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I'm mostly interested in the degree of mathematisation with which physics was taught. Intuitively, I believe to recall that Europe has had a long tradition of mathematical physics, while physics higher education in the U.S. has generally been seen as less mathematical and more based on intuition (as an illustration, my intuition on the difference may be summed up as the traditions which P. Dirac or F. Hund followed vs. the one of R. Feynman or M. Gell-Mann). How mathematically has physics (esp. theoretical physics) been taught at U.S. universities throughout the 20th century?, i.e has the education been closer to mathematical physics or phenomenological theoretical physics?

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  • $\begingroup$ for 19th century, cf. Jungnickel & McCormmach's The Second Physicist: On the History of Theoretical Physics in Germany $\endgroup$ – Geremia May 6 at 21:03
  • $\begingroup$ I don't believe there is any such word, nor is your assessment accurate. Even when there wasn't a detailed mathematical description, the advances were based on experiment and detailed descriptions, not 'intuition." $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft May 7 at 12:11
  • $\begingroup$ You use 'intuitively' and 'intuition' in a variety of different meanings above. Perhaps you could clarify exactly what you mean. $\endgroup$ – Jon Custer May 7 at 20:26
  • $\begingroup$ "intuition" is a very suspect word, and it can refer to the ability the human mind sometimes has to intuit that concepts make (or don't make) logical sense. It can also refer to a set of unexamined tenets, ideological views, or tacit knowledge held by the speaker. Mathematisation has occured in American academia (physics and economics especially) largely because anti-communist and anti-secular themes are strongest in American society, and the general desire not to provide academics with the facility to exposit (and thus potentially challenge) the workings of their own society. $\endgroup$ – Steve May 11 at 14:14

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