacock, Augustus DeMorgan, W. R. Hamilton, mathematical formalism

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