Aside from the Principia and occasional appearances of the Opticks , Newton' writings have remained largely inaccessible to students of philosophy, science, and literature as well as to other readers. This book provides a remedy with wide representation of the interests, problems, and diverse philosophic issues that preoccupied the greatest scientific mind of the seventeenth century. Grouped in sections corresponding to methods, principles, and theological considerations, these selections feature explanatory notes and cross-references to related essays.
This is the first volume of original commissioned papers on the subject of Newton and empiricism. The chapters, contributed by a leading team of both established and younger international scholars, explore the nature and extent of Newton's relationship to a variety of empiricisms and empiricists.
Early modern foundations for mechanics came in two kinds, nomic and material. I examine here the dynamical laws and pictures of matter given respectively by Newton, Leibniz, and Kant. I argue that they fall short of their foundational task, viz. to represent enough kinematic behavior; or at least to explain it. In effect, for the true foundations of classical mechanics we must look beyond Newton, Leibniz, and Kant.
: Newton's critics argued that his treatment of gravity in the Principia saddles him with a substantial dilemma. If he insists that gravity is a real force, he must invoke action at a distance because of his explicit failure to characterize the mechanism underlying gravity. To avoid distant action, however, he must admit that gravity is not a real force, and that he has therefore failed to discover the actual cause of the phenomena associated with it. A reinterpretation of (...)Newton's distinction between the "mathematical" and the "physical" treatment of force indicates how he can reject each horn of this dilemma. (shrink)
Newton's philosophical views are unique and uniquely difficult to categorise. In the course of a long career from the early 1670s until his death in 1727, he articulated profound responses to Cartesian natural philosophy and to the prevailing mechanical philosophy of his day. Newton as Philosopher presents Newton as an original and sophisticated contributor to natural philosophy, one who engaged with the principal ideas of his most important predecessor, René Descartes, and of his most influential critic, G. (...) W. Leibniz. Unlike Descartes and Leibniz, Newton was systematic and philosophical without presenting a philosophical system, but over the course of his life, he developed a novel picture of nature, our place within it, and its relation to the creator. This rich treatment of his philosophical ideas will be of wide interest to historians of philosophy, science, and ideas. (shrink)
We all think that science is special. Its products—its technological spin-off—dominate our lives which are thereby sometimes enriched and sometimes impoverished but always affected. Even the most outlandish critics of science such as Feyerabend implicitly recognize its success. Feyerabend told us that science was a congame. Scientists had so successfully hood-winked us into adopting its ideology that other equally legitimate forms of activity—alchemy, witchcraft and magic—lost out. He conjured up a vision of much enriched lives if only we could free (...) ourselves from the domination of the ‘one true ideology’ of science just as our ancestors freed us from the domination of the Church. But he told us these things in Switzerland and in California happily commuting between them in that most ubiquitous product of science—the aeroplane. (shrink)
Newton’s Regulae philosophandi—the rules for reasoning in natural philosophy—are maxims of causal reasoning and induction. This essay reviews their significance for Newton’s method of inquiry, as well as their application to particular propositions within the Principia. Two main claims emerge. First, the rules are not only interrelated, they defend various facets of the same core idea: that nature is simple and orderly by divine decree, and that, consequently, human beings can be justified in inferring universal causes from limited (...) phenomena, if only fallibly. Second, the rules make substantive ontological assumptions on which Newton’s argument in the Principia relies. (shrink)
Isaac Newton's Scientific Method examines Newton's argument for universal gravity and his application of it to resolve the problem of deciding between geocentric and heliocentric world systems by measuring masses of the sun and planets. William L. Harper suggests that Newton's inferences from phenomena realize an ideal of empirical success that is richer than prediction. Any theory that can achieve this rich sort of empirical success must not only be able to predict the phenomena it purports to (...) explain, but also have those phenomena accurately measure the parameters which explain them. Harper explores the ways in which Newton's method aims to turn theoretical questions into ones which can be answered empirically by measurement from phenomena, and to establish that propositions inferred from phenomena are provisionally accepted as guides to further research. This methodology, guided by its rich ideal of empirical success, supports a conception of scientific progress that does not require construing it as progress toward Laplace's ideal limit of a final theory of everything, and is not threatened by the classic argument against convergent realism. Newton's method endorses the radical theoretical transformation from his theory to Einstein's. Harper argues that it is strikingly realized in the development and application of testing frameworks for relativistic theories of gravity, and very much at work in cosmology today. (shrink)
