The Mechanical Representation of Knowledge
From Descartes’ Mechanized Geometry to Carnot’s Heat Engine
Keywords:Carnot’s machine, Heuristic of representation, Descartes, Mechanical geometry
This article revisits aspects of Thermodynamics’ history by applying the Cartesian conception of a machine to Sadi Carnot’s work. By defining mechanically geometric curves, Descartes placed mechanical science at the centre of geometry and natural philosophy. With this, the autonomous machine - a product of this science - starts to correspond to an operational definition with the power to understand and generate new ideas in addition to a general explanation model. After nearly two centuries, Carnot presented a reversible thermal machine theory - mechanically inspired and defined operationally as an ideal model - and represented it analogically. That addressed the problem of maximizing the production of motive power. Although still limited in its ability to solve problems, it inaugurated a progressive sequence of representations with an ever-widening phenomenological reach. As suggested in this article, classical thermodynamics’ emergence and development correspond to a Cartesian style theorization.
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2023 Jojomar Lucena, Cassio C. Laranjeiras, J. R. N. Chiappin
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.