Is the concept of force a technico/scientific one or a philosophical, even metaphysical one?
By defining force purely as the product of an acceleration (a purely kinematic magnitude--from Greek kineo, referring to constrained or controlled motion) and a mass (a coefficient to be determined empirically), modern science eliminated both the metaphysical terminology and psychological origins of the concept of force. (E. J. Dijksterhuis) (see machine ) see also qualititative / quantitative .
For classical physics, force is really only explainable in terms of bodies in contact. "Action at a distance", which is also a feature of gravity, seems "occult." Yet from the work of Kepler and Newton, particles had a dual nature: on the one hand, a highly localized object, and on the other an influence extending through the whole of space. But is the concept of force to be associated primarily with Newtonian mechanics -- as opposed to Newton's alchemical writings?
Newton refused to define the nature of his fundamental gravitational force. He emphasized its heuristic importance and the possibililty of mathematizing it. On the other hand, his alchemical speculations downright invited the amplification and translation of his concept of force into the realm of living things. Could magnetism and electricity, he asked, fulfill the same role for living beings that gravitation did for inanimate matter? (see mechanism / vitalism ) Whether as quasi-mechanical attraction of molecules (as suggested by Buffon and Maupertius) or eventually as formative force (as suggested by the epigeneticists) the Newtonian concept of force supplied the debate about generation with a new energy in the eighteenth century.
In What is Matter?, Hermann Weyl gives a detailed outline of the displacement of the old "substance theory" by the modern " field theory."-- a kind of tension or stress that can exist in empty space in the absence of matter. In 1907 Einstein theorized that light propagated across a gravitational field is curved. Since the trajectory of light is the shortest distance between two points and the basis for all measurement, he concluded that by slowing down the speed of light gravity warps time and space. He also hypothesized that gravity is not a force but an intrinsic curvature of a space-time continuum. It is currently accepted that there are four kinds of force in the universe: electromagnetic, gravitation, weak, and strong.
For Heinrich Wölfflin, the principal theme of architecture is the opposition between matter and the force of form. (Formkraft ) ( "Prologemena to a Psychology of Architecture," p. 159-162) This dimension of architecture is experienced in sympathy with the body. Wolfflin sharply distinguishes between the lawfulness of geometric form "which does not strike us as a pleasing vital form," and the features of architectural form whose principles we understand "by virtue of our own bodily organization and expressive movements." (This is the same opposition that Wilhelm Worringer drew between abstraction and empathy.) "Matter itself, to a certain extent, longs for form....The perfect form, for its part, presents itself as an entel echy, that is, as the actualization of the potential inherent in the matter. (cf formative force in mechanism / vitalism) For Wölfflin, ornament is an epression of an excessive force of form. It is "the blossoming of a force that has nothing more to achieve." (p.181) see form / matter.
In his classic 1917 book On Growth and Form, D'Arcy Thompson analyzed biological form in terms of physical forces such as viscosity or gravity. Biological form and engineering design were directly related as conforming to or resisting physical force.
See di agram for contemporary analyses of forces in architecture.
The metaphysical usage of the creative force of being found a new proponent in Henri Bergson. Bergson conceived of a life force (élan ), radically distinct from inert matter, but passing through it and forcing it to become organized. For Gilles Deleuze the affective force, level of intensity, de sire, or affirmation conveys ideas and ultimately govern their tr uth-value.
Psychoanalytic accounts of the in stinctual drives describe them in terms of force. Affect See re ssentiment for Nietzsche's account of a force turning back on itself.