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Theses

Mathématiques de l'intensité et Merveilles de la nature : études sur le Tractatus de configurationibus qualitatum et motuum de Nicole Oresme

Abstract : During the first half of the fourteenth century, scholastic philosophy will give rise to a new mathematical science, that of the so-called latitudes of forms, the variations of forms between the degrees of their intensity. A complex logico-mathematic device is romptly elaborated to overcome problems about variations and rates, mean values and limits. The imaginary, even fanciful nature of the problems thoroughly studied thanks to those new methods can create the illusion that those scholastic authors, indifferent to reality, would have dropped it out for the subtilities of abstract logic. It is however a whole different face that the acme of this movement shows, Nicole Oresme’s Treatise on the configurations of qualities and movements, composed around 1350 in Paris. Geometrical intuition suddenly illuminates logical aridity, imagination roams avidly from one marvel to another : the new mathematical science sees magic in nature.The thesis I am defending is that the new mathematical object discovered by Oresme, intensity expanding itself through space and time, a « configuration », is not just a convenient technical tool : it expresses in a pure form a new and common way to consider art, nature and over-nature. Its knowledge doesn’t merely add itself to its scientific foundations, mathematics of number and magnitude, physics of contact and power, but transforms them from within in the same way that polyphonic music supersedes plainchant. An analogy imposed by the text : the new science explains the burgeoning new art, it accomplishes itself in a new vision of the harmony of the world, in which forms and difformities are mixed and mutually moderated.This thesis should be understood as an attempt to explain a mathematical revolution as the expression of a groping mentalité working in other fields of human culture. But because Oresme himself weaves those threads all along the treatise, it was of importance to do the contrary of what had usually been done, that is the segmentation of the text, and to read it in its whole unity in order to grasp the meaning of this science, so modern and so strange.
Keywords : Latitude of forms
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Theses
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Philippe Debroise. Mathématiques de l'intensité et Merveilles de la nature : études sur le Tractatus de configurationibus qualitatum et motuum de Nicole Oresme. Philosophie. Université de Paris, 2019. Français. ⟨NNT : 2019UNIP7070⟩. ⟨tel-03028342⟩

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