Newton and Kant: Quantity of matter in the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science

Southern Journal of Philosophy 50 (3):482-503 (2012)
Immanuel Kant's Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science (1786) provides metaphysical foundations for the application of mathematics to empirically given nature. The application that Kant primarily has in mind is that achieved in Isaac Newton's Principia (1687). Thus, Kant's first chapter, the Phoronomy, concerns the mathematization of speed or velocity, and his fourth chapter, the Phenomenology, concerns the empirical application of the Newtonian notions of true or absolute space, time, and motion. This paper concentrates on Kant's second and third chapters—the Dynamics and the Mechanics, respectively—and argues that they are best read as providing a transcendental explanation of the conditions for the possibility of applying the (mathematical) concept of quantity of matter to experience. Kant again has in mind the empirical measures of this quantity that Newton fashions in the Principia, and he aims to make clear, in particular, how Newton achieves a universal measure for all bodies whatsoever by projecting the static quantity of terrestrial weight into the heavens by means of the theory of universal gravitation. Kant is not attempting to prove a priori what Newton has established empirically but, rather, to clarify the character of Newton's mathematization by building Newton's empirical measures into the very concept of matter that is articulated in the Metaphysical Foundations.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/j.2041-6962.2012.00126.x
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 23,280
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

View all 8 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Edward MacKinnon (1978). The Development of Kant's Conception of Scientific Explanation. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1978:18 - 30.
Marius Stan (2012). Newton and Wolff. Southern Journal of Philosophy 50 (3):459-481.
Kenneth R. Westphal (1995). Kant's Dynamic Constructions. Journal of Philosophical Research 20:381-429.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

65 ( #73,607 of 1,932,455 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

4 ( #225,373 of 1,932,455 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.