Gravity and De gravitatione: the development of Newton's ideas on action at a distance

Abstract
This paper is in three sections. The first establishes that Newton, in spite of a well-known passage in a letter to Richard Bentley of 1692, did believe in action at a distance. Many readers may see this merely as an act of supererogation, since it is so patently obvious that he did. However, there has been a long history among Newton scholars of allowing the letter to Bentley to over-ride all of Newton’s other pronouncements in favour of action at a distance, with devastating effects on our understanding of related aspects of his physics and his theology. Furthermore, this misconceived scholarly endeavour shows no sign of abating. The second section then offers a historical reconstruction, based on Newton’s writings, of how, when and why he began to accept actions at a distance and make them one of the cornerstones of his physics. Finally, using this chronological account of Newton’s use of actions at a distance, the paper re-assesses the claims of B. J. T. Dobbs that Newton’s important manuscript, De gravitatione et aequipondio fluidorum, was written, not in the late 1660s or early 1670s as was previously supposed, but during the composition of the Principia, in 1684 or 1685.Keywords: Isaac Newton; Action-at-a-distance; Gravity; Force; Aether; Attraction
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
 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: 13,009
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
Steffen Ducheyne (2009). Understanding (in) Newton's Argument for Universal Gravitation. Journal for General Philosophy of Science 40 (2):227 - 258.

View all 11 references

Citations of this work BETA
Andrew Janiak (2013). Three Concepts of Causation in Newton. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (3):396-407.
Marius Stan (2012). Newton and Wolff. Southern Journal of Philosophy 50 (3):459-481.

View all 6 citations

Similar books and articles
Andrew Janiak (2007). Newton and the Reality of Force. Journal of the History of Philosophy 45 (1):127-147.
Hylarie Kochiras (2009). Gravity and Newton's Substance Counting Problem. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 40 (3):267-280.
Hylarie Kochiras (2013). Causal Language and the Structure of Force in Newton'sSystem of the World. Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 3 (2):210-235.
Steffen Ducheyne (2011). Newton on Action at a Distance and the Cause of Gravity. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (1):154-159.
Robert Palter (1987). Saving Newton's Text: Documents, Readers, and the Ways of the World. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 18 (4):385--439.
Jonathan Bain (2004). Theories of Newtonian Gravity and Empirical Indistinguishability. Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 35 (3):345--76.
Analytics

Monthly downloads

Added to index

2012-02-25

Total downloads

10 ( #165,277 of 1,410,123 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #177,589 of 1,410,123 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature


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