The methodological origins of Newton's queries

This paper analyses the different ways in which Isaac Newton employed queries in his writings on natural philosophy. It is argued that queries were used in three different ways by Newton and that each of these uses is best understood against the background of the role that queries played in the Baconian method that was adopted by the leading experimenters of the early Royal Society. After a discussion of the role of queries in Francis Bacon’s natural historical method, Newton’s queries in his Trinity Notebook are shown to reveal the influence of his early reading in the new experimental philosophy. Then after a discussion of Robert Hooke’s view of the role of queries, the paper turns to an assessment of Newton’s correspondence and Opticks. It is argued that the queries in his correspondence with Oldenburg on his early optical experiments are closely tied to an experimental program, whereas the queries in the Opticks are more discursive and speculative, but that each of these uses of queries represents a significant Baconian legacy in his natural philosophical methodology.Author Keywords: Bacon; Experiment; Hypothesis; Method; Newton; Query
Keywords early modern experimental philosophy
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsa.2003.11.001
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References found in this work BETA
Francis Bacon (1969). The Works of Francis Bacon. St. Clair Shores, Mich.,Scholarly Press.
Isaac Newton & H. W. Turnbull (1961). The Correspondence of Isaac Newton. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 12 (47):255-258.
Richard Westfall (1962). The Foundations of Newton's Philosophy of Nature. British Journal for the History of Science 1 (2):171-182.

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