Journal of History of Philosophy 55 (4):583-608 (2017)

Authors
Zvi Biener
University of Cincinnati
Abstract
I argue that Isaac Newton's De Gravitatione should not be considered an authoritative expression of his thought about the metaphysics of space and its relation to physical inquiry. I establish the following narrative: In De Gravitatione (circa 1668–84), Newton claimed he had direct experimental evidence for the work's central thesis: that space had "its own manner of existing" as an affection or emanative effect. In the 1710s, however, through the prodding of Roger Cotes and G. W. Leibniz, he came to see that this evidence relied on assumptions that his own Principia rendered unjustifiable. Consequently, he (i) revised the conclusions he explicitly drew from the experimental evidence, (ii) rejected the idea that his spatial metaphysics was grounded in experimental evidence, and (iii) reassessed the epistemic status of key concepts in his metaphysics and natural philosophy. The narrative I explore shows not only that De Gravitatione did not constitute the metaphysical backdrop of the Principia as Newton ultimately understood it, but that it was the Principia itself that ultimately lead to the demise of key elements of De Gravitatione. I explore the implications of this narrative for Andrew Janiak's and Howards Stein's interpretations of Newton's metaphysics.
Keywords Newton  De Gravitatione  Space  God  Metaphysics  Classical Mechanics  Roger Cotes  Empiricism  Scientific Method
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1353/hph.2017.0067
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 65,683
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Newtonian Space-Time.Howard Stein - 1967 - Texas Quarterly 10 (3):174--200.
Newton on Action at a Distance.Steffen Ducheyne - 2014 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 52 (4):675-701.
Newton and the Leibniz--Clarke Correspondence.Alexandre Koyré & I. Bernard Cohen - 1962 - Archives Internationales d'Historie des Sciences 15:63--126.
The Transcendental Method From Newton to Kant.Robert DiSalle - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (3):448-456.

View all 6 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Definitions More Geometrarum and Newton's Scholium on Space and Time.Zvi Biener - 2020 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics:179-191.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Newton’s Empiricism and Metaphysics.Mary Domski - 2010 - Philosophy Compass 5 (7):525-534.
Newton and God's Sensorium.Patrick J. Connolly - 2014 - Intellectual History Review 24 (2):185-201.
Metaphysics and Natural Philosophy in Descartes and Newton.Andrew Janiak - 2013 - Foundations of Science 18 (3):403-417.
Newton and Proclus: Geometry, Imagination, and Knowing Space.Mary Domski - 2012 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 50 (3):389-413.
Leibniz and Newton on Space.Ori Belkind - 2013 - Foundations of Science 18 (3):467-497.
Newton, the Parts of Space, and the Holism of Spatial Ontology.Edward Slowik - 2011 - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 1 (2):249-272.
Newton's Ontology of Omnipresence and Infinite Space.J. E. McGuire & Edward Slowik - 2013 - Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy 6:279-308.
Why the Parts of Absolute Space Are Immobile.Nick Huggett - 2008 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 59 (3):391-407.
Newton’s Neo-Platonic Ontology of Space.Edward Slowik - 2013 - Foundations of Science 18 (3):419-448.
Newton’s Conceptual Argument for Absolute Space.Ori Belkind - 2007 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 21 (3):271 – 293.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2016-01-31

Total views
140 ( #78,756 of 2,462,377 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #299,176 of 2,462,377 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes