On the origins of Hilbert's sixth problem: Physics and the empiricist approach to axiomatization

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Abstract

The sixth of Hilbert's famous 1900 list of twenty-three problems is a programmatic call for the axiomatization of physical sciences. Contrary to a prevalent view this problem was naturally rooted at the core of Hilbert's conception of what axiomatization is all about. The axiomatic method embodied in his work on geometry at the turn of the twentieth-century originated in a preoccupation with foundational questions related with empirical science, including geometry and other physical disciplines at a similar level. From all the problems in the list, the sixth is the only one that continually engaged his efforts over a very long period, at least between 1894 and 1932.

Original languageEnglish
Pages1697-1718
Number of pages22
StatePublished - 2006
Event25th International Congress of Mathematicians, ICM 2006 - Madrid, Spain
Duration: 22 Aug 200630 Aug 2006

Conference

Conference25th International Congress of Mathematicians, ICM 2006
Country/TerritorySpain
CityMadrid
Period22/08/0630/08/06

Keywords

  • Axiomatization
  • David Hilbert
  • Physics

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