The Owl of Minerva 27 (2):185-191 (1996)

This is a critical edition of a set of particularly detailed and carefully prepared lecture notes, taken down in 1804 during a course on mathematical and experimental physics given at the University of Tübingen by Christoph Friedrich von Pfleiderer. Since Pfleiderer had been appointed to the chair of mathematics and physics in 1782, and had previously held a similar post at the Warsaw Military Academy, when he delivered these lectures he had been teaching the subject for nearly forty years. Besides providing these public courses on “theoretical physics,” he also held private classes in elementary and advanced mathematics and in experimental physics. The lectures were based on a general textbook, which was supplemented with information from a wide range of other sources. Up until the summer term of 1792, they followed the layout of the first edition of a standard work on the subject, Anfangsgründe der Naturlehre, by Wenceslaus Johann Gustav Karsten, professor of the mathematical sciences at Halle. Pfleiderer’s personal copy of this book, annotated in his own hand, is still preserved in the University Library at Tübingen, and throws a lot of light on the precise manner in which he elaborated on the basic text. From 1792 until 1815 he made use of a similar but more up-to-date work, with the same title, by Georg Simon Klügel, and it is therefore this book which forms the basis of the lecture notes now published. At this stage in his career, however, Pfleiderer had got into a well established routine, and the similarities between these 1804 lectures and the manner in which he annotated Karsten, indicate that the notes also give a pretty accurate account of the way in which “theoretical physics” was being taught at Tübingen a decade or so earlier. Like the whole of Pfleiderer’s private collection of books, the manuscript of the notes is preserved in the University Library at Tübingen, which acquired it in 1879. The note taker was Gottlieb Friedrich Harttmann, who studied at Tübingen from 1799 until 1804, subsequently took holy orders and taught at Maulbronn, and eventually emigrated to America.
Keywords Major Philosophers
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ISBN(s) 0030-7580
DOI 10.5840/owl19962722
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