Leibniz and the Foundations of Physics

23 April 2018, 9.00 AM - 23 April 2018, 5.00 PM

Vincenzo De Risi (CNRS Paris), Eleanor Knox (KCL), Simon Saunders (Oxford), Karim Th├ębault (Bristol), Tzuchien Tho (Bristol)

University of Bristol Priory Rd Complex F Block 4F5

This workshop explores the continuing relevance of G.W. Leibniz’s physical works from historical and contemporary perspectives. Leibniz’s own well-documented motivation behind his mature physical writings was to use his discoveries in the dynamics to provide an avenue for elaborating his metaphysical ideas. Arguing not only against established Cartesianism on the Continent but also against the mechanists, and Newton (and the Newtonians) in Britain, what was at stake was the very foundations of our knowledge of physical reality.  These ideas were forged in the intertwined networks of controversy in the late 17th century but continued to factor into the development of 18th century physics despite the solidification of a “Newtonian” consensus. When so-called “classical mechanics” began to rupture in the late 19th century, Leibniz again returned onto the stage as the old prophet of new ideas: Einsteinian relativity, symmetry and algebraic topology. Contributions in this workshop will treat Leibniz not only in his context, his reception in the history of modern physics, but also his contemporary relevance to the philosophy of physics.


Session 1 (Chair: Tzuchien Tho)


Leibniz Vindicated. Twentieth-Century Interpretations of Leibniz’s Conceptions of Space and Motion as Relativity Theory

Vincenzo De Risi (CNRS Paris)


Leibniz and the Problem of Time

Karim Thébault (Bristol)

Session 2 (Chair: Karim Thébault)


Leibniz’s A Priori Demonstration of the Measure of Vis Viva

Tzuchien Tho (Bristol)


Dynamical Symmetries and Spacetime Symmetries

Eleanor Knox (KCL)

Session 3 (Chair: James Ladyman)

16:00 - 17:00

Quantum Monads

Simon Saunders (Oxford)


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