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date: 12 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This book examines generality in mathematics and the sciences and how it has been shaped by actors, in part by introducing specific terminologies to distinguish between different levels or forms of generality. Focusing on early modern and modern Europe, it investigates how actors from Gottfried Leibniz and Henri Poincaré to René Descartes and James Clerk Maxwell worked out what the meaningful types of generality were for them, in relation to their project, and the issues they chose to deal with. Such a view implies that there are different ways of understanding the general in different contexts. Accordingly, it suggests a nonlinear pattern for a history of generality. The book considers actors’ historiography of generality and their reflections upon its epistemological value, the historicity of the statements used by actors to formulate the general, and the ways that actors tackle the general using specific practices.

Keywords: generality, mathematics, sciences, historiography, Gottfried Leibniz, Henri Poincaré, Stefan Banach, René Descartes, James Clerk Maxwell, epistemological value

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