Hume, Newton, & Maclaurin

Abstract

Paper presented to the Twenty-seventh Hume Society Conference, 26 July 2000, Williamsburg, Virginia. At the time I thought there was a stronger link between Maclaurin and Hume, but in discussions at and after the meeting, decided Hume was not taking his mechanics out of Maclaurin’s Account. Although I still have found Maclaurin useful in interpreting Hume -- see Sapadin 1997 for a discussion of popular Newtonianism in Hume's day -- I suspect my draft suffers somewhat from ambivalence. There are still similarities, and possible avenues of influence, arguing that Hume was not ignorant of the new mechanics, but it also becomes clear that he did not understand it: although he adopts the Newtonian measure of force, he misapplies it.

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Charles R. Twardy
George Mason University

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