_Business Ethics and the Natural Environment_ examines the present status of relations between corporate enterprise and the natural environment in the world today. •Discusses such questions as: What obligations does a corporation have toward the environment? To respect entities unprotected by law? To care about future generations? •Argues that environmentally-friendly business practices yield dividends exceeding expectations, and that the competitive firm of the 21st century will follow “green” standards •Provides a background in ethics, a survey of business ethics, an account (...) of environmental philosophy, an overview of environmental legal issues, and an account of the problems associated with globalization. (shrink)
Newton published his deduction of universal gravity in Principia (first ed., 1687). To establish the universality (the particle-to-particle nature) of gravity, Newton must establish the additivity of mass. I call ‘additivity’ the property a body's quantity of matter has just in case, if gravitational force is proportional to that quantity, the force can be taken to be the sum of forces proportional to each particle's quantity of matter. Newton's argument for additivity is obscure. I analyze and assess (...) manuscript versions of Newton's initial argument within his initial deduction, dating from early 1685. Newton's strategy depends on distinguishing two quantities of matter, which I call ‘active’ and ‘passive’, by how they are measured. These measurement procedures frame conditions on the additivity of each quantity so measured. While Newton has direct evidence for the additivity of passive quantity of matter, he does not for that of the active quantity. Instead, he tries to infer the latter from the former via conceptual analyses of the third law of motion grounded largely on analogies to magnetic attractions. The conditions needed to establish passive additivity frustrate Newton's attempted inference to active additivity. (shrink)
Sir Isaac Newton left a voluminous legacy of writings. Despite his influence on the early modern period, his correspondence, manuscripts, and publications in natural philosophy remain scattered throughout many disparate editions. In this volume, Newton's principal philosophical writings are for the first time collected in a single place. They include excerpts from the Principia and the Opticks, his famous correspondence with Boyle and with Bentley, and his equally significant correspondence with Leibniz, which is often ignored in favor of (...) Leibniz's later debate with Samuel Clarke. Newton's exchanges with Leibniz place their different understandings of natural philosophy in sharp relief. The volume also includes 'De Gravitatione', offered here in a corrected translation, which is crucial for understanding Newton's relation to his great predecessor Descartes. In a historical and philosophical introduction, Andrew Janiak examines Newton's philosophical positions and his relations to canonical figures in early modern philosophy. (shrink)
It is widely accepted that the notion of an inertial frame is central to Newtonian mechanics and that the correct space-time structure underlying Newton’s methods in Principia is neo-Newtonian or Galilean space-time. I argue to the contrary that inertial frames are not needed in Newton’s theory of motion, and that the right space-time structure for Newton’s Principia requires the notion of parallelism of spatial directions at different times and nothing more. Only relative motions are definable in this (...) framework, never absolute ones. (shrink)
This paper is a critical response to Hylarie Kochiras’ “Gravity and Newton’s substance counting problem,” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 40 267–280. First, the paper argues that Kochiras conflates substances and beings; it proceeds to show that Newton is a substance monist. The paper argues that on methodological grounds Newton has adequate resources to respond to the metaphysical problems diagnosed by Kochiras. Second, the paper argues against the claim that Newton is committed to two (...) speculative doctrines attributed to him by Kochiras and earlier Andrew Janiak: i) the passivity of matter and ii) the principle of local causation. Third, the paper argues that while Kochiras’ arguments about Newton’s metaphysical commitments are mistaken, it qualifies the characterization of Newton as an extreme empiricist as defended by Howard Stein and Rob DiSalle. In particular, the paper shows that Newton’s empiricism was an intellectual and developmental achievement that built on non trivial speculative commitments about the nature of matter and space.Keywords: Newton; Substance; Action at a distance; Space; Matter; Empiricism. (shrink)
I identify a set of interlocking views that became (and still are) very influential within philosophy in the wake of Newton’s success. These views use the authority of natural philosophy/mechanics to settle debates within philosophy. I label these “Newton’s Challenge.”.
