H.J. Petsche: The ‘Chemistry of Space’: The Sources of Hermann Grassmann’s Scientific Achievements.


Hans-Joachim Petsche, Universität Potsdam, Germany, Email: petsche@uni-potsdam.de, Received 27 August 2013. Revised paper accepted 2 December 2013.
The ‘Chemistry of Space’: The Sources of Hermann Grassmann’s Scientific Achievements.
In: Annals of Science, Online: 14.02.2014, pp.  1- 55.

URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/00033790.2013.877339#.UwDrP9LuIp1

Abstract: Albert Lewis’s article (Annals of Science, 1977) analysing the influence of Friedrich Schleiermacher on Hermann Grassmann, stimulated many different studies on the founder of n-dimensional outer algebra. Following a brief outline of the various, sometimes diverging, analyses of Grassmann’s creative thinking, new research is presented which confirms Lewis’s original contribution and widens it considerably. It will be shown that:
i. Grassmann, although a self-taught mathematician, was at the centre of a hitherto understated intellectual trend, which was defining for Germany. Initiated by Pestalozzi’s concept of elementary mathematical education and culminating in the modern mathematics of the late 19th Century, it was reflected in the contributions of Grassmann, Riemann, Jacobi and Eisenstein.
ii. Hermann Grassmann, his father Justus, and his brother Robert were all demonstrably influenced by Schleiermacher’s dialectic; however the two brothers responded to it in very different ways.
iii. Whilst the more philosophical parts of Hermann’s 1844 Extension Theory are characterized by the influence of Schleiermacher and also by the mathematical knowledge of his father, the entire development of this work is the unfolding of a single idea based on the father’s interpretation of combinatorial multiplication as a ‘chemical conjunction‘, which was developed largely dialectically by Hermann.

Source: Email from H.^J. Petsche, petsche_AT_gmx.de, 18 Feb. 2014.

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