Reckoning With Matter: Calculating Machines, Innovation, And Thinking About Thinking From Pascal To…

Hardcover | November 29, 2016

byMatthew L. Jones

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From Blaise Pascal in the 1600s to Charles Babbage in the first half of the nineteenth century, inventors struggled to create the first calculating machines. All failed—but that does not mean we cannot learn from the trail of ideas, correspondence, machines, and arguments they left behind.
 
In Reckoning with Matter, Matthew L. Jones draws on the remarkably extensive and well-preserved records of the quest to explore the concrete processes involved in imagining, elaborating, testing, and building calculating machines. He explores the writings of philosophers, engineers, and craftspeople, showing how they thought about technical novelty, their distinctive areas of expertise, and ways they could coordinate their efforts. In doing so, Jones argues that the conceptions of creativity and making they exhibited are often more incisive—and more honest—than those that dominate our current legal, political, and aesthetic culture.
 

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From Blaise Pascal in the 1600s to Charles Babbage in the first half of the nineteenth century, inventors struggled to create the first calculating machines. All failed—but that does not mean we cannot learn from the trail of ideas, correspondence, machines, and arguments they left behind.   In Reckoning with Matter, Matthew L. Jones d...

Matthew L. Jones is the James R. Barker Professor of Contemporary Civilization in the Department of History at Columbia University and the author of The Good Life in the Scientific Revolution, also published by the University of Chicago Press.  

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:336 pages, 9 × 6 × 1 inPublished:November 29, 2016Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022641146X

ISBN - 13:9780226411460

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Introduction
1          Carrying Tens: Pascal, Morland, and the Challenge of Machine Calculation           
First Carry           Babbage and Clement Mechanize Table Making 
2          Artisans and Their Philosophers: Leibniz and Hooke Coordinate Minds, Metal, and Wood           
Second Carry       Babbage Gets Funded   
3          Improvement for Profit: Calculating Machines and the Prehistory of Intellectual Property 
Third Carry          Babbage Claims His Property
4          Reinventing the Wheel: Emulation in the European Enlightenment 
Fourth Carry        Babbage Confronts Prior Art 
5          Teething Problems: Charles Stanhope and the Coordination of Technical Knowledge from Geneva to Kent           
Fifth Carry Babbage’s Collaborators Emulate   
6          Calculating Machines, Creativity, and Humility from Leibniz to Turing      
Final Carry Epilogue    
Acknowledgments     
Conventions   
Abbreviations 
Notes  
References     
Index

Editorial Reviews

“Jones offers a sharp new argument about the sources of creativity in science and technology. This history of early-modern calculating engines—carefully gleaned from the cryptic notes of savants like Leibniz and the sketches of their artisanal collaborators—shows how novelty was discovered ‘in the making’ and not through the imposition of thought on matter. The descriptions are vivid and offer fascinating insights into the ways such machines did (and didn't!) work. In the process, the book tracks the fitful route by which ‘originality’ came to be the basis of intellectual property. Clever, detailed, and assembled with an originality all its own, Reckoning with Matter will certainly find an eager audience.”