Duhem, Pierre Maurice Marie
Duhem, Pierre Maurice Marie py?r m?r?s mr? d?m [key], 1861?1916, French physicist and philosopher and historian of science. After studying at the cole Normale Suprieure he taught at Lille (1887?1893), Rennes (1893?1894), and Bordeaux (1894?1916). His extension and application of the thermodynamic potential to topics in chemistry ranks him among the founders of modern physical chemistry. His Trait d'nergtique gnrale (2 vol., 1911) aimed at a generalized, abstract thermodynamics that subsumed classical mechanics. His major philosophical work, La thorie physique: Son objet, sa structure (1906; tr. The Aim and Structure of Physical Theory, 1954), depreciates pictorial models in favor of an axiomatic approach, according to which a physical theory is not an explanation, but a system of mathematical propositions that represents experimental laws. As a historian Duhem discovered important currents of medieval thought in physics, cosmology, and astronomy, which he saw as precursors of the 17th-century scientific revolution. He set forth this material, hitherto almost unknown, in tudes sur Lonard de Vinci (3 vol., 1906?13) and Le Systme du monde (10 vol., 1913?59).
See study by A. Lowinger (1941).
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