Společnost pro dějiny věd a techniky
Society for the History of Sciences and Technology

Abstracts of Papers

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Dějiny věd a techniky, No. 4, Vol. LII (2019)


DVT 194, 167
Konkurz 1804: Bolzano a matematika v Českých zemích konce 18. století
Jan Makovský

Competition 1804: Bolzano and mathematics in the Czech lands at the end of the 18th century.
In 1804 the chair for elementary mathematics at Charles- Ferdinand University became vacant as a result of the retirement of Stanislav Vydra. The examination, in which only Bernard Bolzano and Ladislav Jandera took part, consisted of a written and an oral part. The chair went to Jandera, while Bolzano became professor of “religious doctrine”. This paper examines the context, the answers of both candidates and the outcome of the competition, based on a number of related papers preserved in the Czech National Archives in Prague. Additionally, we present the Czech translation of Bolzano’s written answer which is published here for the first time.

Keywords: History of eighteenth century mathematics • History of nineteenth century mathematics • Bolzano • Jandera • mathematical examination • Prague university

The article represents mainly an introduction to the Czech translation of a manuscript containing Bernard Bolzano’s examination which he wrote in order to become professor of elementary mathematics at Prague University. This examination took place in October 1804, and consisted of a written and an oral part. Only two candidates took part in it: Bernard Bolzano and Ladislav Jandera. The latter won. The committee asked the candidates three questions: to find the formula of the surface and the volume of a sphere, to find the formula which determines measures the speed of water filling a tank, and to explain the proof of the law of the lever. We analyze Bolzano’s answers, especially to the first question, in light of his later reflections on the foundations of mathematics. This document represents an important source to understand both the evolution of Bernard Bolzano’s mathematical thought and, more generally, an important source on the practice of teaching in early 19th Century Bohemia. In order to understand it properly, we propose an analysis of archival documents related to the circumstances of the competition as well as a possible explanation of a rather surprising outcome that deeply influenced Bolzano’s historical image as well as the way mathematics might have followed.

Author’s address:
Filosofický ústav a Centrum pro teoretická studia
Společné pracoviště UK a AV ČR
Husova 4, 110 00 Praha 1

DVT 194, 208
Epigeneze, nástup preformismu a recepce aristotelismu v raném novověku
Tereza Liepoldová – Roman Figura

Epigenesis, the emergence of preformism and the reception of Aristotelianism in the early modern times.
The paper focuses on the exploration of the development of embryo with early modern thinkers. The examples of Girolamo Fabrici d’Acquapendente and William Harvey capture the ways in which the return to Aristotelian legacy in biology influenced their thoughts about living creatures. Further, we demonstrate how this legacy was modified by authors of future generations, Marcello Malpighi and Jan Swammerdam, who opposed the tradition represented by Fabrici and Harvey and even Aristotle himself and how they themselves contributed to the emerging debate on epigenesis and preformationism.

Keywords: Epigenesis • preformism • William Harvey • Girolamo Fabrici d’Acquapendente • Jan Swammerdam • Marcello Malpighi • Jakob Ruf • aristotelism • fetal chick development

In the early modern times, the theme of reproduction and the development of the embryo itself was very controversial. In the paper, the authors in the first place set out to show in what ways the “new reading” of Aristotle, as developed by the Padua medical school, influenced the debates on the origin and development of life. Through an analysis of the writings of the Paduan anatomist Girolamo Fabrici d’Acquapendente and his pupil, the English physician William Harvey, the authors show how both thinkers incline towards the epigenetic theory of the development of the embryo on the basis of their observations of the fetal chick development, which had been done already by Aristotle himself, and how they develop their work in the Aristotelian tradition. By the motto of his treatise on the reproduction of animals ex ovo omnia, Harvey further presents a completely new thesis, that all living creatures, including humans, originate in the female egg. For the debates in embryology, the second half of 17th century presented a relatively crucial watershed. The introduction of microscope technology, Harvey’s purported discovery of the egg and the subsequent discovery of the sperm by Antoni van Leeuwenhoek broadened the imagined bouquet of embryology theories. Epigenetic theories developed in the Aristotelian spirit, as presented by Fabrici or Harvey, were overshadowed by various forms of preformism or theories of emboîtement. The authors of the study show, on the basis of an analysis of the writings of selected authors – especially Marcello Malpighi and Jan Swammerdam – how in the second half of the 17th century, the debates about the theme of reproduction shifted (among other things also in reaction to the fascination by mathematics and microscopy) and how they on the contrary consciously or subconsciously drew from the older Aristotelian tradition. For many researchers who promoted preformistic and mechanistic view on the living creatures, Aristotelian biology remained and important source of inspiration, although they (often only on the surface) opposed it. The authors of the paper also tried to show that the introduction of a new technology does not necessarily have to lead to a deeper understanding of processes in nature.

Authors’ address:
Katedra filosofie a dějin přírodních věd PřF UK
Viničná 7, 127 00 Praha 2


DVT 194, 228 Jak jsem odhaloval periodickou geologickou časovou tabulku
Radan Květ

How I was formulating the periodical geologial scale.
In the article, the author summarizes with hindsight his journey towards the formulation of a geologic time scale, in which he gradually summarised his knowledge from various fields into a coherent result.

Key words: history of geology • periodical geological time table • planetary equidistant rupture systems

In this article, in form of a succinct review, the author explains with hindsight the origins of the periodic geologic time scale, which he formulated over the course of several decades, namely between 1964 and 1988. The geology table appears to be periodical in long time intervals. These are regular intervals that have not yet been taken into account when drawing the individual geo-tectonic epochs. The author further shows that in stratigraphy, there are cycles of different lengths, and these are not only thousand-year-long cycles, but also cycles of 600 million years and longer.

Author’s address:
Babáka 7
612 00 Brno

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