Newton's Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica provides a coherent and deductive presentation of his discovery of the universal law of gravitation. It is very much more than a demonstration that 'to us it is enough that gravity really does exist and act according to the laws which we have explained and abundantly serves to account for all the motions of the celestial bodies and the sea'. It is important to us as a model of all mathematical physics.Representing a decade's work (...) from a distinguished physicist, this is the first comprehensive analysis of Newton's Principia without recourse to secondary sources. Professor Chandrasekhar analyses some 150 propositions which form a direct chain leading to Newton's formulation of his universal law of gravitation. In each case, Newton's proofs are arranged in a linear sequence of equations and arguments, avoiding the need to unravel the necessarily convoluted style of Newton's connected prose. In almost every case, a modern version of the proofs is given to bring into sharp focus the beauty, clarity, and breath-taking economy of Newton's methods.Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar is one of the most reknowned scientists of the twentieth century, whose career spanned over 60 years. Born in India, educated at the University of Cambridge in England, he served as Emeritus Morton D. Hull Distinguished Service Professor of Theoretical Astrophysics at the University of Chicago, where he has was based from 1937 until his death in 1996. His early research into the evolution of stars is now a cornerstone of modern astrophysics, and earned him the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1983. Later work into gravitational interactions between stars, the properties of fluids, magnetic fields, equilibrium ellipsoids, and black holes has earned him awards throughout the world, including the Gold Medal from the Royal Astronomical Society in London, the National Medal of Science in the United States, and the Copley Medal from the Royal Society. His many publications include Radiative transfer, Hydrodynamic and hydromagnetic stability, and The mathematical theory of black holes, each being praised for its breadth and clarity. Newton's Principia for the common reader is the result of Professor Chandrasekhar's profound admiration for a scientist whose work he believed is unsurpassed, and unsurpassable. (shrink)
A series of lectures organized in part by the Society for Applied Philosophy and entitled ‘Philosophy and Practice’ is presumably aimed at displaying the practical implications of philosophical doctrines and/or applying philosophical skills to practical questions. The topic of this paper, the role of interests in science, certainly meets the first condition. For as will be argued there are a number of theses concerning the role of interests in science which have considerable implications for how one should see the scientific (...) enterprise in general and in particular for how one assesses the claim that science ought to be accorded its priviliged position in virtue of its results and/or methods And in view of the respect and resources accorded to science what could be of greater practical interest? It remains the case, however, that my interest may seem the inverse of that of the organizers of this series. For in looking at the role of interest in science, one is examining, so to speak, the extent to which the sphere of the practical determines what goes on in science. One is exploring ways in which the non-scientific impinges on the scientific. While my primary focus will be on the physical sciences, it will be argued that there is a significant difference between them and the social sciences; a difference which renders the social sciences intrinsically liable to penetration from outside. As will be seen, some of the particular arguments for this conclusion make pressing the question: what about philosophy? The answer, it will be concluded, is that philosophy is insulated from external influences to a considerable extent. In that lies both its importance and an explanation as to why much of it has little practical application. (shrink)
This paper has the aim to provide a general view of the so called Jesuit Edition (hereafter JE) of Newton’s Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (1739–1742). This edition was conceived to explain all Newton’s methods through an apparatus of notes and commentaries. Every Newton’s proposition is annotated. Because of this, the text – in four volumes – is one of the most important documents to understand Newton’s way of reasoning. This edition is well known, but systematic works (...) on it are still missing. We are going to fill this gap by means of a project exposed in the final remarks of this paper. In this paper we will: A) expound the way in which the notes and the additions to the JE were conceived by the commentators; B) provide some pieces of information about the commentators; C) summarize the most important of their notes; D) examine closely their notes as to a particularly important question: the so called "inverse problem of the central forces". (shrink)
This essay explores the role of God’s omnipresence in Newton’s natural philosophy, with special emphasis placed on how God is related to space. Unlike Descartes’ conception, which denies the spatiality of God, or Gassendi and Charleton’s view, which regards God as completely whole in every part of space, it is argued that Newton accepts spatial extension as a basic aspect of God’s omnipresence. The historical background to Newton’s spatial ontology assumes a large part of our investigation, but (...) with attention also focused on the details of Newton’s unique approach to these traditional Scholastic conceptions. (shrink)
