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I read a book a while ago about the history of physics in the renaissance, which treated it as an alternation between physical-causal descriptions (eg. inertia obtains because air molecules are pushed around an object and circle back around to push it in turn) and law-based descriptions (Newton's first law). It was a fairly thin volume.

Is my description sufficient to locate this specific book? Thanks.

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  • $\begingroup$ No. See e.g. Allen Debus (1978), Man and nature in the Renaissance and Charles webster, From Paracelsus to Newton: Magic and the Making of Modern Science (1982). $\endgroup$ – Mauro ALLEGRANZA Jan 7 '17 at 17:07
  • $\begingroup$ No, there are myriads of books in the history and philosophy of science which might fit your description, e.g., Da Vinci was an early Renaissance physicist. Although not strictly Renaissance era, the references I mention here might help. I'm voting to close this question because it's too broad (not specific enough). $\endgroup$ – Geremia Jan 7 '17 at 18:42
  • $\begingroup$ "inertia obtains because air molecules are pushed around an object and circle back around to push it in turn" Are you referring to Le Sage's theory of gravitation or the Aristotelian epipolic theory (that gravitational effects are do to interactions with only the surface of the gravitating bodies)? $\endgroup$ – Geremia Jan 7 '17 at 18:47
  • $\begingroup$ See also circa §10 ff. of the encyclopedia article by Duhem, P. (1911): History of Physics. $\endgroup$ – Geremia Jan 7 '17 at 18:51
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks, this discussion did in fact point me to my book. It was The Construction of Modern Science by Richard Westfall. Also I think I was trying to describe the Cartesian idea of inertia, but I probably got it wrong. Anyway case closed! $\endgroup$ – theforemancrew Jan 8 '17 at 18:05
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Found it. The Construction of Modern Science by Richard Westfall.

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