Newton on God's relation to space and time: The cartesian framework

Authors
Geoffrey Gorham
Macalester College
Abstract
Beginning with Berkeley and Leibniz, philosophers have been puzzled by the close yet ambivalent association in Newton's ontology between God and absolute space and time. The 1962 publication of Newton's highly philosophical manuscript De Gravitatione has enriched our understanding of his subtle, sometimes cryptic, remarks on the divine underpinnings of space and time in better-known published works. But it has certainly not produced a scholarly consensus about Newton's exact position. In fact, three distinct lines of interpretation have emerged: (1) Independence : space and time are not essentially related to God. (2) Causation : space and time are caused by God. (3) Assimilation : space and time are attributes of God. This paper defends the third interpretation against the first two by drawing out the under-appreciated influence of Descartes' metaphysics on Newton's ‘physico-theology’
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DOI 10.1515/agph.2011.013
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