Isaac Newton's Scientific Method examines Newton's argument for universal gravity and his application of it to resolve the problem of deciding between geocentric and heliocentric world systems by measuring masses of the sun and planets. William L. Harper suggests that Newton's inferences from phenomena realize an ideal of empirical success that is richer than prediction. Any theory that can achieve this rich sort of empirical success must not only be able to predict the phenomena it purports to (...) explain, but also have those phenomena accurately measure the parameters which explain them. Harper explores the ways in which Newton's method aims to turn theoretical questions into ones which can be answered empirically, by measurement from phenomena, and to establish that propositions inferred from phenomena are provisionally accepted as guides to further research. This methodology, guided by its rich ideal of empirical success, supports a conception of scientific progress that does not require construing it as progress toward Laplace's ideal limit of a final theory of everything, and is not threatened by the classic argument against convergent realism. Newton's method endorses the radical theoretical transformation from his theory to Einstein's. Harper argues that it is strikingly realized in the development and application of testing frameworks for relativistic theories of gravity, and very much at work in cosmology today. (shrink)
Early modern experimental philosophers often appear to commit to and utilise corpuscular and mechanical hypotheses. This is somewhat mysterious, for such hypotheses frequently appear to be simply assumed, which is odd for a research program which emphasises the careful experimental accumulation of facts. Isaac Newton was one such experimental philosopher, and his optical work is considered a clear example of the experimental method. Focusing on his optical investigations, Walsh identifies three roles for hypotheses. First, Newton introduces a hypothesis (...) to explicate his abstract theory. The purpose here is primarily to improve understanding or uptake of the theory. Second, he uses a hypothesis as a platform from which to generate some crucial experiments to decide between competing accounts. The purpose here is to suggest experiments in order to bring a dispute to empirical resolution. Third, he uses a hypothesis to suggest an underlying physical cause, which he then operationalises and represents abstractly in his formal theory. The second and third roles are related in that they are both cases of scaffolding: hypotheses provide a temporary platform from which further experimental work and/or theorising can be carried out. In short, the entities and processes included in Newton’s optical hypothesis are not simply assumed hypothetical posits. Rather, they play instrumental roles in Newton’s experimental philosophy. (shrink)
In the 1687 Principia, Newton gave a solution to the direct problem for a conic-section with a focal center of force and for a spiral orbit with a polar center of force. He did not, however, give solutions for the two corresponding inverse problems. He gave a cryptic solution to the inverse problem of a reciprocal cube force, but offered no solution for the reciprocal square force. Some take this omission as an indication that Newton could not solve (...) the reciprocal square, for, they ask, why else would he not select this important problem? Others claim that ``it is child's play'' for him, as evidenced by his 1671 catalogue of quadratures. The answer to that question is obscured for all who attempt to work through Newton's published solution of the reciprocal cube force because it is done in the synthetic geometric style of the 1687 Principia rather than in the analytic algebraic style that Newton employed until 1671. In response to a request from David Gregory in 1694, however, Newton produced an analytic version of the body of the proof, but one which still had a geometric conclusion. Newton's charge is to find both ``the orbit'' and ``the time in orbit.'' In the determination of the dependence of the time on orbital position, t, Newton evaluated an integral of the form ∫dx/xn to calculate a finite algebraic equation for the area swept out as a function of the radius, but he did not write out the analytic expression for time t = t, even though he knew that the time t is proportional to that area. In the determination of the orbit, θ, Newton obtained an integral of the form ∫dx/√ for the area that is proportional to the angle θ, an integral he had shown in his 1669 On Analysis by Infinite Equations to be equal to the arcsin. Since the solution must therefore contain a transcendental function, he knew that a finite algebraic solution for θ=θ did not exist for ``the orbit'' as it had for ``the time in orbit.'' In contrast to these two solutions for the inverse cube force, however, it is not possible in the inverse square solution to generate a finite algebraic expression for either ``the orbit'' or ``the time in orbit.'' In fact, in Lemma 28, Newton offers a demonstration that the area of an ellipse cannot be given by a finite equation. I claim that the limitation of Lemma 28 forces Newton to reject the inverse square force as an example and to choose instead the reciprocal cube force as his example in Proposition 41. (shrink)