Zvi Biener
University of Cincinnati
Newton's Principia begins with eight formal definitions and a scholium, the so-called scholium on space and time. Despite a history of misinterpretation, scholars now largely agree that the purpose of the scholium is to establish and defend the de fi nitions of key concepts. There is no consensus, however, on how those definitions differ in kind from the Principia's formal definitions and why they are set-off in a scholium. The purpose of the present essay is to shed light on the scholium by focusing on Newton's notion and use of de fi nition. The resulting view is developmental. I argue that when Newton first wrote the Principia, he viewed the scholium's definitions as items of “natural philosophy.” By the time of the third edition, however, he came to view their methodological status differently; he viewed them as belonging to the more qualified “manner of geometers.” I explicate the two methods of natural inquiry and draw out their implications for Newton's account of space.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2020
DOI 10.1016/j.shpsb.2020.05.005
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: 64,132
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

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's Bucket Experiment.Ronald Laymon - 1978 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 16 (4):399--413.
Newton's "Experimental Philosophy".Alan Shapiro - 2002 - Early Science and Medicine 9 (3):185-217.

View all 18 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Newton's Absolute Time.H. Kochiras - 2016 - In S. Gerogiorgakis (ed.), Time and Tense: Unifying the Old and the New. Munich: Philosophia (Basic Philosophical Concepts). pp. 169-195.
Newton on God's Relation to Space and Time: The Cartesian Framework.Geoffrey Gorham - 2011 - Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 93 (3):281-320.
Newton and Descartes: Theology and Natural Philosophy.Andrew Janiak - 2012 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 50 (3):414-435.
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.
Rethinking Newton’s Principia.Simon Saunders - 2013 - Philosophy of Science 80 (1):22-48.


Added to PP index

Total views
5 ( #1,177,375 of 2,454,729 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #449,768 of 2,454,729 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes